Wife #1- Silent Roommates


“What…you’re what?” Holy crap…she’s pregnant. This is crazy. I’m only 20 for crying out loud. I… uh… well we… oh man… a baby…wait a minute.. A BABY…this is gonna be awesome! Yes it really happened in my mind that quickly. We both embraced the idea and were ready to face what was next. A couple weeks later she made it into the doctor office where we found out the test she had taken was wrong. Apparently when she took the original test she wasn’t actually pregnant. Funny thing is that since we thought she was pregnant we figured we didn’t need protection, which is when she actually got pregnant. Well, if we are going to have a baby we are going be a family which means we are getting married.

I wanted to propose to her in a unique way. I had taken a fortune cookie and carefully opened up the wrapper and with a pair of tweezers I surgically removed the existing fortune. I replaced it with my slip of paper that asked her if she would marry me. I resealed the wrapper with a foodsaver thing at my parents house. It was Feb 14, 1997, she was 8 months along and I had finally bought a ring. We went to some Chinese food place up in Alpine with my sister and her boyfriend. My sister switched the cookies when they hit the table and ensured that it was delivered correctly. It was now that I realized HOW LONG IT TOOK HER (#1) to go through the fortune cookie process. She would open it… then break it in half…. then eat half….then the other half…. I was losing my mind!! I fumbled with the ring under the table waiting to raise it at the moment she realized what was happening. She noticed I was messing with something so she quickly inquired, “What are you doing….”, looked around and lowered her voice, “….are you stealing silverware!? Joshua.. Put it back now!”

(A little background, I on a single occasion brought home some silverware from a Chinese Buffet and now I’m the silverware thief. One time. Once, thats it, I promise.)

I responded to her and said through clenched teeth without moving my lips, “Its not silverware! My knee just hurts.. Now.. Finish… Your… Stinking… Fortune Cookie.. Please.” She knew something was up so kept one eye on me as she pretended to finally read the slip of paper. She turned her head back to me trying to catch me with some silverware. The look on her face immediately changed as she realized she saw her name on the paper. She slowly turned back to the paper reading and re-reading. My heart was pounding. There is still a chance she could say no. Oh crud.. What if she says no.. This is stupid…geeze what is going on…why isn’t she looking back over!!? This time she looked back and my shaking hands were above the table holding the 1/4ct Kay Jewelers diamond cut yellow gold ring. Her face was red with shock and tears were flowing as she said yes!! As I leaned over to put the ring on and embrace her she shot back in her seat put her hands on her belly and concentrated on her breathing.. She was having her largest contraction to date and I thought for sure we were about to have a baby. I agree that would have made a great story but it was just a contraction which I stopped being nervous about them until 5-7 minutes apart.

Gavin was born March 3, 1997 and we got married on November 15, 1997 in the backyard of my parents’ house in Alpine California. We had a potluck style reception right there in the backyard with 3-4′ tall sunflowers all over the backyard that were cut and jammed into the ground just for us. It was a small wedding with 50+- friends/family. We stayed in San Diego for our 2 day Honeymoon and then began planning the rest of our lives.

We decided that we wanted at least two kids and we wanted them to be close in age so we tried for a girl next. Its interesting to think what life would have been like if the next baby was a girl, but it wasn’t. It was another Boy! We had decided on the name Garrett and on January 3, 1999 all the charts and sonograms indicated that he was full term and ready. We were in the hospital prepared to meet our second son. The main nurse was so abrupt and kind of mean. Right before the actual pushing process began the nurse was checking the dilation and other stuff and said, “oh here is the water sac..” I watched her as she appeared to be tugging on the amniotic fluid sac. Mama’s face was showing signs of an imminent explosion on this nurse. All of a sudden we heard a kind of pop and had to hold back laughter as the nurse was now covered in fluid. We quickly regained focus as the night went from us maybe having a baby to here he comes. He was born without too much additional delay. They put Garrett on her chest for a brief moment before moving him to a little infant bed on the other side of the room. Mom and I looked at each other and knew this was different, something was wrong. They were cleaning him up and more nurses were coming in. You could sense the urgency in their actions and voices. Apparently Garrett was over a month early. His lungs were underdeveloped and his heart was a little big, whatever that meant they moved us downstairs to the NICU. There were many tears that day as we addressed the unknown. Mom stayed by his side 24/7 in at Children’s Hospital San Diego, she would occasionally pop home for a shower and change of clothes but then right back to Garrett’s side. I didn’t know what to do, Gavin was at home with family, she was at the hospital.. so I bottled emotions and went into what I thought was provider mode. I worked as much as I could making sure bills were paid, Gavin was taken care of and seeing if she needed anything from me. The more I freaked out the longer and harder I worked. That’s how I figured I would communicate that everything was under control, and would be ok I would stay calm and forge ahead. The problem was that she saw that as me not thinking it was serious and that work was more important than family. We didn’t talk about that at the time, we hadn’t yet learned to communicate effectively. So silently the wedge began to work its way between us.

