Monday, June 27, 2016

Forgiveness: Rebuilding a Family


Most people who know me know that I have been divorced from my children’s father for about five years now. Most who know me also know that we have been back together, working on picking up the pieces, for the last two.  And the truth is, sometimes I don’t know which is harder.

It would be easy to say that infidelity tore my family apart. That’s the obvious answer. But it’s the not-so-obvious things that probably started the tear. Nothing big or unique, but small rocks being thrown at our glass house. Ask any married woman and, if they’re honest, they will tell you that raising a family, being a wife, working and continuing to be the woman their husband fell in love with is nearly impossible.

In my case, we had three children under the age of six. All of my time was spent taking care of them. Not complaining. That’s what I’m supposed to do. I’m a parent and chose to have each one of them. Well, the last one may have been the result of a little too much wine and not enough hobbies, but loved and wanted nonetheless.

The Jackson trio
Looking back, there was a lot going on. Who has time to be crazy, sexy, cool? The attire of the day, or everyday for that matter, was sweat pants? And if they were clean, it was a really good day. I had one nursing, one still on the bottle and I usually couldn’t find the other one. Needless to say, it wasn’t a glamorous time in the Jackson household. There wasn’t time for anything, especially my spouse.

I know what you’re thinking…. that I’m making an excuse for my ex’s bad behavior.  I’m not. I still think he was an idiot and, most days, he would agree. But that doesn’t detract from the truth. We didn’t spend the time needed to nurture our relationship. I didn’t spend the time needed to nurture him.

When we first separated and subsequently divorced, things were pretty rocky. There was a lot of crying, cussing and arguing. Every time we got together, the tension could have killed an elephant. But after the initial pain subsided, we both decided that we wanted our kids to grow up with both of their parents…mainly because we didn’t. Both of us were raised by family members, not our parents, and neither of our fathers were integral parts of our lives. It was important to us that our kids had a relationship with both of us.

That led to us indirectly spending a lot of time together at their various functions. I think I saw more of him then, being divorced, than I did when we were married. The familiarity of our relationship and the demise of his “extracurricular activities” got the better of us. He said he wanted to work it out. I told him to take a lap. He persisted.

So, we decided to fight for it. I use the term fight because that’s what it is. Every day, we make a conscious decision to fight off the doubt, the naysayers, and the not-so-fond memories to make things work for our family.

The gang's all here. Back
together again
And why not? Isn’t family worth fighting for? We have no trouble fighting for a promotion. Hell, some of us will fight anyone who cracks a mean “yo-mama” joke. Why is there so much scorn and judgment for people wanting to save their families…especially in the face of infidelity? Wouldn’t you work to save an investment? We’ve invested years in this relationship, building a family and a life together. After going back and forth with others and with myself, I came to realize that I wanted this. Despite what it looked like to others, I wanted my family to work. That began with forgiveness. 

I’m not going lie. Forgiveness is hard, on both of our parts… me forgiving him and him forgiving himself. He’s had to not only reconcile with me, but with everyone he’s hurt and disappointed. It can’t feel good, but he’s doing it for us. We’re doing it for us.

There are days when we both say that quitting and going our separate ways would be so much easier. Yet, reconciliation is where the real reward lies. Working to restore a marriage should never be considered a waste of time. It’s to be applauded. Anyone can run. It takes real strength and courage to fight for your family… even if it’s against seemingly impossible odds.