Two weekends ago - after what was to be a "brief" separation turned into 7 months of living apart - my husband moved back home.
It has been a long and bumpy road to get us here...to a place where we were both ready to be married to each other again. To a place where we have both agreed to put in the work needed to try to fix what was broken.
And so far I am very happy to report that this reconciliation has been very positive. Our girls are over the moon to have their daddy back home and we have made family time a top priority - spending lots of time playing board games and reading stories all together.
We have also made spending time as a couple a priority. This was something I know we didn't do enough of before. This is one of the big lessons we needed to learn.
I have always said that marriage is hard and communication is the key to success. Turns out I was talking the talk and not walking the walk. Because we weren't communicating...we were co-existing.
I had convinced myself that we didn't have to spend every second together and that having time apart made us stronger. And while to some degree I still think that is true...I also know now that it's a fine balance. And that spending time just being with each other - even if we are just watching TV - is just as important as regular date nights.
The past 7 months on my own has given me (and I think I can safely say him as well) a huge dose of perspective. I have thought long and hard about our life together - how it began when we were so young and how I was so sure this was the right path for me that I never even considered it could go wrong.
I realize now that we never really had a chance to figure out who we were without each other. We were just 17 when we started dating and that from the beginning we were always a "we".
It's a dangerous thing to not have a strong sense of self as you grow up and change. As the world changes around you and life takes you on it's crazy journey. Because by the time we realized the problem it was almost too late to change it.
And it's tempting to consider starting all over again. I think for both of us this has been true. The lure of "what could have been" or what "could still be". But it is the true unknown...and we have built a life and a family together. To throw that away for an unknown future...well...for me it wasn't worth it.
While our relationship may never be shiny and new again...it is rich and deep with history and memories and love.
And so I approach this take 2 on my marriage with my eyes wide open and my head leading my heart. I love my husband. Have always loved him and will always love him. But I know now that love is not enough. It is mandatory and amazing but it cannot be the sole foundation upon which a relationship is built.
We are still a work in progress. We have 20 years of bad communication habits to overcome. 20 years of thinking "I know what that look means" or assuming that we know what the other is going to say or how they will react. it is key for both of us to never assume but to ask the questions and express what we are feeling.
I am grateful for this second chance. This opportunity to really learn from our mistakes, to realize where we went wrong and - hopefully - do it better this time.
Time will tell...wish us luck.