I’m sitting on our therapist’s couch with my wife, Bonnie. Only 2 feet separate us but it feels like 50, with a chasm in between and no bridge to bring us together. With tears streaming down her face she’s yelling at me, “GOOD GOD MAN! JUST GET HAPPY! FIND WHAT YOU WANT IN LIFE AND BE HAPPY! I CAN’T LIVE LIKE THIS!!!”
I was able to admire the courage it took for her to be that vulnerable to me and express her real feelings but goddamnit, it fucking pissed me off, as those words raced across the divide between us and echoed in my head.
My/Our world had been turned upside down the previous 18 months and I had every right to be unhappy, angry or self-loathing. I discovered the religion I built my life around was false. I lost my identity and had to rebuild from scratch, or so it felt. Bonnie also left the Mormon church and went into a severe depression/bipolar episode for a year, while she went through that heart wrenching phase of losing her former self. Imagine the state of our family, while we both went through that grieving process.
I reached what I believed was the pinnacle of my career and was a business owner, only to have it ripped away from me because…. well… I’m not ready to tell that story yet.
I made the best of a bad situation, negotiated a buy-out that wasn’t market value but it enabled me to take care of the 6 people that left the company with me and we found a new home. I’m not capable of describing the anger, resentment or retribution I felt during that time or even now, as I’m still processing what happened and why.
Bonnie was right, I was unhappy. Extremely. That therapy session would be a tipping point in our marriage. Thankfully.
The large majority of people who leave The Mormon Church go through this process of questioning every major life decision they make. You feel like The Church robbed you of choice. (Ironic, since agency is a core tenet of the religion) Did I do “that” because I was Mormon or because it was a good choice? Would I make that same decision again, now that I’m not Mormon?
Would I have gone to college, if I didn’t go on a Mormon mission immediately after high school? Would I have a different career? Would I enjoy that career more than this one? Would I feel more fulfilled?
I married the first woman I had a real relationship with, a year after returning from my mission. Would I have done that, if I wasn’t Mormon? Would I have dated other women? I’ve only had sex with my wife. Would I have had sex with other women? What would that be like? Did I marry the right person? Would I have gotten married at all? Would my life be different? What would that be like? Would I be happier? What do I do now………….
Those were my questions. Each person has their own. I wrestled with them for 18 months. A tumultuous emotional miserable 18 months. Truth be told, I still struggle with a few but the questions surrounding my marriage were answered shortly after my wife admonished me in our therapy session a few months back.
We were married on December 15, 2000, in The Houston Mormon Temple. I discuss our wedding and the impact of my Mormon parents not being allowed to see me get married, along with none of my friends because they were not Mormon, here in my post A Pay To Play Wedding. In that post, I describe the experience of telling Bonnie I want to have a Real Wedding, one where everyone can see us take our vows and we can all celebrate together. We’ve discussed doing this on our 15th Anniversary in December 2015 but before we could commit to it, we had to commit or recommit to each other.
Bonnie and I are very different people, when compared to who we were over 13 years ago, when we fell in love and got married. We’ve been through major life altering events and circumstances, beyond the normal transformation that occurs throughout a marriage/life. We’ve dealt with mental illness. We’ve abandoned our religion and have both landed in different belief paths. We’ve changed. I’ve changed.
Bonnie’s words, “BE HAPPY,” rang in my ears for weeks after that. It was time to make a decision on the direction I wanted my life to take.
My struggle was “Do I want this married life or would I be happier as a single man?” That might sound selfish to some people but it was a heavy decision and mine to make. People will say, “Think about the kids.” It wasn’t about them. It was about me. Plus, I’m not as opposed to divorce as I once was. I know many single parents who are successful with joint parenting in 50/50 custody but again, I had to find My Happiness. Also, my parents were married for 30 years and then got a divorce and they are both much happier now that they are apart and with new companions. I don’t believe me or my siblings were “better off” because my parents stayed together for us, though I do recognize their sacrifice and love for us, to make such a decision. Do I want to wait till I am in my 50’s before I find my happiness? No. I believe I only have this life to live, so I’d better make it the best it can be, before I’m introduced to the earth.
I began to analyze what I’m doing when I’m the most happy. Where am I? Who am I with? When something good happens, who do I want to call or be with to celebrate? How do I feel when I am out of town, without my family? How do I feel when my family is out of town and I’m home alone? How do I feel when Bonnie is out of town and it’s just me and the kids? Who do I think about the most? Who do I want? What do I want?
Bonnie was in the answer to every question asked. While I will admit, I enjoy having a break from “the family,” I also have to admit to myself that during those breaks, I’m constantly thinking about my wife and kids. Constantly. I talk about Bonnie when I’m at a sports bar with strangers watching a game. I talk about Bonnie when I’m with customers on a business trip. I talk about Bonnie when I’m out with my friends. I talk about Bonnie. I think about Bonnie. I fucking love Bonnie. I. Choose. Bonnie.
I choose her determination. I choose her beauty. I choose her compassion. I choose her bipolar disorder. I choose her brutal honesty. I choose her intellect. I choose her smile. I choose her laugh. I choose her tears. I choose her fears. I choose her anxiety. I choose her soft skin. I choose to only make love with her. I choose her….. ALL OF HER. (Thank you John Legend)
When I made that realization and choice, my heart burst. I felt twitterpated again. I was ready to renew my vows to my wife. I was ready to commit to the Bonnie here and now and not just the person I loved 13 years ago. I called The Heights Villa and scheduled a tour. We booked it. We are Renewing Our Vows on December 12, 2015.
Originally, we wanted to renew our vows to overcome our suffocating religious experience but it’s much more than that now. At age 35, after 13 years of marriage and seeing that person and myself change in almost every way possible…. We are choosing each other. We have decided that getting married in December 2000 was a great decision and one worth making again. Actually, it’s a much better decision now because we are so much more mature and informed. I love you Bonnie and can’t wait to commit myself to you again; in front of our children, family and friends.