Mistakes I Made in My 1st Marriage- Part Two

Mistakes I Made in My 1st Marriage- Part Two

 

I try to ignore the ups and downs of posting a blog. I try to be like a quarterback with a short memory, who forgets both the success and the failures.

It is difficult to guess whether something will be a hit or not, and Part 1 of this post was definitely read by a lot of you. I cannot help but laugh, because either you are all very nosy, or genuinely want to know what mistakes you can save yourselves from. I do not blame the nosy, because I am the one who posted for the world to see. Either way, I thank you all. I have been so appreciative of the kind words by so many, and I hope to simply help anyone who might need it. That is why I do this, and why I insist on complete openness and at times… brutal honesty.

If you missed Part 1, click this link: “Mistakes I Made in My 1st Marriage- Part One”

Part Two, continued…

 

  1. I secretly smoked at times (addiction)

    • What I did: It all started when I was working as a bartender in college. I worked at bars that allowed smoking, and I was around smoke and smokers every shift.For some stupid reason, I thought I should smoke too. I forced myself through the first pack of nasty cigarettes, until I started to like them. Everyone I knew smoked… so I thought I should. I mean, why not, right? My ex-wife hated me smoking, but didn’t mind (even participated) if we were drinking. So, then I was smoking only when I drank. I drank a lot. It quickly led to me smoking all of the time, close to a pack a day. It was easy to hide because I worked in a smoky bar… I always reeked of smoke.

      The problem became a bigger problem when I quit the bar scene and we moved to Austin, Texas. No longer did I have the excuse of a smoky bar to cover my addiction. Somehow, I was able to quit cold turkey, after 2 years of secretly smoking. I am not sure what stressful event caused it, but I started smoking again at one point, and after a year was again able to quit.

      We moved to Virginia and again the cycle of starting, secretly (and sometimes not so secretly) smoking, then quitting began again. I had quit for good, that is until my pettiness and immaturity relished in the “I-don’t-give-a-crap-what-you-think-any-more” attitude that came with the divorce process, and I smoked with vengeance! I smoked nearly 2 packs a day. Chain smoking like an 1800’s cowboy, and I wanted her to know it.

      Definitely, not my finest moment….

      I eventually quit again, but this bad habit and horrible cycle leaked into my new marriage and had to be confronted.

    • How it Hurt My Marriage: It hurt in very obvious and not so obvious ways. Obviously I was lying about it, which hurt the emotional closeness of our relationship. Yet, it was more so a physical problem that in turn affected the emotional side of the relationship. In wanting to make sure I was not caught lying about the deliciously gross cigarettes I smoked that day, I would not be affectionate with her after getting home. I wore cologne, too much of it. It was excuse after excuse, lie after lie.I was putting cigarettes before her needs. My addiction put distance between us, and she was a potential hindrance on my first love… cigarettes.

      Addictions come in all shapes, sizes and forms, but all of them are destructive. It simply hurt by putting distance in between us, and keeping us a part.

    • How I’ve Attempted to Correct it: Though I have slipped a few times in my new marriage, I again could not correct this without the help of my wife. After getting caught- she is much more observant (thankfully)- we had a hard heart to heart. Tears shed, struggles made known, the journey to recovery began. I quit a long time ago now (in cigarette years) but I pray that I never again fall. I pray that if I do, that I immediately tell my wife and seek her help and understanding. Change is pretty awesome!Also, don’t start, ever… it’s much easier that way.
  2. I did not handle stress in a productive manner.

    • What I did: As you can start to see patterns of mistakes, there were always repercussions that coincided. I like to stress myself out more than need be, because it’s a fun hobby for me. I have always taken way too much on my shoulders, and almost never gave the burden over to God. Well, as you can predict, things did not work out so well when I did that. So, I was pretty much in a state of stress most of my past marriage. What a joy I must have been to be around. Not only was I stressed all of the time, but I handled it poorly most of those times. I’ve been a very weak person in many aspects, and this was no different. My stress security blankets have mostly been presented in the first 4 mistakes. I found ways to sneak away and smoke. I drank, nearly on a nightly basis, and I escaped reality as frequently as possible via TV and movies. You notice how I never ran to my ex-wife when I was stressed. I am not sure who started the cycle, but let’s just say that I did not get much encouragement, and conversations usually added to my guilt and shame as a failure. Since this is a one sided conversation, I will take the blame. Not one of my stress relievers was healthy, productive, or cheap.
    • How it Hurt My Marriage: If it is not apparent yet, then I have not done a good job. Either way, I again was separating myself from the marriage. I had built in failure excuses, and “I’m trying so hard”, justifications of my dirty habits. I found every way to push myself away from my ex. In many ways it was self-protection, and in other ways it was a full blown addiction laced with excuses… which was self-protection from the self.Whew… if you ever want to feel like a broken and screwed up individual, just write about it!
    • How I’ve Attempted to Correct it: The first step in correcting this ill-advised behavior is to recognize when it is happening sooner than in the past.What helped me the most was my faith in Jesus. I tried all of the worldly things mentioned above, and nothing helped. Now, when I turn to Him and give Him all of my burdens, I get to just live.

      This correction may not be the most helpful for those of you who are non-believers, but I’d blatantly object strongly and say that it is MOST helpful to non-believers.

      Think about alcoholics and the 12 Step Program. They rely on a higher power, whatever that is, or whoever that is, and they release their struggles onto that higher power’s shoulders. That is what Jesus did for me. I used to drink every night, and looking back I know now that it was a coping mechanism.

