The Choices We Make

We make choices. Every day. Hundreds of them. Most of the time we don’t think very much about the consequences of those choices. It’s only when those consequences come back to haunt us that we really stop to consider the choices we made.

I’ve made some pretty crappy choices in my life. I really should have been saddled with some pretty harsh consequences for some of those choices, when in reality I got away with simple warnings, or a light slap on the hand. I know how lucky I’ve sometimes been.

There are other choices I didn’t realize I made until long after the fact, choices that are now requiring some serious acceptance on my part.

One of those choices is a pretty major one. In fact, it may be the biggest, most important–certainly it has had the most impact–choice I ever made. I’m talking about, of course, the man with whom I chose to build my family.

Mi.Vida is the first and only man I’ve ever been with. I’ve written before that I feel like that handicaps me, because I have no other relationships against which to judge our own. Mostly I judge our relationship against what I see in romantic movies and Facebook timelines (both the epitome of realistic, I know). I spend a considerable amount of time wondering if I made a big mistake in staying with my man. Of course I love him, but I’ve seen enough friends break up for other reasons to know that love is sometimes not enough. And I wonder a lot if that is the case for us.

This discussion might seem cold and heartless, and in fact it is. It happens entirely in my head, miles away from the tangled emotional mess of my heart. It’s a pragmatic affair, taking place in the rational side of my brain. It doesn’t take any feelings into account, just facts. Sometimes that is enough to assure me it’s a useless train of thought, other days the very same fact convinces me otherwise. The truth is I don’t know, and maybe I’ll never know, if I made a mistake.

One of the things I’ve always been so impressed with in this community is how so many couples seem to come together to face the monster that is IF and loss. So many relationships actually come out stronger than they were before. Like diamonds forged from the tremendous pressure of the earth above, many couples seem to emerge from the dark tunnel of IF shining brilliantly; they are a united force to be reckoned with. They are indestructible.

I see it in the way they speak of, and to, each other. I see it in the enthusiasm with which they parent their children or in the grace with which they manage their childless/free life. I see it in their words and their actions and I am impressed. It seems to me that for a couple to become stronger under such difficult conditions, they must have tackled their problems from a place of respect and understading. They must have stood together, propping each other up, secure in the knowledge that they felt similarly about what they were going through.

Mi.Vida and I have never tackled the monster of TTC struggles or loss from a united front. We’ve never come together, we’ve never stood on the same page. Every decision was reached through painstaking negotiation and neither of us ended up very happy with the final result. Resentment remains. Resentment that people were pushed and pulled to get where we are today. Resentment that one of us can’t be happy with what we have while the other can.

This path we’re walking on is destroying our relationship. It’s not making us stronger, it’s tearing us apart. We want different things, or we don’t want the same things in the same ways. We don’t see any part of this eye to eye. We don’t understand each other and it’s so hard to get through this when that is the case.

I had dreams of what my life would be like; those dreams were tightly entwined in who I was and what was most important to me. The sun around which all my dreams orbited was that of having a family. It was ALL I WANTED in my life. I imagined the man I loved, the man I chose to build a family with, would feel the same way. I assumed we would both want children more than anything else. But then I didn’t find someone for many, many years and when I finally did, I was so afraid that he would be the only one I would ever find, that I looked past the fact that he didn’t want a family and instead of finding someone who did, I tried to make him someone who did. But he will never by that person. He will never want any of this the way I do.

That is what I wonder if I made a huge mistake. Can I ever really be happy with a man who doesn’t really want the things I want? Who is indulging me for a whole host of reasons, none of which feel like the right ones to me? Can we make it through this difficult journey when we feel so differently about where we are coming from and we are going? I honestly don’t know.

We already have our daughter and hopefully sometime soon, we’ll have another child as well. Maybe, when we’re past the building our family part of our lives, none of this will matter anymore. Or maybe I’ll want to try for a third child and Mi.Vida will say no and it will lead to our eventual demise. I honestly don’t know but it’s hard to walk through life wondering if I made the right choice, feeling anger and resentment toward myself, and my partner, for how hard our differences make this.

