"Guess who's getting divorced?" I asked my husband Rich, sadly. He thought for a moment and then named one of my friends. I was stunned. "How did you know?" I was completely floored that he would've guessed this particular couple. He was silent for a moment and then said quietly, "I was kidding."
Of the eight weddings Rich and I have been to over the past 13 years, five of them have ended in divorce. My marriage could have been one of them.
In 2003, Rich announced he didn't want to be married anymore and he was leaving. It came out of nowhere to me, and I was absolutely stunned. Sure we had problems, who didn't? I thought couples just worked them out. I was willing to try counseling again but Rich didn't want to.
One month later we moved out of the house we were renting. Lillianna and I moved into an apartment and Rich moved in with his friend down the street from us. It was one of the worst times in my life. I thought we'd be together forever. Apparently forever was only going to be nine years.
After six months, Rich said he was willing to try counseling again. Luckily, our new therapist was wonderful and he helped to save our marriage. It hasn't been an easy road, but we both know that we love each other and we want to make our marriage better than it's ever been.
I jokingly blame my parents for making me think marriage was easy. Growing up, our house was filled with music, laughter and love. I would often find Dad sneaking up on Mom to give her a hug while she was cooking. They were frequently snuggled up on the couch or in bed watching TV. They didn't fight. Mom occasionally rolled her eyes at Dad when he did something she disapproved of, but what wife hasn't done that?
I know their life was not perfect, but they made it look effortless. Maybe that's why I didn't think my marriage would be as much work as it has been.
There were times, especially during our separation, when I felt guilty about the effect this was having on Lillianna. She was only five years old at that time and it was so difficult for her. Now, at 9 years old, she can see the daily struggles that Rich and I are going through but I think it's healthy for her.
I think Lillianna is learning that marriage isn't all about the wedding cake and the presents. It's losing a job and trying to pay the bills, caring for a sick spouse, encouraging each other when one wants to try a new career, raising a child together and loving one another in good times and bad.
I am so glad that Rich and I are still together, but I am very sad for our friends who are struggling with divorce or the aftermath of divorce. I can see how difficult it is for them and for their children.
Some of these divorces were mutual, but some were not and that makes it even more difficult for the spouse who didn't want to end the marriage. For those friends, I pray that their hearts will heal quickly and that they will be able to move on.
Robin P. lives with her husband and daughter in a suburb south of Boston.