Monday, July 25, 2016

What Happened? Ode to my marriage

 How does a young couple in love go through 11 years and then divorce? Everything looked promising.  Committed, family oriented, religious, how could this happen?

Instead of being angry, resentful and divisive, I choose to focus on the amazing fact that in a chaotic world, two people tried to love and share their lives. That is an accomplishment, not a failure.

We were not just two people. We are different races, different cultures (southeastern white, and west coast Hispanic), different ideologies (I am a hippy love artist type, he is disciplined and military), different personality types (free flowing and determined and structured), raised in different family examples (mine are divorced, his married), our family and friends are on opposite sides of the country. We had a lot going against us.

Throw in 2 deployments, multiples moves and 6 kids and the stress won out.  I was always faithful. I waited, loved, served, compromised.  He provided, was there for every birth, and  tried to understand. Ultimately, we had very different needs and goals.

In marriage, it does take much more than love and appreciation of the other. We are just human. We are limited.

Being involved in the military world changed me forever in ways I could have never have imagined.

Living the Catholic faith and leaving it behind transformed me and I will never be the same.

We did try. We compromised.  There are many wonderful things that we experienced, and many many trials. 

 We were in love.

 That will not change. We don't have to deny that in order to move on.  Ultimately, he wants the military and California. I don't. I have given more than I can get back ever.  We cannot force people to change or be what they are not.

 We love our children. We can continue to love them and work together to be great parents.
 But, I wont be a martyr. My mother died a martyr, living for others her whole life. I don't believe anyone she died for loved or appreciated her devotion or cared. I realize now, she should have loved herself a bit more.

In the past 11 years, my body has gone through 8 pregnancies, 6 births, nursing and exhaustion.  My daughters' special needs depleted my time, thoughts, and energy. My ex-husbands' work left me alone much of the time to figure it out alone.  I went on 4 types of antidepressants over the years.  I got an alcohol problem after my mothers death.  We had finally gotten stable, had the perfect home and then it was all ripped away from me again.  I had home schooled my kids to be at 6th grade level at 8 years old and then watched as I had to put them back in public school and see all my hard work dissipate,  This isn't the end of the world, but my dreams were consistently compromised.

 I have had to let go.  I cannot fight any longer. I will live my life in a way where when I am old and dying I don't wonder what could have happened if I stood up for myself and needs.
I have also been in therapy for 10 years, almost consistently, trying to make this work. 

 My point is, I know what I gave. I know that we tried.  I cannot look at my divorce as a failure. Look at these kids!  They are beautiful.
 We've had ducks, tree houses, dogs.  We've gone camping, to amusement parks, birthday parties, beaches, mountains.  That is an achievement.  We lived in 4 states and traveled across country multiple times.  Do not tell me we failed.  We lived.

We will continue to live.
 Pictures are great, but what you can't see is the struggle. The difficulty. If my ex is honest, he will tell you behind all of these smiles, there was real difficulty.

So.....  now....  we figure out a new chapter of cooperation, I hope. 

Since our divorce was finalized we have gone to dinner, taken our kids hiking and to the aquarium.  Why do we have to be angry with each other? Why should we fight? We should be grateful that another person chose to share their lives, energy, offspring and money, home etc. with us.

I am saying....  here's to trying.... giving and love....
Here's to new beginnings and acceptance. 
Here's to marriage and divorce and friendship that remains! 


Anonymous said...

How did end and why?

Anonymous said...
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ajl said...

This isn't meant to be an exhaustive explanation of my marriage, but saying the good things and what I want to hold onto.

We had separated about 10 months ago and then got back together when my ex had a job transfer.It was a trial period and we both knew at the time that it may not last long. There were still many struggles and I felt disrespected often. We lived in separate bedrooms for about 4 months and I decided to move out a few months ago.

We filed for divorce and it was granted quickly.

Anonymous said...

Really that is what happened. Where are the children now?

fRED said...

Tragic. Sad. I am devastated that another marriage has failed and the secularists have destroyed another family. Ironically, heterosexual marriage is declining while irregular couplings are increasing.

Given the lessons you have learned, as well as your hopes for the future, I wonder if you would share your insights.

Was this marriage doomed from the start? If so, is the RCC responsible for not providing more guidance or cautions?

What effect was having 6 children on your marriage? If 6 children were too much, what kind of spacing might have sustained the marriage?

Was Natural Family Planning a reasonable method of birth control? Would it have worked better if you had started charting well before marriage (e.g., teenage years)?

If you could start over, would you use artificial birth control?

Your husband's military career apparently was a significant factor in the failure of your marriage. What kind of assistance was provided or available from the military to try to salvage or sustain your marriage? Was there any kind of RC military chaplain available to assist?

What kinds of action are you planning to minimize the potential damage to your children as a result of their reaction to your divorce?

