Our marriage had been sitting on my shoulders for too long, and I was unable to hold it up anymore.
I knew I was madly in love with Eric when we got married. He was charming and funny, and he proved to me that chivalry wasn’t dead. More importantly, I felt like I was a better person when I was with him.
Our relationship started off great. We dated for nearly six years before tying the knot. We truly knew each other and there wasn’t a person in my life I wanted to be with more.
But when things started to get rough, it completely knocked our relationship off-balance.
Three years into our marriage, two major life-changing events happened at the same time. Right as I became pregnant with our first child, Eric suffered a terrible injury at work which required two surgeries, almost a year of physical therapy, and ended his physically demanding career as a carpenter.
One of the beneficial things about being a couple is that you’re supposed to attack the world together. You’re supposed to be a team. You’re supposed to become stronger because you have someone to lean on when things inevitably get tough.
Sadly, though, sometimes things get so tough for so long of a period that you forget how your relationship is supposed to be.
I truly loved Eric. I wanted the best for him. So while I helped him recover physically, I didn’t bother him with the day-to-day tasks. I took care of the baby, worked full-time, and kept up on the house. Yes, it was hard but Eric felt so helpless after having his career ripped out from under him, I just wanted him to be happy again.
As the weeks turned into months, it felt as if my husband was drifting away from me. Being unable to work, he was often trapped in the house. I encouraged him to get out and spend time with his friends or for him to join me and the baby for outings. I wanted him to enjoy life again. I wanted his fun-loving attitude to come back.
But other than giving Eric space and attempting to encourage him to be social, I didn’t know what else to do to make him happy. I just kept being the “responsible” one while I let my husband try to find himself again.
Years passed, and with them came more challenges: Substance abuse (he turned to alcohol and drugs to help numb his pain and escape from reality), another baby, and finally, at last, a new career path for Eric. He was still in the trades—an electrician this time—but it was something that helped make him feel like he had a purpose again.
But the whole process was too much for me to handle. I was exhausted from trying to be the strong one. Our marriage had been sitting on my shoulders for too long, and I was unable to hold it up anymore.
I started battling with my own depression and it ate at me from the inside. I found it nearly impossible to get out of bed in the morning. And the simple pleasures that were supposed to be the sunshine of my days did nothing for me. I was turning into someone I didn’t want to become.
I felt so unhappy. Eric and I had grown far apart. We were no longer the same people we were when we married. We let our circumstances change us and we didn’t grow together as a couple—we grew apart as individuals. Even with counseling and help from loved ones, there was no repairing everything our relationship went through.
Filing for divorce wasn’t easy; I was still worried about Eric. I knew that I was no longer in love with him but I still loved him as a person. I worried about the toll our separation would have on him.
But after multiple rounds of couple’s therapy over the years and things just not getting any better, I knew I had to file for divorce. Eric was devastated, completely in shock. He began to shut down once again and I feared he might spiral back into depression.
Our marriage went through a lot, more than I ever thought possible. It seemed as if the world was out to get us. And as a caring person by nature, I wanted nothing more than to make my husband happy, even when it meant sacrificing my own happiness.
But in the end, the choice was clear: I couldn’t keep living my life for someone else. I needed to live it for me.
It’s been about a year since Eric and I have been divorced, and I can honestly say that initiating the whole process was one of the most difficult yet freeing things I have ever done. I don’t regret being married, nor do I regret getting divorced.
Both were very thought-out decisions in my life. But I knew I couldn’t continue with that relationship if I wanted to maintain my own sense of happiness and well-being.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever get married again but for now I’m happily enjoying my single days with my two adorable kids.
Alex Alexander is a blogger for YourTango.
This originally appeared on YourTango. Republished here with permission.