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Marriage Boot Camp

Love is also a choice but if we’re honest, many of us aren’t emotionally mature enough to make that choice beyond our own selfishness...

I’ve said this countless times, and I’ll keep saying it. I don’t believe 20 somethings have any business married. In my opinion, that time should be used to explore yourself fully, and not under the restrictions, rules, or boundaries of another person. I would go so far as to say that a hoe-phase is necessary….I mean….if you’re into that kind of thing. Lol

I was never a woman who would sleep around with a bunch of men. I’ve always needed a strong bond. This led me to always being in relationships. If I cycle through relationships, I can’t be a hoe right? HA! The bad part about that is that you never learn to be by yourself. You never learn what happiness is outside of another person. Then you can often forget that your own happiness is solely your responsibility.

Collin and I began dating in 2006 after being platonic friends for a couple of years. We were both dating other people at the time. Ladies, don’t stop dating other people until it is clear that you’re in a committed relationship. Otherwise, that man ain’t committed to you and I’m tired of seeing us in one-sided commitments.

Anyway, we decided to commit towards the end of 2007. I had just graduated college, and he had one year left. I was 22 years old, he was 21 and we locked allllll the way in. A few years later, we got married in 2010. When we got married we were head over hills IN LOVE and there was nobody who could of made us believe at that time, that love wouldn’t be enough. Years later and now I fully understand that I desire respect over love. When you respect someone, there are just certain things that you will not do. On the other hand, love is an emotion that can blow with the wind depending on what’s going on around you.

Love is also a choice but if we’re honest, many of us aren’t emotionally mature enough to make that choice beyond our own selfishness. When we’re upset with someone, we allow that to override the choice to continue to love anyway. For me, and I strongly believe most people, it took a long time to grow to that place. In your 20s, I just don’t see how you could be so equipped. At that time, there is still so much more to learn, develop, experience, unpack, etc. People say “but it’s better to unpack it with someone else.” Wrong! Your mess is yours alone to unpack. Why would you put the burden of unpacking your mess on to someone else in the name of love? To me, that’s more selfish than anything.

Also, to be quit frank, growing up together in a relationship can be painful. Depending on the type of person you are, sometimes you never quite heal from those scars. I can admit that I am definitely a grudge holder. If you did something to me when we were 10, please know that I remember it! LOL So it can be hard for a person like me trying to let go of baggage from things that happened when we were 20 years old. The younger and dumber you were when you got together, I’d bet the more scars you’ve accumulated over the years.

We see seemingly perfect looking couples on IG and say “goals!!” That’s a pet peeve of mine. You don’t know them people! I don’t care if they are your friends, you still don’t REALLY know. Nobody tells it all, not even to their best friends. Keep that in mind. But what you SHOULD know is that every couple who put in the work to actually be goals had to endure some things. Those things are not always infidelity. Sometimes it’s betrayal, huge losses, mental health, addictions, poor prioritizing, not being cared for in the ways you need emotionally and/or physically, and the list goes on. There isn’t a single couple that’s put in 10, 20, 30+ years that doesn’t have a story. Period!

Finding out that my husband had been texting other women was devastating to me, not because of the act itself, but because of the betrayal of it all. I’d always viewed us as best friends that could talk about absolutely anything, even the uncomfortable stuff. If I wasn’t emotionally present at that time (I wasn’t), then I would’ve expected him to let me know exactly how he was feeling. Even after the fact, and he made the decision to stop on his own (words from the woman herself), he still should’ve then come to me and let me know what happened so I could digest and process at that time.

He never stepped out physically, but the impact of the deceit and betrayal all felt the same to me. One of my guy friends even said “well dag, he prob wished he did hit it because you’re treating him like he did.” Lol To me, cheating is cheating, is cheating! Whether physically or not, the impact is the same, so therefore the consequences should be the same, in my book. Either way, the bond was broken. Our entire foundation was friendship, and now that I feel like you actually haven’t been my friend, what do we have?

When everything came to a head, I decided to call a lawyer. I really wanted a divorce and couldn’t see any other option. However, at that time, I didn't have a job and I was 3,000 miles away from my support system. I had nowhere to go to sleep on anyone's couch or to put him out to sleep on someone's couch. I was left to sit there and deal with it. This is why I believe the timing of how it all played out was def God orchestrated. Collin told me “if you found this out while we were home, you def would’ve left me. He is 100% correct. It would've been much easier….and I would’ve had the coin to do so! Lol

I would often tell Collin that I would NEVER forgive him. In my mind, I just couldn’t see it at all. Like I said in the friendship blog, loyalty is HUGE for me. If I expect that level of loyalty out of my friends, you can imagine what I expect out of my husband. Therefore, I checked completely out. He was downstairs and I was upstairs. Communication was for the needs of the children or the business only. I was doing my own thing. I fell in love with God, the gym and myself.

Collin would write me every day. I remember at one point he wrote me for 528 days straight, 528 reasons that he loves me. 5/28 is our anniversary so all of it was completely significant. Those writings were very helpful to me to understand him in a way that I never had before. I believe it was also helpful for him to process for himself. The biggest question I had for him was “WHY?? Why would you purposely hurt me when you KNOW how much I’ve already been through?? You’re just like everyone else and I thought you were different!”

