Allow me to introduce myself. I am a wife and mother. We have six children, and they are joy embodied. I always wanted a big family, and though my pregnancies haven’t all been a walk in the park, we have indeed been given that blessing. We are thankful! This blessing comes complete with sticky jelly in my keyboard and days spent nursing and nursing and changing and nursing and wiping up spit-up and working on a laundry pile that never ends. I wouldn’t change it for anything.
You don’t know me, but I have been reading your blog for a year or two. I discovered it one day as I was reading a friend’s blog. I saw on her sidebar a short little list called “Praying For” with a few blogs listed. Among them was Nie Nie’s (which I was already reading) and yours. I clicked over to your blog, and one of the first posts I read was one expressing anger over people who have not lost a child and do not understand. The feelings there were so genuine and sincere, so real. I am very much drawn in by people who are simply real, and so I started reading your blog. I enjoyed the whole thing. I felt for you and hoped that my comments would help you out at least a bit when you were feeling down, and I felt your joy through your words when things were going well, and I was happy for you. I’m thankful to be a tiny part of your blog, even if pretty much all I’ve done so far is read. I thank you for it all.
I grew up in a small town in Arizona. I had a big family, and I loved it. I played the flute and danced. I learned from my dad that if I want to do anything, I can probably figure it out, so I have lots of hobbies. I really enjoy a good challenge, and one of my favorite things is to come up with something I can make out of things I already have that will function better than something I could buy. I love to sew and bake. I can crochet and cross-stitch and have been trying to learn to knit and embroider, though I can’t say that I’ve been altogether successful there!
I married a wonderful man, the love of my life, in May 1999. We were so in love and so happy. I still feel so blessed to have him. I met him my first day of college as I was moving into the dorm. He was a security guard there. As our relationship developed I could hardly believe how lucky I was. He was more wonderful than anyone I could have imagined. I waited for him while he went on his mission. There was not much question about that. Of course I would wait! And I’m glad I did.
I always wanted to be a mother. I dreamed of it my whole life. My husband and I were ready to have babies right away, and I think I was especially excited about it. However, 4 months after we were married I miscarried. We were devastated. We’d been planning and wishing and hoping for a baby, and we had a name picked out for a little girl.
In March 2000 we found out that we were expecting. We were so excited! We learned that we were having a boy. This pregnancy was challenging, but things were fine in the end. We had 2 more sons over the next 3 years and 3 months, and my husband finished his degree about 8 months before the birth or our fourth son in January 2006. That pregnancy was scary. I had placenta previa and placenta accreta. During the last month and a half of the pregnancy I had to go live with family far away from my husband and 3 little boys in order to be near a better hospital. That was a particularly challenging time in our lives, and it weighed heavily on my poor husband. In the end we all survived the delivery. All was well in that department and the baby and I both came home healthy and fine. But out of that situation grew the hardest thing I have ever dealt with.
While I was living away my husband was living with fear and doing his best to take care of our three sons. He’d leave them with his mom during the day and pick them up after work. He had all the duties of a single parent along with a crushing fear of losing me. He was afraid to tell me about any of that, and so he didn’t. I’m often an overly-sensitive person. He was worried about worrying me, so like so many times before he just didn’t discuss it with me. He had a coworker, though, who he found that he could talk to about anything. She was a lonely single mom who needed a friend. She helped with the dishes and cleaning and listened to him. I was still gone on New Year’s Eve when she and her son came to our house and had a little party with my husband and sons. I was so very hurt when I found out about it. My husband was apologetic when he found out that I was hurt. But that was just the beginning.
I hoped that when I came home this other woman would just disappear, but she didn’t. Over the next few months I clung to my new son and my other children and felt rejected as my husband spent a lot of time on the phone with this woman. He’s a loving and kind person, and he loves to call the people he cares about and just talk. But in the meantime, I was putting the boys to bed by myself every night and crying as I nursed the baby. Sometimes I would try to talk to him about it, but he couldn’t understand why it hurt, and he certainly didn’t stop. He is a man. He has his little compartments and didn’t see how his spending time with her took anything away from me. He felt I was trying to take away a friend. Soon he was spending more time with her. She needed help with her computer or her car or her grandma’s furnace. Sometimes he’d just be late from work and I knew where he was. He’d come home and explain that she needed help and that was why he was late. He knew I was hurting and yet he didn’t stop. Part of the reason for it was that he was getting attention from this woman that I wasn’t providing. He’d come home and hold the baby while I finally got to get some cleaning done and make dinner. And his running off to be with the other woman didn’t make me feel like he wanted me around for more than what I was giving anyway. I felt awful. I felt unloved.