If your withdrawal from Christianity was a factor in the breakup, how do you plan to deal with the differences with your husband's Christianity in raising your children going forward?

Since your husband has to travel and be away from home so much, why wasn't it possible to remain married but each do your own thing (ala Robert Fripp and Toyah Wilcox) and come together periodically? Financially, this can't be much different from being legally divorced. Was this possibility even considered?

There is much to ponder.

Fernando said...

I conceded in staying in one place for the kids, Ashley and reunification. We also considered the last scenario too.

Thank you Fred for caring so much. I am doing my best to become a family again.


Fernando said...

This is Fernando, Ashley's husband, and soon to be Ashley's ex-husband. I am answering your question on my faith journey that you asked on 21 May 2016.

"I would be curious to see what kind of story your husband would tell about his faith journey. I wonder what impact 15 months in a war zone has on someone separated from their family."
I was born and raised Catholic. I did not truly see any difference between Catholicism vs. anything else unit the 6th grade. I was at a local Catholic private school and one day I realized that God was real. He was answering prayers left in right whether it was putting me into a good school or helping me cope with in fighting among my parents. I grew up very poor and basically a second class citizen here in the US which would affect how I saw my life as well.
I think I had one of the best times in life in high school. I went to Christian Brothers High School in Sacramento and enjoyed every moment of it. It was unique in that it was very diverse and we went to school immersed in catholic teachings although it was not readily apparent to me then. I learned to love God so much at this point. I saw that the church could pull me out of poverty and that the Church was bigger than I initially expected. However, my devotion to Mary and God was very high and I would pray often.

I went to UCLA and got a political science degree, and focused on middle eastern religions, in hopes of restoring or helping society become a better one. I saw many faiths protest against each other and some that came to mind were the UCLA Jewish Student Association rally against the Muslim student association and vice versa. I was intrigued to understand
why each one though of each other as THEE religion. I even studied Arabic and was in classes with Jewish and Muslim students trying to integrate in their culture while upholding my Catholicism.

However, I got off track for several years with another student and we courted for over 7 years. What was interesting about those years is that I basically reduced my footprint at the church, i.e. I stopped practicing my faith although I called myself a Catholic, I didnt rarely went to church. In the end my relationship was my demise because I was no longer myself and sacrificed way too much for someone else.

I came back to the church and also got involved in IVCF, which was a hardcore non-denominational Christian group to regroup myself. I eventually became a Charismatic Catholic and went on to enlist in the Navy Reserve which led to me become an Army officer Full Time in 2003.

In 2004, I was in Iraq the first time, and I would pray often because I thought this time frame of the war was a lot like Vietnam. We had no clear mission and the enemy was changing almost week to week. I went to church as best as I could at the local Catholic service on the Camp. I remember having a great time every single time I was there. I prayed at that time that all I wanted in life was a wife and for this war to end. No real soldier is looking to fight wars for fun, only to see them end and return home.

Well, my miracle occurred with Ashley, and we soon got married and you know that part here. What I think she could have explained better was that we both were strong Catholic's and I was really devoted to prayer and often said the Rosary and loved Mary. She was enamored at how much I did love her and she did help me understand the reasonings of the fatih. We discussed the range of knowledge of God may not be enough to know God, and that it does come down to faith at some point. I tried to explain to my children how our former Dog loved us but did not have the capacity to know more about the full us. We may not have the full capacity to know God, but we know we love God, but we still don't have the ability to reason at that level yet. Similarly, our Dog loves us but lacks the capacity to know more but trusts us to help him.

Fernando said...

Anyway, when I was stopped loss, it was a horrible was to go back, I left Ashley pregnant and with our first, Isaac. I did not doubt my faith, but I was praying constantly and asking God what was the reason behind all of this. I think this test of faith allowed me to see the war again in a different light. We had gone from proctecting land and buildings to our new mission of protecting its people outright. We were more culturally adept to being more focused on tolerance of the muslim religion as well. Some of the best faith talks I had were Catholicism vs. Muslim faiths with the local Iraqi Army leaders in Arabic and English to try to understand how much knowledge we both had about God and our respective religions.

When I came back, I grew more fond of the military people and loved the soldiers I worked with becuase we experienced a lot that many generations would never experience and walked in a few select shoes that no one else understood. Also, the Surge, taught me some hope at the time.

Ashley and I had our differences on how we saw the time, but I my faith grew to new levels of what it was to understand to be Catholic. I felt more strengthened because of this if nothing else. I was stopped loss to help the local people directly with my Arabic language skills and to be placed in strategic assignments that allowed me to affect what was happening there. I felt purpose out of initial chaos that was out of my control, but when I looked back at the whole reason I was stopped loss, which seemed like a simple crap shoot. I took it as God creating something good out of something very bad. Ashley had to learn to cope with her life back home. She missed me so much, but stayed loyal and became super healthy. She went to church and grew in understanding how the world operated from a close perspective of the Army.