I saved some of the hand-written notes Collin would put in my lunch bag for work. Here is one of my favorites:

“When I got on my knees in tears and pain to repent, God forgave me right away. It’s in his character as our father to do so. Psalm 103 says as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. However, it took me much longer to forgive myself. And when I finally did it was out of need. For you, Camden and Caleigh I had to forgive myself. Because I was putting so much weight on myself that I was going to break. But for you….take your time. Your feelings about me are valid and deserving based on my actions. It will only be through God’s grace that you can forgive me. But there is no rush. You are not God who created me nor are you in need to forgive me to save your life like I was. You have a choice. Jesus will do the heavy lifting but the choice is yours. Take your time. I will wait even until the grave. Even if today you don’t think you will ever forgive. I love you unconditionally.”

Forgiving my husband was a choice that I had to make. In order to make that choice, I evaluated everything. In my marriage, the pros definitely outweighed the cons. But I cannot downplay the impact of betrayal even still. However, whatever you do, you have to make a decision. If you decide to forgive, you cannot treat them like crap forever as a means of punishment. If you know in your heart that you really can’t get pass whatever it is, you have to let it go. It’s not fair to you or the other person. Why do you even want to be in any relationship where you have been hurt so deeply that you can’t forgive? And if that’s the case, why would you attempt to stay?

I believe that when you are the cause of deeply hurting someone that you care about, you should completely humble yourself. Too often we see people completely in the wrong, having an attitude with the other person for being hurt or for even expressing that hurt. Like how sway??? I’ve heard men tell women “just get over it” after they’ve slept with 10 other women. It’s honestly completely flooring. For us, any time I wanted to talk about it, we talked about it. Every question that I asked had to be answered, and expeditiously! Any time I lashed out, even getting physical, he just took the hits. Now let me say, ladies please keep your hands to yourself. I’m not proud of those actions, it’s just my truth. What I will say though is, if anyone makes you want to assault them physically, just leave.

I can’t tell anyone whether to stay or go in a relationship, and especially not a marriage. I never give opinions on that. What I will say though is, YOU know what you can handle or not. What I usually do when people come to me for this type of advice is ask them a bunch of questions that makes them think through it for themselves. How does he respond to you when you voice your concerns? What has he done to make changes since you’ve brought this issue to his attention? List out your pros and cons for this relationship? Are your needs being met in this relationship? Is this the first time this has happened or is this his normal pattern of behavior? What was the state of the relationship at the time of the offense?

People typically know what they need to do about their relationships. It usually boils down to actually having the courage to do it.

Lessons learned:

  1. Do the self-work first. I would’ve worked at becoming whole as an individual before I became somebody’s wife. Two broken people equal a whole mess. And that’s what we were. It took a lot to unpack and discover that. Everything doesn’t need to be rushed.

  2. My husband is not my God. I’d grown so attached and dependent on him. He really is an amazing man including his mistakes. But the mistakes reminded me that he is still just a man….just a human. This brought me closer to God. He is the ONLY one who will never let me down.

  3. Nobody is infallible.. My mother in-law always says “even the good ones put their pants on one leg at a time like the rest of them.” It’s a work in progress every single day, just like with anything else.

  4. Intentionality is key. We have to be intentional in our actions and in loving our mates in the way that they need. We also need to be intentional in the communication of our needs.

  5. Be clear on deal-breakers and then be a person of your word. Don’t make idle threats. Don’t hold things over someone’s head forever. Tell them your boundaries clear and concisely. Tell them the consequences for breaking those boundaries. Ask for theirs as well. Decide if each of your boundaries are compatible. And then actually stick to it!

  6. You can only control you. We do not have ownership over other people, nor will they ALWAYS do exactly what we want them to do. That is ok. They have their own journey. Just be patient and love them through it, so long as you aren’t being hurt or disrespected in the process.

  7. Your happiness is your own responsibility. When you’re searching for it in someone else, that usually means there is something broken within you. Stop covering it with a band aid and deal with you. Otherwise, someone could die to make you happy, and it still won’t work.

I don’t regret what we’ve been through although hindsight is always 20/20. It has made us stronger and given us a transparency in our marriage that is probably too much for most to handle. We don’t keep any secrets at all. People say they want that, until they start hearing things they don’t want to hear. If you can’t handle someone else’ truth and lash out, eventually they will stop telling you. Then there will be secrets and that could lead to a whole rabbit hole. Again, maturity. This is not for the faint of heart.

The best thing that came from all of this mess was individual growth. Our boot camp was not about fixing each other. It was about fixing ourselves, BY OURSELVES. We both grew closer to God in the process. Again, I thought I was getting a divorce so I was never fixing myself for him. In my mind, my new man was going to reap all the benefits! LOL

My process consisted of writing, crying, praying, devout Bible study, working out, silence, doing bucket list items all by myself, becoming comfortable being by myself, listening to music that resonated, holding myself accountable, and dun dun dun…..forgiveness! I had to acknowledge the mistakes I made by not being ready to be a wife. I had to forgive myself for jumping into something that I was not equipped to handle. I had to forgive him for betraying me. I had to take him off of the pedal stool I’d put him on, and recognize that he is a flawed human just like anyone else. Mostly, I had to grow up!

Collin & I recorded a podcast episode on this because I wanted him to be able to tell his side and how he processed from a man’s perspective. It is good! It’ll be part 2 of this one. Can’t wait to share it with you guys. If you are currently in a dark space in your marriage and need help navigating, reach out. This is for somebody. I feel it deep down in my heart. Whoever you are, I’m here to support you and I love you.

From One T.U.F.F Chick to Another,

Michelle L.


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