Eight months after we were married, we became pregnant with our son, PJ. He was born nearly 5 months after our 1st anniversary. We quickly fell into the chaos that only new parents know, drifting past each other in a sleepy haze as we doted on this amazing being that had stormed into our lives. We tended to our son with everything we had, through his infancy into toddler-hood and into his diagnosis of Autism shortly after he turned two. Parenthood in and of itself changed everything, but that diagnosis...the discovery that PJ had Autism turned my world upside down. I threw myself into every aspect of his therapies, tracked every milestone as they crept by. I vaguely noticed that, maybe, I wasn't tending to my marriage, but it wasn't a concern I took very seriously. I certainly didn't consider the idea that Pete was drifting away. There was a growing valley between us as I wildly tried to keep my son connected to the world- what was more important?
This time last year, I was in bed reading Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Melton (of Momastery fame) and came across an essay entitled "Easter", detailing the demolition and rebuilding of her marriage to her husband. She spoke of going through the motions of love and marriage- just enough sex, just enough affection, just...enough. There was no way to pinpoint what was happening between them but to say that there was a disconnect. I nodded as I read, saying "Yes. This. This is what I would say to Pete, written down perfectly." I wanted to show it to him, but instead, I rolled over and went to sleep.
I never reached out. Pete didn't, either, and a few months later, it all came to a head. A late night, a lot of blame, and the worst fight we had ever had brought us to the decision to take leave of our marriage. Pete didn't sleep at home again for nearly four months. My son was confused, and although we worked together as a team for his sake, the tension between us was palpable, even to an Autistic toddler. His moods and behavior declined- another thing that was sacrificed on this messy alter, and I despised myself for causing his hurt. Still, I couldn't simply roll over and go back to way things were between Pete and I, and neither could I just go for the clean break. Instead, we sought counseling.
It took a few tries, but we found a good therapist. This ended up being the decision that, in the end, gave our marriage a new heartbeat and continues to sustain it. Every week, we go in and sit on the couch and we agree to lay. it. all. out. There's no hiding, no avoidance, no pretense. And let me tell you something, folks. It's hard for me. I had to bring all of my hurt and accusations and broken, missing pieces to the table, and I also had to prepare myself for the understanding that I wasn't simply a victim in our marital troubles. I carried a bucket full of blame myself. Pete and I, both, had wandered so far from where we started, and in two different directions. Our therapist is our road map, easing us off the wrong path by asking the right questions to help us find a new path.
It's been nearly a year since that terrible night, and while we have come so far, we still have miles to go. Miles. The road is bumpy, messy, rocky, and soooooooooooooooo looooooooooong. And it's still cluttered with books and laundry and PJ's toys. In so many ways, the road looks the same. It's Pete and I who look different. But, that's the good news, right? There is a road ahead of us. Us.