“This has been harder to write than I anticipated, but looking at what we’ve overcome is inspiring to me. During the early years of our marriage, my husband and I lived in the shadows of our insecurities. Insecurity got the best of our marriage and us. We put most of our effort into avoiding any conflict at any cost. When a problem arose, it seemed to be easier to sweep it under the rug instead of talk through it. You would think that being able to sit down and have a conversation with your spouse without one of you getting offended would be easy, right? That wasn’t the case for us. For years we lived this cycle of brushing things under the rug. We just went with the flow of things, not really speaking our true feelings. It seemed to be working for us, but it was only a matter of time before one of us would break.
Then it happened. It was me. I broke.
A few years ago Colton (my husband) and I had been living in a home we had just built together with our two rambunctious boys, who were 3 and 1 at the time. I was working full time in an office that I absolutely loved. Colton had just recently started a sales job that he was really excited about. I was hesitant about it because I am the type of person that has always needed security. Knowing that if I work X amount of hours a week, my check will have X amount of money on it. Get my drift? This new job of Colt’s was strictly commission, so in order for him to make money he had to make sales. This pushed me out of my comfort zone, a lot. I wanted my husband to provide for us, but there was too much unknown that came with this job. Like a good wife, I did my best to be as supportive as I could. This new job did allow Colton some flexibility, so while I was working in the Office from 8-5, he was able to stay home with the boys.
It wasn’t long before his job picked up, and he was working out of town fairly often. It got to the point where I either needed to quit my job or we needed to find a daycare. I couldn’t even fathom quitting my job. I knew I wasn’t cut out for the stay at home mom life. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am a stay at home mom now, but back then I just didn’t understand how moms did it. I liked a break every once in a while. I liked going to work and feeling important and socializing with adults. Plus, if I didn’t have my regular paycheck coming in, then how would I know if we would even have money to be able to survive each month? Colt kept telling me if he could work more hours in the day then the money would come. I wish I would have trusted him more, but I’m ashamed to say that I just couldn’t. I needed this job so I could have that peace of mind. After a couple months of resistance, we had to have the hard conversation again of if I should continue to work or quit my job. It was a hard decision, but I finally decided to quit.
About two weeks after I quit my job to be a stay at home mom, Colt was offered what was supposed to be an amazing promotion. The only thing was it required us to move out of state. All I could think was ‘Heck no!’ We just built this home. This is where all our family is. This is where all our friends are. This is where we are supposed to build our life together. Why on earth would we move?
Colton was so motivated and driven. He believes you should never have to work somewhere you are unhappy. He believes that you can do absolutely anything you set your mind to. He wanted to chase his dreams. He wanted to be his own boss. He wanted to have his own company. He wanted to travel. He wanted to grow. He wanted to push the limits. I, on the other hand, wanted security, no matter how it came. I wanted to live comfortably. I wanted to be paid bare minimum for a guaranteed check every two weeks. I wanted to settle down. I wanted to live in that home that we built forever. I had no reason to want to go anywhere else. Colt and I both had such different perspectives on life and how we wanted to live it.
When push came to shove, I did what I knew I needed to do. Try to be as supportive as I could be. I said yes to the move but knew we didn’t have the means to do it right away. We decided that the boys and I would stay behind in Utah while Colton went to get things dialed in with work and find a nice area where we could live.
For 3 weeks Colton had been gone working his butt off to try and provide for our family. I had been a ‘single mom’ trying to entertain my toddlers and find something that brought me joy. I started sinking lower and lower into a depression, which I was really unaware of at the time. And in those same 3 weeks, we did not once see any sort of paycheck. For 2 weeks we decided to postpone bills so we could have money to survive. During this time, I ran into a friend who I started catching up with because I hadn’t seen him in forever. I had known him most of my life and we had always been close.
Things did not seem to get any easier. We didn’t move when we had planned because the money that was supposed to be coming in, wasn’t. I started pushing Colton away and resenting him. I felt so abandoned by the person who was supposed to take care of our boys and me. Because of this I started turning to this friend of mine I had reconnected with. I talked more with him and less with my husband. It got to the point where I would meet up with him and we would talk. Talking turned into more, and I found myself in the midst of something I NEVER thought I would be capable of.
