Several years ago, when my husband and I were almost empty-nesters, my 20-year-old daughter discovered her dad was having an affair, and she told me about it. I was not shocked. He had clearly been increasingly "annoyed," and I chalked it up to work stress, instead of simply asking him what the matter was.
Here's what didn't make sense to me. We thought we were an amazing family. We had intact, supportive extended family. We were really good parents, and our children and home were happy. But that was all on the surface - underneath, we weren't really nurturing each other. And that ultimately took its toll on the marriage.
We're now three years post-separation, and two years post-divorce. My oldest is living in another city, and my youngest is about to graduate from college. I am in our big house, all alone, getting my ducks in a row so I can live on my own salary when the alimony ends. That entails selling the family home and leaving the community where we raised our kids. After three years since the "bomb" dropped, my kids are still experiencing life-changing pain, only this time, it's because of what I need to do to make a life for myself. He caused pain, and now I'm causing pain, with not only the loss of their family but the loss of the home where they grew up.
It doesn't matter what age the kids are when the walls come tumbling down. For the rest of our lives, we will not be the family we all loved and cherished. We just won't. Holidays, graduations, weddings, baptisms, grandchildren - everything will be different now. I've learned the hard way that if you've grown apart or are contemplating a "break," you should give it all you've got. The grass is truly not always greener.
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