I think when I came back, I had my doubts of leaving the Army. I enjoyed the people in it and still loved God and my faith, and probably even more. However, Ashley saw it different which would eventually which would be the firs ripple in our relationship.

Fernando said...

After I got back, I was struggling in staying in even part time and tried to do the civilian world. Ashley and I stayed strong Catholics. However, in 2012, I believe this is when Ashley first had her doubts on her faith. She was fervently Catholic then all the way to the decision made by her local Catholic spiritual guides that she could not enter a religious communal life with Communiti Cenecalo. This was her test of her faith which ultimately she could not reason. AS I recall it, she went into a logic spin. Here she is a devoted Catholic woman with significant abilities that she can offer to the organization and husband as well, but we could not go in because of Zelie, our daughter. She as it was blessing but also somewhat of problem from us getting into the program. Ashley could not reconcile that Zelie, our special needs daughter, and in many ways our test of our faith, was the reason why we could not get into her long life spiritual dream of getting into the program. It almost seemed that these two facts and "tests of faith" led to Ashley's demise of the Catholic Church as having all the answers. She in the end could not reconcile these facts, which were thrust upon her and me. In psychology, two opposing competing facts and philosophies cannot stay in the same areas, which otherwise leads to a cognitive dissonance. If one cannot reconcile the differences and see how they relate, then one actually gets headaches but also has to choose a side. Reconciling is more amending the two and accepting them as one, but I think Ashley could not which was the smallest microcosm of her reality which as you know would grow into another form of Ashley's philosophy which I believe is Atheism. Reducing dissonance helps people stay consistent in thought, but only if the person allows it to go one way. I believe that Ashley could not accept that her dream was not real, and built her new attitude around those facts. I.e. She chose not to to reduce her inconsistent thought, the church is right about these matters and God has a plan for Zelie that ultimately is good to something different and built around that platform. I know from experience that not all facts and problems can seem relevant in support of our lives, but they do happen. If we stick around long enough, we do find out its ultimate relevance. Just ask Gold and all of our chemical compounds how long it took to get here so we organisms can even think about becoming who we are.
Anyway, both of faiths were either validated or invalidated by this small decision and the birth of our daughter. I accepted and reduced my cognitive dissonance by saying that her life matters and that her life will give happiness to others and make them appreciate theirs more. I think Ashley had a different take which she writes on here. However, she could not reduce her cognitive dissonance on accepting the church decision as being the right one. If you cannot accept it, something has to go. As it turns out in this case, its the church. Eventually, it will be me and the children as well. That is another story.

These tests of faith are serious and can be lethal ethically and morally. A test implies that failure can occur. If you past the test, then you feel empowered, if you don't you feel unvalidated in whatever the test sought out to do. You can either take it again or accept a new reality. I think Ashley accepted a new reality from this point forward which would eventually impact her, our marriage, and our kids.

Fernando said...

Long story short, I stayed true to me, but I did compromise with Ashley on Catholicism to stay with her and tried to make our lives work with the Army. However, Ashley could not accept Catholicism as her paradigm. Also, she married me conditionally, I will marry you if you leave the military, which would prove to be another element that was not reconciled. Ultimately, Ashley and I would grow apart and pull away at the seems and she accepted a new way of life at the cost of her marriage. but that is another story under a different topic. Marriage on the Rocks.

Anonymous said...

oh man this breaks my heart. I'm a trad catholic dad of many in the process of losing his faith and Ashley's story resonates, but fernando's comments are thoughtful and mature. my thoughts are with you guys. whatever you do. Catholicism or not. put the kids first.a broken family is the beyond damaging (take it from a child of two divorces)

ajl said...

I am glad you found me. As you can see, Fernando has his own perspective of what happened throughout our marriage. He speaks of cognitive dissonance with faith. But I also have had consistent cognitive dissonance with him. You see, he does not accept my perspective and throughout our marriage has challenged my needs. I first gave up my faith in 2012. I gave up my marriage in 2016. It's amazing how once a person releases the need for others (god, authorities) approval, and can find peace within, that they no longer need others to agree with their perspective. My story is here to share with others who may have been caught up with the orthodox catholic cult. You can see, even here, on my personal blog, Fernando challenges and tries to reduce my own experience and perspective. At some point, we must stop controlling others lives.

It is true that not being accepted to Comunita Cenacolo was what ultimately destroyed my faith, but it was the last straw. I was holding onto maybe a hope that it would all come together in that community. I was strung out and on the edge of faith. There were myriads of issues that led me there, which I explain in this blog.

Honestly, I know faith is so powerful, but being separate from it this long now, I see it is just psychological manipulation.

Ana Jackie said...
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