I was young, and having no practical sense of what was needed to make a smart, righteous decision regarding marriage, I simply followed my list: Priesthood holder/RM, plays the piano, has a good family, wants a family, is smart, is tall, is… (The list continued generically)
The night before we went to the temple we had a huge fight. I didn’t understand what conflict was- it was just a “fight” and following that, we did not have any coping skills for how to create change and resolution between two people. But, I did have the Spirit which at that moment was loud in my heart- speaking to me, “do not get married to him.” I didn’t listen and was married the next morning.
I was twenty and happy to drop out of school to support his schooling- a dire task as he was just applying for a program that was considered intense by anyone’s standards and he simply did not have time to work. This one dynamic seemed to become dominant, immediately in our marriage- I was there to support him.
Abuse began in the first month and continued for years. I was hit, I was punched, I was called the worst kind of names while being sworn at and I was forced to have sex upon occasion. Pregnancy or holding a baby didn’t change anything. His anger had no bounds- he even hurt me sitting in church by applying pressure to sensitive places. We didn’t connect emotionally- which took away the desire to want to have sex with him. It was a vicious cycle. We were two people on opposite sides of the universe in every way but especially in how we looked at life. He was on the extreme of logical and I was on the extreme of emotional. Through the years I fought with a passion to find terms in which to relate and during that time I moved toward the logical side and worked to suppress my emotions. Several times I wanted to end my life and would have one night- but the cry of my one month old child pulled me into my senses and I chose to live.
So how did I live with this? I dove into my children, my friends, church callings, and hobbies. I had so many of them and they kept me busy. I avoided my husband as much as possible- which also meant avoiding the truth, too.
In all of this, somewhere, I lost me. Seemingly, one day I was valiant and the next day I was not. I found myself starved for attention and found it in male acquaintances everywhere I went. I kept things appropriate in my “real” life but I began developing a secret, dark life. I entered a chat room, met men easily, and began to have phone conversations that led to phone sex which eventually led to having an affair. I was in such a bad place spiritually and emotionally that I just didn’t care. I wrote an online, public journal that described everything I was doing and my anger at the world. I had a huge following but this wasn’t positive- I led many people down my path and saw evil up close. At this point I had learned that the opposite of love wasn’t hate- it was indifference and I had plenty of it.
That year my marriage ended. I took stock of my family and decided that I had to make some changes but as I was so messed up, it took awhile. And, it took intervention- my family (living far away) knew I was not myself but they had no idea how deeply hurt and angry I was. I had never even told them about the abuse. The turnaround began with heavenly intervention and some powerful spiritual experiences that I really didn’t understand. But, they did get my attention and through three years I fought to end the affair and to get my boundaries straight. I fought to be a better mother to my children and I fought to figure out what had happened to me.
Heavenly Father has been merciful and so loving to me. Yes, the lessons have been hard but I have learned that honesty is the most valuable attribute to healing and moving in a positive, forward direction. I was forgiven and as I gave myself to the atonement, I found further forgiveness.
One fault at a time, the Savior has taken and worked to heal my heart. This past year I found myself in the temple realizing that I had forgiven my ex-husband his trespasses even though he himself had never asked for it.
Change, growth, realization of potential- all of these things were line upon line. As I gave myself in service, the Lord gave me opportunities to shape my character into the kind of daughter of a Heavenly King that I needed to be.
The challenges don’t go away, however strength does increase. As a mother, I’m finally who and where I want to be for my children. And, something else- I can once again see me as a potential eternal companion to someone else. God works miracles every day; our job is to live in gratitude with as much faith as we can muster so that we are prepared to allow the miracles to take place!
I married my high school sweetheart. We had dated on and off a total of 8 years and then finally did get married in the Mesa temple. At the time of my marriage I thought I was doing the right thing but there were red flags I had ignored, thinking that love could conquer all.
My marriage was a roller coaster ride of ups and downs and episodes of violence that became progressively worse as years went on. First it started with pushing and shoving and grabbing me really hard and name calling. It progressively got worse with screaming and yelling and shoving me against things, holding my arms so hard it left bruises, and kicking me and hitting me and being called the worst and filthiest names you could imagine. During the years, we had 3 wonderful amazing boys. I loved my husband but he had his own demons he could never seem to get rid of. We went to counseling a few times and some times he wasn’t willing to. He would get angry when I would share things he didn’t want me to tell about. Several times I thought of leaving. Several times I would get in the car and drive for hours wondering if this would be the final straw. Each time I would return back home thinking that I had made a covenant in the Lords temple and that I just had to work harder. What I didnt realize was that this was not what the Lord wanted from me and my children. I became numb to the pain and stuffed it with eating. I convinced myself that since we had good times and it wasn’t always bad, maybe it was all okay and I had to keep clinging to this notion of “my eternal family”. I was in it for the long haul, as miserable as it was at times.