      Funny enough, once I was divorced, and able to understand my relationship with Jesus greater than before, I stopped drinking. I still have a beer every now and again, or even a nice whiskey and coke, but it is rare. I have never again used drinking as a coping mechanism since my previous marriage. I look at all of my old ‘mechanisms’ with disdain now. They no longer hold any power over me, or my marriage.
      You HAVE TO see what these things do to you, or WHY you do them, and then stopping them becomes an actual option.

      We have to open our eyes.

      Ignorance is never as blissful as you think.

  3. I was not a Christian leader

    • What I did: There is a call to Christian men to be leaders of their home. This is not a sexist mentality, but one of giving respect and love through leadership. We can agree or disagree, but men and women were designed with specific qualities unique to each gender. This does not mean that both genders cannot have a certain quality, but that one is typically more suited for a certain quality than the other.For example; most women would say that women are more nurturing in nature, compared to men. That is not sexist. Most men would agree that women are more nurturing, but that they too can be nurturing. The same goes for being a leader within the family structure. Men are designed to be the leader, and problems can arise when they are not leading.

      In my case, I was not a Christian leader, or a leader of any type. I advocated at times, not to go to church. I pushed us away from God at every opportunity. I put the responsibility of keeping a relationship with God solely in my spouse’s hands. By that, I mean she had to drag me to church kicking and screaming.

      Some leader I was…

      This lack of leadership seemed to leak into other facets of our marriage. I (as you already read) did not stand up in a fiscally responsible way. I was not a leader. This lack of leadership allowed the metaphoric walking all over me to happen. I tried to hide the fact that I did not wear the pants, but I am sure outsiders could see my nakedness, aka… lack of leadership.

    • How it Hurt My Marriage: When I continued to struggle through life, as most do at times, my lack of leadership made me the victim. It wasn’t my fault if things went of course. The interesting thing about a victim, is sometimes they become the focus of blame.
    • How I’ve Attempted to Correct it: I still struggle with correcting this mistake. I will say that when courting my wife Samantha, the most important question she had to answer correctly, was who would be first in her life, me or Jesus? This was the most important question she had about me too. We both answered Jesus.That answer took care of so many of my previous mistakes. I knew I wouldn’t be in charge of her happiness, but Jesus would. I knew that she would forgive me for my struggles, and help me in handing them over.

      I do not know if I will ever be the Christian Leader that I wish to be, but with my wife’s help I am becoming a better leader. She does take the reins when needed, but allows me to navigate.

      I guess I have learned from the past, because I am strong when she is weak, and she is strong when I am weak. In the past I was weak all of the time… which is not a partnership, a marriage, or even a friendship.

      I now go through spurts of making the focus of our home God, which is more than the past. I hope that I can step up further, so that my daughter sees a strong man in a loving partnership.

  4. I thought her happiness was my duty as a Husband

    • What I did: From the very beginning of the relationship, I did everything within my power to make her happy. I jumped through (almost) every hoop, climb every mountain, jumped off every bridge. When you don’t really know what love is, or have the best of examples growing up, then your assumptions are your teacher. I thought love was sacrificing anything and everything for the other person’s happiness. There may be some truth to that, but it sure as heck better involve both parties equally trying to make the other happy… or it’s just a bad math problem.
    • How it Hurt My Marriage: My constant and relentless attempts to make her happy were blatantly stupid. Her own family would question why I tried so hard to make her happy, or why I let her walk all over me… I thought it was for love. It hurt the marriage less than it hurt me. Ultimately this one mistake was the most devastating mistake of all. I slowly sacrificed every little bit of who I was in an attempt to make her happy. I said goodbye to many of the things, and people that made me happy. I relied on her happiness for my own… but… that never really made me happy. It was more relief than happiness. It was a break, if only temporary, from the constant attempts at making her happy. Not only did it slowly kill off all resemblance of my true self, but I was then expected to be the source of her happiness. When I was unable to make her happy, then it only made sense to blame the person behind the failed attempts… me. She blamed me, but I blamed myself. “Why can’t I make her happy?” I asked myself far too many times. When you lose yourself in an attempt to make another happy, that is not love. NO ONE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR HAPPINESS, BUT YOU! Never, ever, ever, forget that. The goal is to be with someone that you enjoy being together with, whether happy or sad.
    • How I’ve Attempted to Correct it: First thing was first, and this applies to all of the mistakes, but I had to discuss this with Samantha while we were dating. She had to know that I could not be the source of her happiness. She had to know how it nearly destroyed me in my first marriage. Luckily, we both knew exactly where the source of our happiness was supposed to come from, and who, which (again) was Jesus.Of course I still do things with Samantha’s happiness in mind, and even on occasion I sacrifice my own happiness. Yet… she does that too. Wow! What a difference. We both get to be happy, and we both attempt to cheer each other up when needed. We are partners.

      All I can advise, is that if you are unhappy in your constant attempt at making the other person happy, you need to speak up. You need to talk together, and let the other know (lovingly) that you cannot be their source of happiness, because it will never fulfill them… never… ever.

I know these are long, and it seems almost cruel to expect someone to spend 10 minutes reading the mistakes of another, but I hope you can take this as an example to look in the mirror BEFORE it leads to bigger problems.

There is always TWO people in a marriage, and though it can feel you are the one who has it worse, that does not mean you are pure in actions. We all make mistakes, but not realizing when we make them can be the worst mistake of all.

I’d listen to some Michael Jackson, “Man in the Mirror” and make a change.

You know what I’m saying??

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