A couple of weeks ago at my church (of which I have been getting involved with again), there was a mission. It was a three night series and was designed to get back in touch with God. It was a great experience and was led by Fr. Ron Hoye, a Vincentian priest of the Congregation of the Mission. They are based in St. Louis and conduct missions across the country. The Catholic church I attend brought him to lead the mission. And in presenting this post I am not in any way establishing one way to look at things or one thing to believe. If you have differing beliefs or thoughts, that is fine. I am just presenting my thoughts, my beliefs. This, by all accounts, is my journey.
Let me preface this by telling a bit more of myself. I was born and raised Catholic and always have had a belief in God, but not because it was what I was taught, it’s what I believed. But I guess it is, sort of, in a way because of what I was taught. But anyhoo, I always kept that belief and I’ve always had my faith.
I carried that faith with me through my youth, through college, and then adulthood. There have been periods where I have felt I “lost my way,” and was looking for ways to get back in touch with my faith. I went back and forth like this in my early college years, and then in 1995 I transferred to the University of Central Missouri (then Central Missouri State University) in Warrensburg to finish my undergraduate college work, and eventually my masters.
I was able to get back in my faith by going on a retreat about mid-way through the first semester. It was an eye-opening experience for me. I never experienced anything like it before. I attended several of these retreats as staff to help others maybe gain an awesome experience as I did on my first retreat. For a while I stayed true. After college, I went back and forth for several years with my faith and attending mass when I finally stopped again for about another seven years.
This year has been a year of changes for me. I moved out, away from my marriage (4.5 years at that point) and slowly began to find myself again. I have been attending weekly mass again and have changed jobs. I am much happier now than I was during the last half of my marriage. When this mission was announced, I decided to attend.
The mission was entertaining, informative, spiritual, and uplifting. It brought me back on the path toward God and having a relationship with Jesus. That’s what the mission was about, developing and maintaining that personal relationship with Jesus.
Fr. Hoye was wonderful as he presented stories about personal experiences that challenged and strengthened his faith. He was personable to his audience and brought a recurring theme to mind when I attended those retreats in college. That theme was “Let go, let God.” Believe that in God, all things are possible.
Something he did during the three days he spent here was at the end of the first night. He brought along several notepads of sticky notes. He told us to write three things down that we’re thankful or grateful for from the day before going to bed. Then, upon waking up in the morning take the note off and stick on the bathroom mirror (or some place where it would be accessible). Additionally, he said it has to be three different things each time. We can’t double up. It would be for about 25 days, because that is how many sheets of paper were possible in the notepad.
The exercise becomes more difficult to do as each day passes. I am a little more than half way through. It really makes you think and does put your priorities in perspective. In doing this, it also puts my faith in check. It keeps me on the path to do all I can to maintain that personal relationship with Jesus, despite what life brings my way. Even though I may get busy with work or other life issues (as has happened since the mission), I still stay true in my continuing journey with God.
One more thing about Fr. Hoye. He has written a book called “Awake.” It is intended for those who would like to grow more closer to God and have that more personal relationship. The book contains short stories and reflections on faith and following Christ. It is an enlightening and spiritual addition on the journey with Jesus.
On Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, I ended the first (and longest) relationship I have had. I’ve had friends get married, divorce, remarry, and so on. I’ve seen and heard of friends, family, and other people stay together for 10, 20, 30 or more years. So in light of my recent divorce, I thought I would share some thoughts about my relationship, and relationships in general.
I will start with a little bit of background.
Honestly, I have only had a few dates in college and some after, but it never really went anywhere beyond a first date (don’t ask me why).
Several years ago, (a little over 15 years) I moved back to Marshall from Warrensburg, where I went to finish college after transferring from State Fair Community College in Sedalia. I had jobs here and there and then began working at the Habilitation Center here in Marshall, and worked there for six and half years. During the course of my employment, I began a “relationship” with a coworker and only lasted a couple of months or so. We went out a few times. We spent some time together. Then all of sudden she just stopped talking to me. When we were together, the communication wasn’t there anymore. I don’t know what happened. Then, one night we made plans for me to come over to her place and spend some time together. I went and no one was home. Come to find out she went out with some other friends without saying a word to me, and she didn’t even invite me after I found out. So apparently that was that.
A couple of years later I begin another “relationship” at the Hab Center. That lasted just a few weeks. We spent some time together and enjoyed each other’s company, but didn’t want to rush into anything “serious.” So it was casual. We didn’t want to “label” it. But, apparently at one point we discovered that we just weren’t in the same “place.” We went our separate ways and that was that.
I came to the conclusion that relationships at the Hab Center just didn’t work out.
At least for me.
However, a couple of years later (end of summer 2009), I added a friend on my Facebook. I knew her in high school. We had a few classes together over the years and graduated together. As we commented and made posts on each other’s page, I found out she worked at the Hab Center (and has been there for quite some time). She worked in a different unit than I, but we carried on getting to know each other again and sharing high school experiences and memories.
After her divorce, we decided to step up our relationship, and that I would move in with her and her three children from previous marriages. Shortly after, we were talking about marriage and spending the rest of our lives together. So, one day I finally popped the question. We were married about a year and a half later. At this point, I was her third marriage and this was my first. We started off pretty good by spending time together, talking, doing family things with the children, vacations, and so on. She was telling me how much she loved me and posting messages and little “lovey-dovey” memes to my Facebook page. It was all good.