Life set in, we bought a condo and I worked on average 12 hours, 6-7 days a week for years on end. Any semblance of friendship faded and quickly turned into a very systematic marriage. I saw me as providing her with the luxury of staying home with the kids, sacrificing myself for the family. She saw it as me choosing the work over family because even when I was home I was still taking calls and thinking or talking about work and constantly telling them all to hold on and to just give me a minute. We were going to church steadily for the past couple years and were part of a marriage group where we all discussed problems and possible solutions to common issues. Things actually seemed to be getting better. We fought to make the marriage work, but because of our immaturity we didn’t really know how to resolve things. We could understand that they should be resolved so we bottled them up and moved on. We tried for a girl one more time. We sold the condo and bought a house so she wouldn’t have to go up and down stairs with 4 kids. After 6 months of excruciating bedrest she gave birth to twin boys Griffin and Grady. What an amazing time of community as family, people from the neighborhood and church rallied to help us however we needed. I became more engulfed with work and even started taking Seminary classes.

She said that I had lost who I was. I had become what other people wanted me to be and not what the people that really mattered needed me to be. She wanted to raise kids with me… not for me. I pridefully dismissed her cries pleading for me to acknowledge her and that she needed more that just a guy who seems to be happier going to work than coming home.

Like the roots of tree creeping under a sidewalk eventually swelling and breaking the concrete the resentment and bitterness grew silently as we slid into a place which we would not recover.

About 18 months after the twins were born I came home from work and the boy’s mother and I had a talk. She told me that I didn’t want to do this, yet I pressed. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I was blind to the role I was playing in our demise and she knew it. I continued to insist, so she asked me if I was sure one more time before proceeding. I was expecting her to tell me of an affair, I was prepared for it and ready to figure out a way that we could get past it. But she hadn’t cheated. What she told me shocked me, she didn’t love me any more, quite frankly didn’t even like me. September 28, 2003 just 2 weeks short of 7 years of marriage!

I will skip the dramatics but it rocked my world… Everything I had come to know had been shaken to the very foundation. What a disaster! I was a zombie numb to the world and everything in it. In hindsight she was just stating the truth. She was right. We didn’t like each other at all. We were young and had grown past bitterness, filled with resentment and had become silent roommates. I sank into quite the depression, finally started some medication to help me through this time my eyes were opened wide and I was finally able to see what I had done. I excitedly shared with her that I was fixed and I saw everything so clearly, that it was going to be better and we were going to make it! She tearfully let me know that I had been saying the same thing for the past 7 years and now…she was so sorry…but it was too late.

There was nothing I could do. Every time I tried to do something for her it pushed her further away. We both turned away from God and ignored church while we tried to figure out life on our own. I couldn’t sell her on me again, I couldn’t do anything to make her see I had changed all I could do now is watch… Just watch.

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10 thoughts on “Wife #1- Silent Roommates

  1. […] snapped. (To see how I ended up at this point go back a few post and start from the beginning Wife #1- Silent Roommates […]

  2. Josh, I remember the time after this story. It helps to see where your mind was at during that time. You tell the happenings of your life so openly and honestly that it is refreshing. I miss you dearly, thanks for sharing.

  3. Kurtis Schuettenhelm says:

    Well said , thought of just skim through it but ended up reading the whole thing , your good people and we have missed yet another taco Tuesday

  4. redbarrett says:

    Well written, we had our 4 baby while I worked at San Diego Pools, in the delivery room with a 2 month premature son, phone in one hand and Nextel radio in the other, when I told the doc. I had to run and meet a gunite crew, I’d be back in a hour, he looked at me and said, you’ve got to be kidding, you need to stay right here and help your wife. We really put alot of time in for old SDP didn’t we, we need to talk soon.

  5. tim lawson says:

    I really can relate. Ive only been married once and divorced and no kids, but it really hits home. I struggle so much!

  6. You have a fantastic way of wording things. And I wanted to also let you know that while thinking how good this story is….how it touched me. You are probably aren’t one of those people that want people to feel really sorry for them due to misfortunes but I am sorry that happened to you. Especially after having four children. Keep writing

  7. Mall Tuur says:

    I feel your pain and the ability to express it. Putting down all the feelings and memories, I hope helps you to heal. It takes courage to put this all out. I have always been bother were some writer says if the marriage is struggling just choose to love them. I like what you said, : “You can choose to love them but you got like them first.” You got to like yourself first to to be able to love someone else.
    Wow, what power prayer has when a whole plane is saved from falling to the ground and to give peace to you that passes understanding.
    Your writing has kept me spell bound.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Risk, Zombie numb and Veal. Interesting choice of words bro…
    Do you like Steak Josh?
    Is it worth the risk?

    Just ensure its not Veal made to look like Steak the next time.

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