I just hope some day I’ll have more confidence in myself, my partner, and the choice we made to be together.

13 responses

  1. Charlie and I did not get to the some measure of compromise as it relates to IF until 7 years after we started. He would say things like, it doesn’t matter, we’ll be happy anyway. We fought all the time about how many embryos to transfer and at its basic heart: whether we’d do IVF in the first place.

    I never got the sense that he wanted the same things I did, and it scared me a lot. Even when we came to trying for another child, he actually told me he wanted to walk away because he was done trying. He was fine with one, thankyouverymuch.

    But I wasn’t. And eventually I stopped feeling badly about wanting another baby when he didn’t, and I basically told him that I was working to be done, but I wasn’t ready. And so he didn’t fight me on it – he told me he’d do whatever it takes for me to be happy. If that meant more IVF, then so be it.

    So you’re not alone in not being on the same page. Fundamentally, Charlie and I are not: he wanted to be done with treatments like 5 years ago. I will be done with treatments once our embryos are gone without a baby to show for it. That’s our agreement.

    What has always helped me when I question our relationship is this question: If you won an all expenses paid trip to SOMEWHERE in the world, would you take your partner with you?

    My answer, always, is yes. I would want Charlie by my side as I got to explore wherever in the world I’d go. And I use that metaphor in our life now: it’s kind of an adventure we’re living, this whole trying to build a family. It’s not what I expected (we lost our luggage a long time ago, we can’t eat most of the food, we have no money, people keep pickpocketing us), but man, there are days like yesterday where we get to discover something together that makes us say wow.

    Either way, you’re not alone. And no one says you HAVE to be on the same page as it relates to your life, as long as you can figure a way to be partners together.

    xoxo

  2. Longtime reader here who’s meant to comment so many times in recent times (one who sees a lot of parallels between us but doesn’t want to give assvice or put my own feelings and experience onto yours) DS was born after a long period of trying but without AC, I then spent the next several years TTC and so wanting that 2nd child, completely consumed by it. DH refused the thought of AC (for his own valid reasons) and just couldn’t understand where I was at (and TBH completely happy with 1)

    Out of the blue, as I was getting to my late 30s, he said he’d do IVF and 9 months later we got our BFP, our 2nd DS born nearly 6 years after the first. And despite him being a wonderful easy child, and DS1 being at school and that much older and less needy (they get on wonderfully BTW, I love the age gap and the jealousy/hatred I had of people with the toddler and bump/newborn has vanished, truly replaced with a form of pity – I don’t think I would’ve been a very good mom to 2 littlies) I can’t believe how HARD it has been.

    I work 3 days and DH works from home 1 day and still I/we are just both so busy and tired all the time. I know it’s a stage in one way (DS2 is much the same age as Isa) but it is just so relentless, with little me/us time. I don’t think knowing this would have changed that yearning and what I thought I wanted, but at the same time time I count my lucky stars that we’ve finished our family building and love my boys and DH it’s certainly not all rosy “happy ever afters” here.

    I know it will get easier as the little one gets older but TBH I don’t know what shape our relationship will be in – although DH is an awesome Dad and does much of the cooking and equal house stuff, there just seems to be little over for us (and don’t get me started on how I feel that physically, spiritually and socially I’ve been struggling to carve anything out for myself to even tread water, let alone progress)

    I wish you the best trying to work through the morass – your words often bring back memories of when I was back in the trenches – and hope that things get easier for you soon

  3. Sometimes you and I are so much alike! I ask myself this question all the time, whether I made a mistake in who I married. Like you, K was my first serious boyfriend, and I do wonder whether having more experiences would’ve helped me know who was really the right one. There are a couple of things that help me, though. One is acknowledging that there’s a difference between saying “if I had to do this over, I might not have made the same choice” and saying “where we are right now, I want to get out.” I think if K and I had known how hard our marriage was going to be, we might not have gotten married. We’re just so different, and nothing is ever easy. I’m never going to have that married-to-my-best-friend relationship other people talk about. But here we are now, eight years in, and we still love each other. What’s done is done, and we’re sticking with it. In my cynical moments, I think that I may be unhappy with him, but I’d be even less happy without him.