Well, time went on, and so did their relationship. I did my best to just hold things together for the children’s sake. My husband insisted that he wasn’t trying to replace me and that he was still committed to our marriage, and I did my best to just trust him because I needed him! 2 years after the birth of our fourth son he finally brought home some horrible news. He told me that he’d (Shall we say “finally” because we all know they were leading up to it?) had inappropriate relations with this woman and, therefore was unable to go to the Temple with me for my brother’s wedding a few days later. I was absolutely crushed. The years that have followed have been really hard. My husband was dis-fellowshipped and has been thus for almost 3 years. He still continues to miss this other woman. I can’t really expect anything less as he spent so much time and effort on that relationship, but he has learned a lot and is trying his darnedest to be faithful to me and be reconciled with the church.
To be honest, when he first told me, I wanted to crawl into a hole and die. The only reason I couldn’t was that I had my children and I didn’t want to miss a moment of their little lives. At first I was a horrible mother anyway. I wanted to cry all day. My husband encouraged me to go to the Temple, though, and I will tell your right now that the Temple and General Conference have been my saving grace. I listened to conference on my way to and from the Temple (and on my way to and from doctor visits as we were now expecting our fifth child). Our baby was born healthy, and though I had some complications afterward everything worked out. This time we had our little girl, and for good reason we gave her the middle name Hope.
Bit by bit I was being healed. Bit by bit as we tried to make things right we were being blessed in ways I couldn’t have imagined. The change happened so slowly that I didn’t notice it happening at first. I continued to go to the Temple every month, praying and crying. There was one time in particular that I sat down in the Celestial Room and just sobbed (not out loud, of course, but I simply could not hold back the tears). But as I continued to go to the Temple time after time I felt prompted to focus outward, to focus not on my pain but on how I could help our marriage and how I could help my husband. At first I didn’t like that prompting. I was very hurt and I felt my husband deserved what he got and probably more. However, I did my best to follow that prompting. As time passed I found myself one day looking back and seeing the amazing healing that had taken place in my heart. At that moment I realized that in focusing on what I could fix, I was also turning my broken heart (the part of my life I could not fix) over to my Savior. I was giving Him the part that I could not do, and doing what I could, trusting Him to do the rest. And He did!
I cannot say that all is perfect right now. My husband has had a hard time working with our stake president and neither he nor I have felt much hope coming out of his office. He is still not reconciled with the church, but he is doing his best. He is working hard to prove himself trustworthy and to show me his love. I cannot say that I am perfectly healed yet. What my husband did still lurks in the back of my mind, a shadow over all my joy at times. We are not a perfect couple and we still have our struggles. However, we have both learned a lot. I have learned to not blame so much because blame doesn’t help. I have learned more about the love of our Savior and my Heavenly Father and am amazed. I have begrudgingly acknowledged my part in the hard times our marriage went through and tried to make things better. At the same time, one of the hardest and best things I’ve had to learn to do is to not blame myself. I definitely needed some help with that one.
Another hard aspect of the whole ordeal has been the secrecy of it all. During the whole thing the only person I ever complained to was my husband, and he was the problem. I didn’t want to deal with any bad that might come of my telling because I’d feel that it was my fault. I didn’t want people looking down on my husband or the other woman. At the same time I wanted to burst and shout the huge secret to the general public so I could have some support. I knew that their relationship was improper, but because it was secret I felt like I was the one who was wrong and that I should just get over it, simply because I couldn’t stop it. I’ve since been in a way glad that I didn’t tell. I hurt for that poor girl I see looking back, but I am glad for the girl I see now who doesn’t have to deal with the whole social stigma it would cause if people knew. I also learned in talking with the stake president that telling my side of the story was not going to heal me. It may feel good to let someone know and to feel like I have someone to lean on. Thank heavens I do have that now! But what really helps is for me to lean on my husband and reach out to help him as well.
And as for forgiveness for my husband and the other woman, it is slowly coming as well. Part of it lies in the fact that I am so thankful for what I’ve learned and I don’t know that I could have learned it any other way. I’m almost (Almost!) thankful that my husband cheated on me because it brought me closer to him and closer to God. I do wish for good for the other woman as well. I hope that she can make things right and have a good life and a loving marriage of her own.
Out of this hardship has very slowly grown a wonderful marriage. My husband and I are both happy, and I think that through what we’ve learned we have become better partners. Our marriage has never been happier. Though there are still things to be resolved, everything is a lot better, and I can finally honestly say that my husband is my best friend. We had another baby last year (another little boy), and he is lovely! I am still amazed every day to see the growth that has taken place in myself, in my husband, and in our marriage, and also the blessings pouring down on us as we just do our best. The love and joy that I feel every day is like opening a lovely gift over and over. I have much to be thankful for, and I look forward very much to the first time I can take my husband back to the Temple with me. That will be absolute heaven. I look forward to seeing him able to do the things that he has missed out on. He was unable to baptize our 2 oldest children, and he was unable to bless our baby girl. I have great hopes that all will be right with the church and that he’ll be able to bless our baby soon and baptize our third son at the end of this year. I look forward to my first blessing with him as voice again. In short, there is much to look forward to, and I do so with faith, love, and gratitude.
P.S. Dang, this came out long! I’m sorry!