When I met the man who would eventually be my husband, 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 he 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. He was my person. I loved him so much, despite feeling so hurt and rejected by him. Furthermore, 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. My husband 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 at the time. 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 Doyle after a series of searches strange online, and it immediately resonated. 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.
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. I seemed to have successfully Upcycled my Husband, instead of thrown him away.
Our relationship is better than I ever thought possible. My dreams are alive in front of me: my children play in our garden and fields, 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.
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 stopped waiting and expecting him to fix me and started doing that work myself. I became a Certified Relationship Coach with Laura Doyle Connect in 2018 and served as a coach for them for a year.
After the time wore on, I realized that I had a vision for myself that didn’t fit in the box they had given me. I wanted to coach my clients for longer, let them text me, and follow me on social media and most of all– I wanted to be honest with them and charge them less. The skills that I use to navigate all of my relationships are too important to hold back by rules that I didn’t understand. I had to do more for my clients, who are the bravest, most incredible women in the world.
I also had new ideas and new influences that made a lot of sense to me. Esther Perel, John Grey, and others have broadened my understanding of intimate relationships. I also integrate their ideas with modern day feminism and combine them with what motherhood has taught me.
My prayers kept being answered as I asked for guidance and a social outlet, which is when I began to connect with my cousin, Ashley, whom I had loved from afar for many years. Now we talk every day, all the time with the Marco Polo app. With her kind ear, I came up with the idea for this community: A perpetual dinner party for ladies to bring their whole selves. We work so hard and deserve so much more than traditional social media outlets provide.
I felt called to create a support group for women that was a safe and fun place to be social and get good relationship advice. I’m so incredibly grateful that I found Mighty Networks as a place to host me and my fellow Flourishing Ladies.
I want happy discussions, privacy, fun, love, and a safe place to share all the inner workings of intimate relationships. I want a place for my clients and friends to bring everything to the table. A place that is free and free of ads and data tracking, where we don’t have to worry about spying mother-in-laws or getting the unneeded advice from that one friend who has always been miserable. This is the place where we find out what Aristotle meant when he said the purpose of living life is to flourish.
I want to flourish and I want you to too. Being a Flourishing Lady means you are committed to making changes that work for you and your family. It’s a group where you can bring your woes without judgment. It’s a place where you are who you are and no one will tell you to ever be someone else. It’s a place for ideas and questions and strategies when we confront this Brave New World. And it’s a place where I am– a relationship coach that went from actually filing for divorce to having a working, blissful, and supportive marriage. I continue to work and try new things in my relationship while I find out how all the nuances work for me. I’m on my journey and I feel so incredibly honored when my friends share theirs too.
I’m a mom of two little ones, so I know how that is too. Flourishing Ladies has a place for all these discussions. So come on in and take a look around and see if you’d like to be a part of our tribe of beautiful, vibrant, fulfilled ladies as we struggle to grapple with whatever comes next.
I’m also a wedding officiant and realtionship coach serving Nevada County and surrounding areas. I decided to officiate in my community because I believe that one of the most important days of your life should be well thought-out, articulate, beautiful, and deeply moving. I’m well organized, intuitive, and love a challenge. My services are non-religious. I am a supporter of the LGBT community and would love to do your wedding no matter who you are and who you love.
530.304.6524 – text or leave a message.
Follow me on instagram @happilyeverbonnie