    The other thing that helps is to remember that it’s not really fair to compare your current relationship with some hypothetical ideal. If I could leave K for some guy with the same sweetness, great smile, motivation, and care for his family who ALSO did the dishes, was good at managing money, and could fix stuff around the house (and made my heart go pitter-pat like K does), would I? Well yeah, probably. But that guy’s not out there. I’d just be exchanging one set of problems for another. I’ll stick with the guy I have all the history with.

    I know it is hard when the big thing you disagree on is also the biggest thing occupying your thoughts right now. But it won’t always be that way. This is just ONE phase of your life, and hopefully there are many others where you’ll be seeing more eye-to-eye.

  4. This is a brave post, E. I think you’re right to realize that the romantic ideal is just that … an ideal. I don’t know many people who are actually LIKE that. There are no flowers in my relationship, and to be honest, barely any nooky. Most nights we sit with our laptops in parallel, in our own worlds. But I do know that we chose to build a family together because we love each other, and we share values … we share the really important things. (That, and he once ordered three desserts for the two of us. It was love at first bite.)

    It’s a tough question. I’ve seen people split over less, and married through much more. You have to decide if, at the end of it all, this is the person you want to spend your adventure with. For me, the answer is still yes, even without the flowers and the nooky.

    xo.

  5. OK…get out of my head….My husband was not my first love, but had I married my first love I would be in a much worse situation than I am in now. But I get the whole not being on the same page thing. Before we had our WTF appointment, I don’t think Babe and I were really on the same page. He really wants to be done with the whole family building thing. He’s really OK with just having Raegan. It wasn’t his ideal, but the strain on our relationship and our bank account was too much for him.

    I don’t necessarily wonder if I’m the one who made the mistake, but more that my husband made a mistake by marrying me. We were both older when we met and married. Then it took 4 1/2 years to get pregnant and have our first child. In my head, I argue with myself about how I should let him go so he can be with someone better. I’ve said before I know my husband loves me more than I love him. It in no way means I don’t love my husband. He is my best guy friend (my girls are my BFF’s).

    After our WTF appointment and a therapy appointment, we somehow ended up on the same page. It wasn’t pretty. I still worry I’m pushing him where he doesn’t want to go with TTC again. Our original plan was go to through all our insurance and give up at the end of coverage, but after having Raegan and the insurance coverage changing, I think my hubs was more along the lines of OK we’ve got one, we can be done. I wasn’t nor will I ever be totally OK with having just one child. If in the end we are not lucky enough to have a second, let alone 3rd or 4th, I will love my daughter until the end of the world, but I will still feel a hole. My husband won’t

    This is a wonderful post….it’s honesty and candidness is beautifully refreshing and really makes me think about where I am, how I got here, and where I’m going…most importantly who has been and will be on this journey with me. Thank you….and again…get the heck out of my head!!

    HUGS!!!!

  6. This is a very brave post – and one that I think most, if not all, of us can identify with now, or sometime in our past (or future). Good for you for putting this out there! I get it so, so much!

    TTC-ing is so hard on a marriage. Sometimes, it tears it apart (I’ve been reading this a lot in the blogs) and sometimes, it brings us closer together (which, miraculously, happened to B and me = luck). You never know what outcome you’re going to get. All you can do is jump in and hope. And as we all know, hope is a bitch sometimes 😉

    I do hope that you guys ultimately end up where you BOTH want to be. It’s awful when one person makes sacrifices for the other’s happiness – especially when it comes to how many children you’ll have.

