When I met my husband, Aaron, I was kind of lost. It was 1995—the height of the grunge era—and I was a hard-partying goth girl living an alternative lifestyle in Seattle.
At the time, I was seeing someone who was kind of a loser—and on top of that, he was cheating on me. Frankly, I just didn’t know what I was looking for. It turned out, the answer was Aaron.
A friend of mine invited him to my 20th birthday in January 1995. As soon as I saw Aaron, I knew he was different from any other man I’d known. He was in the military and from the Midwest, so he was pretty reserved. He was the straightlaced to my edgy. In spite of our differences, we hit it off right away. He’d later tell me that he knew I was going to be his wife as soon as he saw me.
Dating Aaron, I felt like, for the first time, I didn’t have to hide any aspect of my personality or worry that I was going to scare him off. I knew Aaron would love and accept all of me. My mother had always said she would know the man I was going to marry. When she met Aaron, she told him, “You need to marry her before she runs away.”
He proposed a month into the relationship. Back then, we used to play a game with our friends where we would pass around paper placemats and write stories by having each person jot down a line. One day, we were playing it at a 24-hour trucker restaurant, and Aaron wrote, “Will you marry me?” Of course, I said yes. I kept the note for many years before throwing it out in a fit of anger after we got divorced. I wish I had it now.
We were married on April 22, 1995, just over three months after we first met. Our ceremony was at my parents’ farmhouse just a few hours outside of Seattle. My dad had cleaned up their porch and decorated it with flowers everywhere. It was simply beautiful.
We started trying for a baby right away, but I had some fertility issues due to what I later found out was endometriosis. Three years later, we had our daughter, Moira, and that’s when the trouble began.
I really enjoyed being a homemaker and a mother. One of the main focuses of my current blog, Making It Home, is that modern women shouldn’t look down upon homemaking as “regressive.” It is a choice, one that I’m now proud of.
But at the time, I felt guilty about not working, because I was told growing up that I needed to have a career. And, outside of Aaron, everyone—even my own parents—told me I couldn’t “just” be a homemaker, even though deep down it was what I really wanted.
I felt like I couldn’t be the person I wanted to be, and I unfairly began projecting that onto Aaron. I started rebelling by going back to my old ways of partying and staying out all night.
It didn’t help matters that after Moria was born, my libido decreased. Aaron didn’t feel like I was attracted to him anymore. As we started to drift, he got into computers and video games. We were both escaping into these fantasy worlds, which only made us grow further and further apart.
By 2000, I felt like I was in a marriage by myself, so I asked for a divorce. It was very painful for Aaron and it wasn’t easy on me either. But I convinced him it was the best decision for our daughter.
After the divorce, our relationship was very strained. But we were still in each other’s lives because of Moira. And once you have the emotional connection we once shared, it’s hard to truly sever it.
Eventually, Aaron decided that he was going to move out of Washington, closer to his mom in Louisiana. I started seeing someone else, but even my boyfriend at the time knew my heart was with Aaron. At one point, he asked, “Why are you with me? You’re obviously still in love with your husband. You need to fix that.”
The truth was, I did still love Aaron, because he was a good man and an amazing father. So I took Moira and headed to Louisiana and told Aaron I wanted to try and work things out. He was apprehensive about it, but he wanted to have a relationship with his daughter and for us to live together, so he agreed.
Eventually, we settled back in Washington. In 2005, we remarried on the premise that it was what was best for our daughter. But we were still suck in the same vicious cycle. I would go out and party and neglect Aaron and his needs, and he would disappear into computer games.
Finally, two years ago, he came to me and said he was done. Our daughter was an adult at this point, and we really didn’t feel like we had anything in common anymore. “I love you,” he told me, “But I’m not the man I want to be.”
Aaron was a quiet person. He never said much about what he was unhappy about, so what he proceeded to tell me truly shocked me. He revealed that he felt like he had suppressed his Christianity throughout our entire marriage because I had been a pagan since I was 16. (I was raised Mormon, but I had turned away from faith during my rebellious teenage years.)
I had always known that Aaron was Christian, but I didn’t know our differing beliefs had been taking such a toll.
That night, he slept on the couch, and I didn’t leave our bedroom for 24 hours. I didn’t eat. I didn’t sleep. And then, I did something I had never done: I got down on my knees and I prayed for my husband. “All I want is for him to be happy and to really feel like he’s loved,” I said, to whom I was unsure.
The next day, Aaron came into the bedroom and said, “Why are you still with me?” I responded, “Because I love you, you idiot.”
From then on, everything completely changed. Aaron and I began to have a lot of conversations about what Christianity meant to him, and, in my own time, I started to explore my own spirituality.
One day, a friend of mine invited me to a local church. I had never been particularly fond of churches or any type of organized religion, but this one seemed different. As I stood in the ceremony, I felt the presence of God, and I started to cry.
I convinced Aaron—who was raised Baptist—to come back to the church with me. During the ceremony, he turned to me and said, “We found home.”
I got baptized a few months later—just for myself. I told Aaron that I felt like a part of me that I had always suppressed was finally free. “I’ve been waiting 22 years for you to say that,” he responded.
Today, we don’t always go to church on Sundays, but if we don’t, we spend the day reading the bible or just being together. It’s a day that’s dedicated to us and to our family, when nothing else can get in the way.
Looking back, I realize I had been living my life based on what other people expected of me. When I became Christian, I realized no one else’s opinion mattered and that I should be living for God, myself, and my husband.
I gave myself over to Christ. And it made my marriage stronger because so much of Christianity is focused on looking outside yourself. We follow a much more biblical approach to marriage now. We talk about our strengths and our weaknesses. He’s taken on a more traditional male role and I’ve adopted a more traditional female one. We complement one another now, instead of working against each other.
We’ve finally come together as a team. We have the same goals. We’re aligned with our beliefs and what we want to achieve in life. And for the first time in our married life, I feel like we are who we were meant to be.
And for more real-life marriage tales, check out I Married a Younger Woman. Here’s Why I Regret It.
This essay has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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