He always did things when people weren’t around and I was made to feel like I was delusional, like his anger and temper and physical abuse were all my imagination and I was just over exaggerating. I hid the abuse from my friends and family for all the years we were married. I was a deeply miserable person trying so hard to be happy in a situation that was so beyond unhealthy for me. I had become unhealthy and very co-dependent in the relationshiop as well.
I started noticing some changes in him and his behavior changed more and more towards me. Unbeknownst to me he put himself on the internet, became involved with several women, and he dabbled in pornography as well. Eventually it came to head one summer when he lost his temper at a family reunion and assaulted my sister. It all unraveled from then on, more horrific violence, my life was threatened, my children were scared and I saw that there was no longer a marriage. He left us, and I was left with no money and eventually no home.
Through all the turmoil and trial and the most devastating and heart wrenching time of my life, I got to know my Savior and Redeemer on such a personal level beyond one I had ever imagined. I became so aware that God was so aware of me and that He never forgot me and who I was and what I was going through. Some Sundays it was a chore to go to church and paste a smile on my face and keep going but I did it knowing I was setting an example for my children and that they needed the gospel to hold onto. There were people who judged me and to this day have not spoken to me since my husband left but in the end, I always had to remember that it is between the Lord and I and not anyone else or what they think of me. There were days I collapsed in a puddle on the floor. There were days I was so beyond depressed that I prayed that God would let me die.
Thank goodness He never allowed for that to happen. He allowed me to learn and grown and move forward and heal and He reminded me who I was; His precious child who had a special purpose to serve on this earth. I had a been a victim but I could not let that define me. I had to get out of the victim mode and own my voice and my power. I also had to take accountability for the parts I did play in an unhealthy relationship that was our marriage. Until then I could not move forward. I had to forgive myself and I had to forgive him. I eventually realized that all that my husband had done had nothing to do with me and everything to do with himself and his own issues. I broke the cycle of abuse so that it was not passed on to my boys. I had to stay strong when I didn’t have the strength to and many days that was a prayer I gave to God. I had to turn it over to him over and over and over again.
I eventually came to the realization of who I really was and his purpose for me and my life has never been the same. I’ve been a single mother for 7 years and I have had my ups and downs but boy have I lived! I have savored precious moments in my life. I have a closer relationship with God. I have overcome many things and have learned how to apply the Atonement and truly forgive and move forward. I learned how unhealthy I was and learned to be a healthy person and the beauty of being in a healthy relationship. I have even loved and lost again but learned so much in the process and am all the better person for having experienced it and for all of these life experiences that have been woven into the tapestry of my life and made me who I am. I am forever grateful. I am in gratitude to a loving Heavenly Father who loves me beyond compare. I am grateful for the deepest levels of compassion that I now know and great a love for my fellowmen. Life is all about learning and boy did I learn a lot. Today I know who I am and I love who I am and I am living my dreams and doing God’s work and that is the most incredible feeling. Life is worth living! If you allow it, God has so much joy ahead for you. There is a light and great joy at the end of the tunnel and everyday I feel it’s radiance as it shines on me and my life and leads me closer to my Savior.
Growing up as a member of the church I always saw marriage as something that lasted forever. In Young Women I was taught that a marriage in the Temple should be a goal. So, I made it my goal to get married in the Temple. I dreamed of my forever family and looked forward to it. My priority wasn’t to go to school and get an education, but first and foremost to raise a family. I met my ex-husband through his sister. We were in the same class at church, and played sports together. He got off his mission and we dated for a short 2 months before becoming engaged. I prayed about getting married and felt good about it. I loved him, and as time passed my love for him grew and the family I dreamed of became a reality. I was 19 at the time of my marriage, I was so happy to be a wife and after almost two years, a mother of a little boy.
My husband was addicted to porn, I didn't know it at the time but he was going and visiting bars that had nude girls. When my oldest was 3 years old he went to the bishop and confessed and then told me what was going on. I was crushed. I didn't understand why something like that could happen. He was not just going to the bars but he was doing things there that were really wrong. I felt like I was a nothing, and wondered what was wrong with the way I looked, I must not have been skinny enough or pretty enough. He worked through the repentance process and came back to church.