  7. So many places this takes me. First, the thought of still being together/procreating with my first boyfriend makes me want to give thanks to the god I don’t believe that I got the hell out of that 10 year dog shit situation. First relationships work for some people, a lot of people I’m sure, my husband’s parents for example. But I really feel like I learned what was acceptable and (mostly) what wasn’t in that relationship, and am so glad I refused to make the same mistakes twice.

    I am a FIRM believer in not going into a relationship with the desire or intent to change vital pieces of the other person. If there are parts of their personality that really bother you, that is only going to get WORSE. You have to embrace them as a whole, and love them for exactly who they are, not what you want them to be, or what they could be. We all change through time and experience, and hopefully we do it and like where the other person is at that moment, but we are who we are. Being a slob, bad with money, wanting children, putting away clothes color coordinated on special hangers all facing the same direction, these are all things that may change, but because THEY make that choice not because I harp and moan and bitch. I tried for 10 years to convince my ex that a clean house, responsible money spending, and a non drunken/pill popping life was the way to go. He wasn’t an evil person, he was smart, nice (at times), and had SUCH POTENTIAL I just kept trying. It did not work at all.

    On the flip side, my husband and I are currently having issues because I don’t want to go to college. He wants me to, I’d rather go be a waitress. Crazy right? I know. But he knew what he was getting into, you can’t change someone else, they have to do it themselves.

    • Christ, I totally made this about me and went off on a not particularly eloquent tangent.

      I’m sorry you are having difficulties with this, that there are so many obstacles. I hope you are right, once you get past the things that are actively causing strife you 2 find a way to work harmoniously toward a family and life in which you are both content and happy, with corresponding goals. It would be wonderful if the mental pictures of the future matched.

  8. I have wondered the same thing, about whether I made the right choice in partner…I suspect a large percentage of women have (men? who knows, they don’t in general obsess/worry/question as much). Not to get into specifics about my own situation, but there are definitely times when I wonder if we’ll make it. He is a great father and involved in the household stuff (something I know a lot of wives struggle with, so I’m lucky on that front), but it often feels like we are co-workers on this parenting/running a house gig. The passion, the romance….not happening right now. But we make each other laugh, and at rare calm moments I can catch a glimpse of our past and hopefully our future, and I carry on.

    • I love this comment 🙂 This describes my situation to a T. “The passion, the romance….not happening right now. But we make each other laugh, and at rare calm moments I can catch a glimpse of our past and hopefully our future, and I carry on.” YES! We are carrying on right now and that is a lot better than the alternative!

  9. Also, wanted to let you know that I really really appreciate all your posts about marriage/therapy/etc… it is easy to feel like the only one struggling with this kind of thing, its like marriage struggles are the final frontier even in our over-sharing community (and I get it, I know other people are involved and its not always just our story to tell, and we have to respect our partners’ right to privacy).

  10. I think that most bloggers don’t always write about the problems in their relationships. I know I haven’t until recently, partly because my husband sometimes reads my blog (now password protected from HIM) and partly because I’ve been thoroughly conditioned to not talk about it. When things are good, it’s embarrassing to me to have put all the dirty laundry out there in moments of bad. This is a big problem IRL for me. In reality, every couple has areas of conflict. In my marriage, IF was a HUGE problem and we’re only starting to heal, something that is possible in part because I’ve become content with what he wants–a one-child family–and we’re not still facing down TTC.

    I too have felt envious of other couples who seem to work much more smoothly together. I have the advantage of having rejected a smooth relationship for one with more conflict and angst but also more passion. I imagine that it is really difficult to evaluate your decision to marry MiVida as a choice when he was your first love, so you don’t have something you rejected to measure him against. I would echo another commenter, though, and say it’s one thing to measure him against a hypothetical ideal and another to realize that anyone you married would have had flaws, probably ones you found significant.

    My sympathies; I know the feeling and it’s not a pleasant one.

    • Just a side-note – I love how honest we all are in commenting, especially when we have husbands/partners who read our blogs. I feel so free in the comments sections of others’ blogs!!!

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