This post has been a long time coming. It is something that happened awhile ago but it took me some time to talk about it. I have received opinions about whether to share or not to share, but let’s face it, you can’t be a blogger that shares your “life” without sharing your life. I launched this blog to inspire women to go for “it”. “It” being whatever you have a desire to do that will add value and joy to your life. I want www.clarkandstone.com and my Instagram to feel like home for mothers and women, alike. This is my haven, my safe place that gives me a life outside of motherhood.
Being a wife was separate from being a mom. It was my title that came first before becoming a mother. Yet, as the years progressed motherhood came first and I said I would never put my kids before my husband. I know this may be a shocker ladies but your husband is supposed to come before your children. It’s the relationship that helped create the kids. This is my opinion!
This is how kids learn to appreciate their parents. Kids need to see us sharing our lives with them and not living for them. If the only time you are spending with your spouse is with your kids, you need to head to the closest therapist and do the work if you want to make it last. Kids can’t thrive in a toxic environment. We are going to to make mistakes with our kids no matter what we do. Where is that damn manual by the way? In the meantime, we owe them a loving home to thrive in and to see their parents in love with each other. If you’re not giving them that it may be time to rethink things.
I know people really want a scandal behind why I chose to walk away from my marriage but we really just grew apart. We have gone the Goop route of Conscious Uncoupling. Here I will share the good, the bad, and the ugly behind why I decided to call it quits.
When Love Just Isn’t Enough
When I met Stephen, I was a free spirit that was ready to settle down. I didn’t really trust men to truly be in a committed relationship. My previous boyfriend cheated on me but I also held on really tight to my heart and I didn’t let him in. I didn’t really tell men I loved them because I didn’t trust them with my heart. Stephen made me feel safe with him. I felt like I was enough, that I didn’t need to impress him and he didn’t try to change me. I didn’t have to change who I was for him to love me and I fell in love with him right away.
In addition to Stephen, I was in relationships with men that had very conservative careers and I always tried to mold myself into the image of who I thought I should be for them. Let’s just say I’ve never really fit into a mold. I’ve always had my own set of drums with the confidence to hold any room I set foot in. I probably have modeling to thank for that.
Ironically so, it was probably his ability to “see” me that also made me feel like I needed to change who I was for him. I know I have a big personality and I oftentimes felt like I needed to dim my light for him to shine. This isn’t anything he ever asked of me but it was more of what I felt was right. I knew a lot of people from modeling, working in restaurants/bars, living in several cities before Chicago, and from life in general. From past relationships, I knew that it could be a lot for a man to handle. I wanted our relationship to be perfect and that thought had a lot to do with our relationship ending. He never tried to change me but I sure as hell tried to change everything about him. Oh, the irony!
We were always very different but similar in the same token. We both had old fashioned values, believed in marriage and God, we both loved to travel, fine dining, and we both have a massive love affair for art. I mean the cherry on top was marrying a man with a fine arts degree in painting.
However, we were very different in regards to our personalities. I was as he would refer to as “too cool for school”. He, a little bit boisterous after cocktails. Me, very private and reserved. Him, an open book so much so I constantly reminded him that my business was nobody’s business. My love language was gifts and quality time. His love language was words of affirmation and service. I’m messy and he’s a workaholic. We were both great gift-givers, yet, we were so different.
He told me right away that he didn’t want kids. He was so honest in his conviction and I convinced myself that even though I have wanted kids since I knew how to play with dolls, I could be OK without having kids. Thank God he changed his mind without any pressure on my part or I wouldn’t have my beautiful little boys. Anyway, we loved and lived our lives for years accepting our differences and it was enough to sustain us until we had kids.
Motherhood Changes You
I have shared in the past that we struggled for two years to have Clark. He was my rock in every sense of the word while trying to get pregnant. However, once I was pregnant, I felt like our relationship was changing. Stephen was great in regards to doing everything that I asked him to do or even took the initiative to get up in the middle of the night to bring Clark to me to breastfeed, getting up with Clark when I had to get up with Stone in the middle of the night. He was great with all of the family stuff and he was a great provider. He didn’t change – I did!
Motherhood took my life away in regard to the fact that I always took care of “us”. I planned our dates, our trips, our family’s Christmas gifts, our lives. I loved doing those things but after having kids I was now aware of all the things I did to sustain many relationships in my life. It wasn’t just my relationship with Stephen. I no longer had the patience to allow people to hurt me many times before I’d had enough.
You see, I’m kind of a one-strike you’re out kinda girl. Match my effort or kick rocks. Sometimes you have to meet people where they are and sometimes you have to leave them there. I no longer wanted to ask for what I wanted – I don’t do that to people. I wanted to be treated the way I treat people. I wanted to be taken care of the way I take care of people.
