My youngest son loves to draw. Each day, he draws a family portrait. It's usually four little people with all of our names written above or below. He has been doing this for a long time, but it seems like he really started after the affair was revealed. Coincidence? I think not. I think it's heaven's little reminders of why I'm still here.
In his little mind, this family unit is the most important thing in the world. It is his world. It's the first thing that comes to mind when he sits down to draw. What would his drawing look like if we divorced? Would all four of us still be on the page? Would three be on one side and Dad on the other? Would our faces have frowns?
I think of how my life was turned upside down on D-Day. If I chose to walk away from my marriage, I'd be doing the same exact thing to my children's lives. What a selfish decision that would be on my part.
They say you shouldn't stay in a marriage just "for the kids." I don't think people stay married just for the kids' sake, but instead choose to stay BECAUSE of the kids. There is a difference. Because when you share kids with someone, you share just about everything else in life. And whether you stay or go, some things will remain shared.
Without kids, you can choose to never see your spouse again. You can say goodbye and move on with your life without him/her. With kids, however, your ex-spouse remains very much a part of your life. When the kids are little, you are likely to still deal with them on a daily basis! Illnesses, sports games, school projects, car pools, holidays, proms, weddings, grandchildren - you share these things with your ex-spouse forever. You are required to remain a partner with this person on some level.
Then you have the dating thing. Bringing home possible stepparent candidates to meet your children. Ugh. I cannot bear the thought of another woman packing my kids' lunches or taking them on vacation. I'm sure the image of another man tucking my kids in their beds is enough to make my husband nauseous. I have enough jealousy to deal with from the affair; I don't need to provoke more my handing over my new-and-improved husband to the meat market.
Because we have kids together, we have seen each other at our worst. It all began when my husband held my hand while I screamed like a wild beast giving birth. We dealt with colic. Co-sleeping. Stomach flu. Years of breastfeeding. Accidents. We sacrificed sex for sleep when we had nothing left.
Enduring parenthood together creates a bond like no other. Because we have kids together, I feel an unbreakable connection to him. I can't imagine another man walking into my life now and trying to fill his shoes.
So no, I'm not here because I'm a martyr sacrificing my happiness so to not disrupt my children's happy home. I'm here because healing my marriage with the father of my children sounds like a much happier life than the alternative. It's a choice to hope for beauty and joy and love, rather than bitterness, brokenness and sadness.