*Guest post by Shawna Hensley
When we got married, my husband and I said our vows, but I didn’t expect to experience the “worse” part of better or worse for a long time.
But here I was, three years later, driving to the grocery store while my siblings were watching our kids, praying that God would let me get into a car accident and die so that I could stop feeling numb and empty inside.
My relationship with my husband was becoming more and more distant. We were still great friends; we would chat about surface stuff, but I didn’t really let him in. It t was evident in our sex life too. The romance was gone. We were just two roommates raising kids together. I was just existing to raise my kids and to be the go-between for my husband and the kids, making sure that everyone was clothed and fed. How had things changed so much for us?
My husband and I had ended up getting pregnant during our first year of marriage. That was a shocker for me. I didn’t think it would happen so quickly for us. I was so into my career and that’s all I was focused on. I was in my second year of teaching and on the fast track to becoming an administrator. My principal was so impressed with me my first year that I was promoted to department chair and I was given the responsibility of overseeing the online grading system. So for me, that was a huge indicator that I had a big, bright future in my career. I was excited. I had a man I loved in my life, my best friend, along with a promising career. Nothing was going to stop me.
Well, getting pregnant was a game-changer becauseI it was like a light switch went off in my husband's mind. He got into super-grind mode and was constantly working, getting training on how to start his own business so that our family could be financially secure. We talked about it and agreed that I would stay home with our baby the first couple of years. Even though I had my career goals, I wanted my baby to have the best of me, so I was willing to sacrifice a couple of years.
I didn’t realize how hard that decision would hit me.
The first day of school that fall, I sat on the bed with my baby and cried. It was 8am; the school bell would be ringing and kids would be filing into their classrooms. But here I was, at home by myself. I was seeing less and less of my husband, and I was lonely. Not just lonely but I also felt like I had no sense of direction or purpose. Yes, I was a mom but I couldn’t rejoice that much because a huge part of my identity was now gone. I wasn’t a career woman any more and I didn’t know how to handle that.
Our second baby boy was born a year later and everyone around me was super excited for us. I was more depressed than ever. But to everyone else I was still the same old Shawna. I would make jokes and be my usual obnoxious self in front of our friends and family. What they didn’t know was that I had started drinking alcohol at all times of the day to keep myself sane. I would drown myself in reality TV shows to avoid thinking about how I was feeling. My depression was just underneath my cheerful façade. I was really good at fooling everyone. But inside I just regretted getting married and I couldn’t see a way out.
One day I woke up and realized that I couldn’t change my situation or my husband, but I could definitely change my mindset. I cut out the TV watching, and the drinking, and started listening to inspirational podcasts. I made it my goal to wake up extra early, before the kids, to spend time alone with God.
Just doing those few things has been a huge help for my outlook on life. I think that mindset is everything. I still have the same responsibilities, still face the same challenges of being a stay-at-home wife and mom but I’m trying to be more intentional about communicating with my husband about what I’m thinking and feeling. Some weeks are better than others with us, but I think that being more vulnerable to him in that way will definitely improve our chemistry and bring back romance over time.
I don’t have it all figured it out yet. I still don’t know what path to take as far as my profession is concerned. My biggest goal right now is to make sure my kids is to make get the best of me. I’m still waiting for God to give me clarity as far as my career is concerned. But I’m definitely more at peace, and it’s because I decided to work on myself instead of wallowing in my feelings. That feeling of helplessness and being lost is going away and I’m hopeful about what the future will bring.
I don’t want to make it seem like marriage is a curse, or that your life is over when you do get married, but I wish more people understood that marriage really isn’t just a lifelong date night.
Not at all.
You and your spouse will go through your ups and downs. And even though you may think you know what you’re getting into, trust me when I say that the dark times can get very dark. But there is one thing you can control: you. You may not be able to change the circumstances you’re in, or your spouse, but you can change the way you think and approach your situation. And that will make all the difference in the atmosphere of your home, the interactions with your spouse, and the happiness of your kids.
*Shawna Hensley is a stay-at-home wife and mom from Alabama. Her hobbies include writing, trying new recipes, and tutoring kids.