Then nearly two years into the marriage, our communication broke down, she didn’t seem that into me (although she did tell me from time to time she still loved me), we didn’t do a lot things together anymore, and she excluded from things. She spent more and more time away from me. So I got to a point where I didn’t know how to talk to her anymore. The more time she spent away from me, the more I spent time away from her. And the distance grew. At least for me.
This went on for a while, and I was going back and forth if I should leave or stay. Ultimately, I decided to leave. I thought the only way I could do this is if I just did it quick like a band-aid. I know I probably could have handled it differently (and should have), but at the time that’s all I could do. It was causing me stress and I had to look out for me too.
Bottom line was I think we were just too different. So I guess my relationships, which began at the Hab Center, didn’t work out for me.
I knew those differences we had going in, and I could get past them at first. But when the distance between us grew for me, those differences seemed to get amplified and I just could not go on. She apparently still wanted this relationship and still seemed to love me, but her actions were not telling me that. So I moved out.
Since I have left, I found myself again. I think the marriage (especially the last couple of years or so) really boxed me in. I became withdrawn in myself. With the help of some coworkers from my last job, I broke free from the shell I was in and became more myself. I could tell a difference a few weeks after I moved out. And there is a huge difference in the way I feel now as opposed to the way I felt then.
After taking time contemplating divorce, I finally filed and received the judgement of divorce. I want her to be happy. I just don’t think I could do that anymore and still be able to be truly happy myself.
And I don’t want to sound like I’m jealous or upset, (maybe a little frustrated), but if it weren’t for the fact that all the things she was doing with me when we were first together, she is doing with him. Posting pictures, etc. on Facebook, giving him compliments, and so on and so on. Maybe if she still seemed that interested in me, we might still be together. But who knows.
I just want to say I’m happy for her. If she is truly happy, and has moved on, that is great. More power to her. I moved on too, a few months after I moved out.
In writing this, I also wanted to explore a little about what makes a good marriage. Or what are the essential “ingredients” for a happy, healthy marriage. You might hear advice from many people and so-called experts, but it is just sifting through everything and applying what you can to your situation or marriage.
The following information is from an article by Jeffrey Drew, Sonya Britt, and Sandra Huston in “Examining the Relationship Between Financial Issues and Divorce.”
6 Keys to a Good Marriage
Worship and Pray together
To begin with, this was a big difference. She was Wiccan and I am Catholic. A lot of people asked how that would work. Well it seemed fine at first. We didn’t impose each other’s religion on one another, so it seemed to work. I think it became more like a “what’s hers is hers and mine is mine” type of thing. (Which I also think became one of the big problems in the marriage). We didn’t really grow spiritually or have a strong faith foundation upon which to share.
As I said, communication began to falter. The more she stopped really communicating with me and excluding me from things, the more I distanced myself from her. As the distance grew, the less I felt a part of the marriage.
Leave and Cleave
This has to do with establishing your own home as a married couple, but not forgetting your parents. I think, on the whole, we did that. We still visited or did things with her mom because she lives in Marshall. My parents live in Texas. We still visited them in the summer a couple of times, and all in all, we remained close with them. But our home seemed to be more HER home. I emphasize her because it seemed like she would make all the decisions for the family and it didn’t seem like my input was valuable or necessarily needed.
Date Your Spouse
This is something we did kind of frequently early on in the relationship, but then nearly two years into the marriage we sort of stopped. And the few times we did go out together, there was a silence between us. At least I felt it. And if she was fine with not spending time together, not doing things together, not really communicating, then that’s on her. But that’s not how I view a happy, healthy marriage. And like I said, I didn’t really know how to talk to her anymore about these issues, so they were never discussed.
This was a big issue. And it really became an even bigger issue as time went on. I go back to the “what’s hers is hers and mine is mine” mentality. That’s how she wanted to view our money and finances. I was fine with this at first. But towards that midway point again it really started to become an issue with me. I tried to talk to her about creating a budget and going through our expenses, but she didn’t seem to want to talk about it so I left it alone again. She still wanted to do these fun things with her kids like go to concerts, or spending what seemed like hundreds of dollars on the kids every Christmas and every birthday, and such, and then complain about not having any money. But again, I left it alone because I didn’t feel I could talk to her about the issue.
She used to do this in the beginning for me. I would return the gesture. But like everything else, she stopped doing it or didn’t do it as much. Sometimes it appeared a little forced to me. And as the distance grew, the more I became withdrawn and unhappy so I didn’t necessarily want to compliment her, although, at times I tried.
There are other tips and advice for a successful marriage to be found. Books, articles, blogs, neighbors, family and friends are all sources in which you can get information and advice from, whether voluntarily or not. This was just a small list I found through a newsletter from a local church I thought to be appropriate and accurate in this instance.
And maybe they don’t work for everyone. And this is probably not a complete list, so don’t just think that this is all it takes. There is love and commitment, intimacy, patience and a host of other factors for a happy, successful marriage.
So that is all now. I believe I have rattled on long enough. If your marriage (relationship) is working, then kudos! Keep it up! But if it is failing on any level, and you still have somewhat good communication, talk things through to help save it if you can. But after some work, if it is still not helping the situation, then it may be time to part ways.