The next 13 years would be rough, with a lot of ups and downs. The pornography continued and worst of all, he became abusive to my boys. He beat one of them up so bad that CPS got involved and my husband was removed from the home. He came back though, and things never got better. He was an abusive, manipulative man. He put me down and did the same to my boys.
By the end of it he was doing drugs and in contact with other women. I was truly devastated when it came time for a divorce. I did not want to get divorced. I was in it for good, and I don't give up that easy. My dream of a forever family was falling apart and I didn't know how to stop it. Now I realize that Heavenly Father had a greater plan for me. He allowed me to go through that to make me who I am today. He had a better plan for me but in order to get there I had to go through a really hard time. I asked myself why? I knew when I prayed about the marriage that it was right, and that it was what I was supposed to do, so what happened? Why did it end? I realize now that Heavenly Father will say yes, Yes, it is right. Yes, Get married. But it can only work if you are both living and keeping the promises and covenants that you made. If one of you strays it will not work.
I also realize that we all have our free agency and Heavenly Father can't take that away. I also learned that it was not me that caused him to look at pornography, it would not have mattered how skinny I was or how pretty I was. He had an addiction. I would not change what I have been through because today I am strong. I know who I am and I know what I want. I think what helped me is that when I first got divorced I relied a lot on prayer. That's where I gained strength and that is how I made it through my days.
I never thought I would be divorced very long, I thought I would be married really soon after the divorce. I was wrong about that too. I was divorced for 4 years. I am glad that I was because in that four years I had to learn about myself. I learned how to be comfortable being alone, I learned that what my ex thought about me did not define who I am. I learned that I am important and worthy of being with someone good. I learned that I am important. I rediscovered what I wanted and what my dreams are. I learned how to trust my decisions and not to second guess myself. I was comfortable in my own skin. I began to love myself and feel beautiful again. I am glad I was single for that time so that I could rediscover who I was. I really feel that you need to love yourself before you can love anyone else.
I met my husband online shortly after being divorced. We were friends, we texted and talked and chatted on facebook for about 3 years before we finally met in person. I was dating and talking to other guys during that time. In the town where I lived there were not any LDS men that I could date, so I went online. The whole time I dated I still kept in touch with Brent. I would send occasional texts and we would talk. It seemed like I had to go through a lot of duds before I finally came across the man I had been praying for for so long. We met in San Antonio in 2010 we have been inseparable since then. I realized that some things that go wrong in a marriage are that we get comfortable and forget about the little things. We forget to write love letters or send I love you texts for no reason. I know now what I can do better to make my marriage successful. We both need to work together to keep the covenants we have made, I need to let him know how much I appreciate him, we make it a point to pray together as a couple every night, we go on our weekly dates, we serve each other and we communicate. In our marriage we have 7 kids together. We decided that it would not be his kids and my kids but our kids. They all have the same rules and we work together on the discipline. We support each other and talk about everything. The kids have adjusted very well, we haven't up to this point had very many problems. I think the key is to never undermine each other, to be supportive and communicate if you disagree with something. We decided that even with the kids here on the weekends we take time for each other and go on dates. We take turns planning the dates and we try to stay away from the usual movie and dinner dates. Some of the things we have done are, a picnic in the mountains by a stream, hiking, we went to the salt flats, 4 wheeling, we enjoy going somewhere over night when we don't have all the kids, we also enjoy taking trips. I can see my forever family once again only this time I know what it takes to make it work and I will do all that I can to do my part. S. H.
I was married for 12 yrs and knew that we had some serious problems but had no idea that things were as bad as they were. I've realized since, that when a partner is done she is done and no amount of begging or crying or trying to change will make any difference. In my case, my wife made up her mind and prepared for the day she would leave. By the time I realized this, it was too late to change or fix it.
I was told that I wasn't there for her. I was away from home about half the month and home for half the month. But when I was home I was busy doing things I needed to do. I didn't think about how she felt. I didn't realize that she needed time with me. So after a few years of that, she was done.
