When I met Claudio, I knew he was the funniest, intellectual, good-hearted, interesting, caring man I’d ever know. I was over the moon when I started to realize he felt the same way about me. In those first months, complete strangers would stop and congratulate us on our over-the-top, completely obvious infatuation with each other. At a community dance party, we had the whole dance floor make a huge circle around us. We were legendary.
But both of us are headstrong with hot tempers. We saw a marriage counselor within a year of being wed. Some things got better and we started planning for our first child, but life got more stressful; we argued even more. I was never getting what I wanted. I thought his ideas were short-sighted and childish. I was doing all the housework, I was earning most of the money, I was carrying the baby, I was doing everything! And I was getting resentful.
After our baby was born, things got way worse. I had postpartum depression and felt like my life had been ripped away. All the affection, fun, and intimacy was gone from our lives. The resentment was palpable and it went both ways. I felt like he didn’t care about me, he didn’t want anything to do with me. Every part of me hurt for what I used to have.
With no light at the end of the tunnel, I filed for divorce. During our separation, I saw all that I was at risk of losing: a loving family unit, and a working homestead where we would grow our own food, raise animals, and have lazy days in the warmth of the sun or cozy nights by the fire– dreams that Claudio and I had once dreamed up, long ago, together. After a few weeks of being separated, I realized I hadn’t picked the wrong man to marry. Claudio was my person. I loved him so much, despite feeling so hurt and rejected by him. Furthermore, our our son needed him. He missed Papa, and I told him I did too.
While we were separated, we found out I was pregnant. The promise of another child was what I wanted but I was afraid of what our life would look like. Claudio asked me if I would delay our divorce plans until after the birth of our daughter; I remember him on his knees, quietly weeping and holding my belly. I was relieved and hopeful, but fearful it would be short-lived.
He moved back in, as did our old dynamic. Our daughter was born and I was fearful that he would leave me at any moment, but I did my best to get more sleep and to take better care of myself. Luckily our daughter was happy and slept easier. She was a blessing that lit up his heart and was easy to love for both of us. But I was still angry and would rage when he would say hurtful things to me in tense moments.
I screamed a lot in my car. Then I finally prayed, which was unusual, me being an atheist. I was lost and wanted to be better, to do better. All of my dreams and the happiness of my children depended on it. I knew what it felt like to lose it all and I didn’t want to go back there.
I found the Empowered Wife by Laura after a series of searches online, and it immediately resonated. This was the instruction manual I was looking for! I had been doing all the wrong things and buying into a whole lot of bad advice. My prayers were answered when I read that book.
When I first used the phrase “whatever you think,” I think he nearly fell over. I shifted my perspective: instead of blaming him for everything, I saw myself as a victim of my own impossibly high standards. I made my own happiness a priority over daily minutiae that previously consumed my attention. I made a practice of receiving every gift he gives with grace. I had no idea that I was rejecting him every time I told him no to an offer or gift; he loves to give, and I was depriving him of the joy and satisfaction of that generosity. I stopped oversharing in the name of “helping” and “communicating,” which I was using as a cover for criticism and control. I let him lead and he started doing more. Our relationship is better than I ever thought possible, and it is a joy to support him in building a beautiful life for all of us. I still have hard days, but instead of being at their mercy, I turn to my friends and the things that bring me joy. I get coaching. I fix me. I’m not waiting for him to do it for me anymore.
My dreams are alive in front of me: my children play in the field that we will soon turn into a garden, we have our long lazy days in the sun and warm cozy nights by the fire, we dance in the kitchen and sing old country duets in the car. We have dinner together most nights, where we talk about how wonderful it is to be together. We stay up late just to be in each other’s company. We are rich in love and laughter and fun, and my heart overflows with gratitude.
I feel so much freer now. Relationships across all areas of my life make more sense. It’s clear to me what my responsibility is and when I need to step back. I had no idea a life of joy and love could be so easy, and I feel called to share these tools with other women so they too can enjoy such happiness and freedom.