I’m the person that always offers to help and I ask how. If I have to ask you to do something that I automatically do for you, I can’t deal and I bounce. I don’t like the feeling of relationships having to be forced. Either it flows or you gotta go. We can manage to make mistakes by talking about them but if I’m the one initiating all of the difficult conversations I check out. The effort isn’t being met.
For the first time in my life, I learned that it was OK to be selfish like this. You really have to love yourself and take care of yourself. You have to look to yourself for approval. I only compete with myself. I want to be better tomorrow than I was today.
This shift in our lives in addition to my mother passing away made it really tough for me to learn how to deal with disappointment. I was no longer tolerating the BS that people tried to serve on a silver platter for not giving their best. While Stephen is a nice guy, he made choices that disappointed me and really broke my trust in him and in our ability to stand the test of time.
And while his choices were never intentional, I got to a place where it was much easier for me to nurse the pain instead of healing the hurt. I let anger settle in my heart and it eventually eroded the love that I had for him.
The truth is, no woman ever wants to feel taken for granted or unloved. It’s the worst emotion you can allow a woman to feel. Actually, let me speak for myself. It’s the worst emotion that I can feel. I believe I am a good person and an amazing woman and if I choose to let all of my guards down and to show you all of “me” (I.e. being completely exposed and vulnerable), taken for granted is never an option. Life is too short and I refuse to believe this is as good as it gets for me. I mean, I have an amazing shoe collection but I really don’t want to be the old lady that lived in a shoe. Lol.
Don’t Stay For The Kids
The thought of divorce after having kids is a strangling emotion. I felt like I was letting them down and breaking their hearts. I convinced myself I would be like our grandparents – married well over 50 years (his paternal grandparents were married for 74 years). But, what I realized was we didn’t have what his paternal grandparents and my maternal grandparents had. My grandparents passed away 6 months apart from each other because they were so in love with each other. Even though my grandparents fought, I saw how much my grandfather loved my grandmother. Stephen’s grandmother still called his grandfather honey. We graduated from babe and baby to formal Stephen and Ceta. Our love for each other had definitely changed.
I realized Clark and Stone would not benefit from us staying together. I have two young boys that I am raising to be exceptional men (they don’t have a say in that) and the last thing I want for them is to think this is what marriage is supposed to look like. It was an internal struggle of do I choose Clark and Stone or myself? It was my way of saying should I stay or should I go.
I told myself, he’s a great provider, a nice person, and he doesn’t cheat on me. As if that is enough to sustain a marriage. Those are the non-negotiables. I couldn’t convince myself to stay for the things that he’s supposed to do. Yes, I married under the intentions that it would be till death do us part, but the love I felt towards the end was that of a friend. I no longer smiled and laughed at our differences. Our differences became frustrating and annoying and that’s why I decided to leave.
I remember the night I asked for a divorce. I told him I was choosing myself. But the reality is I still chose my sons. I chose to give them two parents that can love each other as friends and treat each other better as exes than we had the last two years of our marriage. Our relationship now allows us to be the best parents for Clark and Stone. We still do things as a family. Yes, occasionally his personality still drives me nuts but it’s temporary. And I’m sure I still drive him nuts with my personality but it’s temporary.
We still have rough patches with this transition, but the parents that we are for Clark and Stone are so much better. We have made conscious efforts to make sure our boys see us as friends. Sure, there have been a few times where I may give my cell phone a middle finger but what Clark and Stone see is their mother and father being able to have family lunch and dinner together so they know our family remains the same. We are in a good place.
I still very much believe in the institution of marriage. In fact, I want to re-marry (no time soon) but it’s what I want for myself. I love being spoken for and vice versa. But I’m working on myself and having fun with my friends and my sons. Life is so short! I have learned that the hard way in so many ways this year and being unhappily married just isn’t an option for me.
The thing is, no one wakes up one day and decides to get a divorce. The thought of divorce goes through your head for a while. Then, you eventually say your thought out loud to someone and it becomes real. You may threaten it to your spouse a few times in a fight but once it becomes a real emotion, they know and you know when it’s not a threat.
I’m not here to advocate divorce or to say it’s easy because it’s not. I was a stay-at-home mom/wife for 11 years. Financially, it took huge you-know-whats to walk away from my cushy lifestyle, nice house, car, etc. Aside from that, no one wants to get a divorce. It sucks! The thought of having to start all over with wondering if he is the “one” sounds exhausting. Sure, I’ve had men interested in me but are they interesting enough for me to reciprocate? Texting, dating apps, and who knows what else is involved with dating and it all sounds awful. I just want to travel and plan trips with my girlfriends and my boys.
My new life is well on its way. Every day is filled with a decision to make myself happy. I choose myself first and Clark and Stone second. I know now that happiness is an inside job and while life looks different for me for the most part, I am happy. As for Stephen, I just choose to believe that on October 22, 2006, I married the right person for who I was that day. People change! I am a different woman today than I was when we met. The hope with every couple is that you grow, but the reality is it might not be together and in the same direction.