I don't blame her. I now see it in many other marriages. Men think that as long as they are out working their butts off and bringing in good money so their families can have a good life that everything is great at home. Men think that because they sacrifice so much of their time at work that they are giving what they need to give to the marriage. I realized that a woman needs to feel special. She needs to feel important. She needs someone to talk to. Someone lean on. Men come home after a long day at work and they are tired. Their wife wants to go out. She has been home all day and just wants to get out. Or if she works outside the home she comes home and works on everything that needs to be done around the house. She needs a break and she wants to spend some quality time with her man. Also I've learned that women want a man to be a man. This is how a date goes in most homes in America. The wife says, I want to go out.. where do you want to go? I don't care you decide.. do you want to go to a movie? That's fine.. what movie do you want to go see? I don't care, you decide. Blablabla.. Men need to plan the date from beginning to end and then call their wife and ask her out. Tell her you'll pick her up at 7 pm and that's all she needs to know. A man needs to put some thought and effort into a date. People need to put thought and effort into their marriages.
I thought that I was doing my part by providing my family with a good living. I thought that if I was happy then she was happy too. I had what I thought I wanted. I had a wife, 4 kids, a nice home and a good job. She would tell me she missed me when I was gone. She told me she hated my work. I agreed with both of those comments. I missed my family when I was gone and I didn't go to work because it was fun. I did it because it was good money. I would ask her where else can I make this kind of money? But I didn't realize that all she needed was some of my valuable time. She turned to others who gave her what I didn't. We went through 2 yrs of big problems, fighting about all kinds of things. I started getting selfish and wanting her to make me feel important. I would come home from work and get upset that she didn't run up and give me a kiss and a hug after being gone for 3 or 4 days. I didn't think about how she felt. I was only concerned about how I felt. We were separated the 1st week of feb 2007. I thought that we would be able to work through our problems and that eventually we would be back together. By May I knew it was over. She was trying to get me to make the decision. She did things to make me mad so I would be the one to ask for the divorce. I told her I wouldn't ever ask for it so she finally did and we were divorced by Aug. At first I was hurt but that soon turned to anger. I couldn't even talk to her without getting very upset.
It was very embarrassing being divorced. It was like I was a failure. I failed to keep my family together. I went to church and thought everyone was judging me. It was hard to go to church alone. I soon realized that first, people don't think about you as much as you think they do and second that I was loved even though things worked out the way they did.
I wanted to be married again and I thought that I would probably meet a great woman very soon. In fact my brother told me to wait at least 2 yrs to get married. I agreed with him but thought to myself that I would meet someone much quicker than that. I started meeting women online and it was fun dating but then it got discouraging. Every time I met someone they just weren't the right one for me. I had a big list of things I wanted in a woman. I felt like I made a mistake in my first marriage so I was determined to make sure I found the perfect woman for me. I wouldn't even give a woman a second look if she didn't have the things on my list. There were more times than not that I gave up with dating online. And there weren't any women in my small town who I was interested in so I didn't date. I got very discouraged and asked God many times why I couldn't meet the woman that was being prepared for me. ( I later realized that it was me being prepared for the woman I would meet)
I met my wife online early in 2008 but since I was starting to get involved with another woman I just considered her as a friend. After things fell apart with this other woman I gave up on the whole dating thing for over a yr. I didn't want to go through the effort to meet someone again. All I could think was how many hrs I spent on the computer searching profiles for women who matched what I was looking for and the countless letters I sent to these women trying to develop a relationship so I could meet them and see if there was anything there. I didn't want to do the whole thing again. One of the things I hated about online dating is seeing a few pictures of a woman and then forming an image of her in my mind. Then when I met her she looked nothing like what I thought she did. One time I was sitting across a table from a woman at a restaurant and I was thinking to myself "I recognized her voice but didn't know who this person was sitting across from me" it happened every time.
I modified my list a few times during the 4yrs. Not that I was going to settle for someone who wasn't right for me. But that I needed to be more open minded and more understanding. After being single for 4 yrs I finally met my wife in person. Before we met we talked on the phone, we texted a lot, we chatted on facebook and we sent each other little videos of ourselves. That way I was able to see her as she talked. It was much better meeting in person for the first time because I felt like I already met her. One thing my wife taught me was that there is greatness in every person on this planet. The heroes in life are the ones who can bring this greatness out of others. Her boss gave her the freedom to grow and flourish and she became the best marketer the industry ever saw. She changed how things were done. I realized that I needed to try to see the strength in others and also to let their strength come out. I think if we encouraged people more and trusted them that they would surprise us.
I've thought about it many times since and I'm grateful for the 4 yrs I was divorced. If I would have gotten married earlier I don't think I would have been ready. I was looking for a woman who was right for me. But what I needed to learn was I needed to become the right man for her. I needed that time to become happy with whom I was. I always wanted to be married but I got to the point that I was happy alone. I learned that a person can't look to someone else to make them happy. They need to be happy and then share that happiness with someone else. B. H.