For months I tried to hide this huge dark cloud of lies that followed me. And as much as I wanted to tell Colton the truth, I didn’t know how. He eventually moved back to Utah and we tried to figure things out. We continued to push each other away. I pushed even harder because at this point, I felt like he would be better off without me. I thought if we just ended things, I would never have to tell him the truth. He could be happier without me. I sunk even more into depression. Finally I told Colton I just couldn’t do it anymore. We decided to separate. We lived apart but still tried to do things as a family for our boys. Colton still wanted to make things work. ‘I love you more than anything.’ ‘Please let me in.’ ‘Please talk to me.’ ‘Do you not want this anymore?’ ‘Let’s go to counseling.’ These are just some of the phrases I constantly heard come out of his mount. At this point I genuinely didn’t know who I was. I truly felt like I didn’t have anything to live for. I didn’t think it was possible to fix all that I had single handedly broken by turning to another man who was not my husband.
We spent Thanksgiving together and decided to stay with some family and hit the Black Friday sales. I was still talking to this other person and lying to my husband about what was really going on with me. Lying about why I wasn’t myself, and why I didn’t know what I wanted. After almost 24 hours straight of shopping we settled down for the night. I hadn’t been asleep for maybe two hours when I was woken up by my frantic husband. ‘Jenessa you have been lying to me.’ I was half asleep still and had no idea what was going on. Colton was pacing the room. ‘What is really going on?’ ‘Tell me the truth.’ In his hand was my phone. On my phone was a thread of messages to a girlfriend of mine who knew what was going on. I had been telling her I didn’t know what I wanted, and felt like the other guy was the one for me. Not Colton. As you can imagine, my husband was so blindsided by the whole thing. ‘Tell me what happened,’ he kept repeating. Tears continued to stream down my face. I was speechless. If I said it, then that made it more real. I didn’t want any of it to be real. The hole I was in seemed to get deeper and darker. Finally he asked me, ‘Did you sleep with him?’ I choked out a ‘Yes.’ Devastation and disappointment covered Colton’s face. It broke my heart to see how badly I had hurt him.
We decided to try counseling for the next few months. Bless his heart, Colton was still willing to give us a shot. But I was too far gone. I felt like I was this empty body roaming the earth barely making it by each day. I felt darkness all around me. And most of the time I didn’t feel anything at all. Everything was numb. My heart wasn’t in it. Nothing was working and we weren’t getting anywhere, so we filed for divorce. It wasn’t until we signed papers and I went home and hit my knees that I started to gain some clarity. I prayed harder than I have ever prayed in my whole entire life to know if I made the right decision. I had a pit in my stomach. I knew what we were doing was wrong. Turns out I wasn’t the only one who felt this way.
A couple weeks after we signed divorce papers, we had started talking more and contemplated if we made the right decision. One night my phone rang. It was Colton. ‘Hello,’ I said. Can you meet me at the house?’ Colton needed to talk. ‘Yeah I can do that.’ I drove there in a hurry, eager and nervous to hear what he had to say. There he began to tell me how he had this overwhelming feeling to call the courthouse. When a lady answered the phone, he began to explain to her that he had filed for a divorce he wanted to put it on hold. She said that if the judge hadn’t signed it yet, he could fill out a form to cancel it completely, but this was something he would have to come into the office to do. His plan was to wait until he got done with work, but feared if he waited any longer it would be too late, and the divorce would be final. So he left work to go to the courthouse in hopes he could still cancel the divorce. When he got there the judge had been reviewing our case and was just about to sign the papers. He barely made it in time. We didn’t know what this meant at the time, but we knew we needed to give another chance, all in.
We went to counseling again but this time it was more effective because we both were willing to put in all the effort to making our marriage work. We communicated more. We had hard conversations and didn’t leave until we were on the same page. We started going on dates more and making more meaningful time for each other. We decided to move to another state where we could start over fresh and just have each other and our family to focus on. We started going back to church. We prayed as a couple more often. We created a Christ-centered home where when we focused on the simple things, and we were blessed in abundance with the bigger things. We recommitted to each other and decided that no matter what obstacles life threw at us, we would work together to overcome them. It wasn’t easy, and there are still days that are difficult, but it is so worth fighting for. The negative feelings surrounding that experience were and are temporary. What we’ve built and continue to build is eternal.
Our life currently rocks. We have two beautiful boys. Colt continues to fulfill his dreams of changing the world. He owns a largely successful solar company, and I have even gotten out of my shell and am a proud new business owner myself. As my husband says, ‘The best parts of our life are a direct result of overcoming all the worst parts.’
I truly believe we can take any trial and make it a positive. I believe that we can learn and grow from those trails. Colton and I would not have the relationship we have today without the rock bottom we hit a few years ago. As hard as it was to go through, it has brought us closer than ever. I promise that your marriage it worth fighting for. Forgiveness is possible. You can gain trust again. You can move past all the pain and anguish and still create an amazing life worth living with your spouse. It’s not easy, but oh so worth it.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jenessa Ogden. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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