Starting Over

I met my wife in 1994. It was the perfect storm – we found each other at just the right time in our lives and everything seemed to fall into place. Our first child, a son, was born less than a year later. We were overwhelmed, ecstatic, and challenged. Everything was new, and I do mean everything! Every day brought a new first for us as a couple and as parents, and we quickly became the old married couple who did nothing on our own. We didn’t have family close by so we put aside our “couple time” and focused on our son.

weddingIn 1999, we decided to get married. It was more of a calculated decision than it should have been. It was definitely not the grand romantic gesture that it should have been, but in reality we had already been married for years. Our son was now four. In my mid-thirties, I was content with one child. My wife, six years younger than me, was not. She wanted one more, and with some convincing I agreed. Just one more!

In October of 2000 my twin daughters were born. Right, just one more, it was a good plan. This was going to be a challenge. Everyone, from family to friends to doctors, told us not to worry. They would develop the same habits and things would get easier very quickly. I know now that these were well-meaning lies to keep us from panicking. I changed jobs to be home every night, and we moved to my wife’s hometown in Ohio to be closer to the support structure of friends and family that we would need for this new challenge. I do not regret this decision even one little bit because both of my daughters are smart, beautiful, caring individuals. They are still, to this day, opposites. Our marriage again became completely about parenthood. Our needs as a couple were saved for another day.

As I look back, I’m not sure we were ever perfectly matched. She was very outgoing. She loved being around people and being the center of attention. I, on the other hand, had a tougher time meeting people and socializing. I had moved a lot. I’ve never did a good job of maintaining friendships when they shifted to long-distance mode. My friend, of 23 years, Rob still calls me a “horrible friend” when we talk or text once or twice a year. He’s not wrong, but I still love him like a brother, and he knows it.


So little by little, move by move, I cut myself off from new relationships and lost myself in other interests. When we moved to Michigan, it was almost a relief for me. A fresh start, no one knew me, and I could be invisible. My wife immediately developed friendships in the community, schools, and neighborhood. She started going out with groups of people on a regular basis. Though she would regularly invite me to some of these events, I wouldn’t go. I would use such excuses as, “I have to work early”, or “I won’t know anyone” to get out of going. She seemed perfectly content to go alone. In hindsight, I was deluding myself. She wasn’t happy about going alone. She just didn’t feel strongly enough about it to communicate her feelings.

I’m not sure exactly when it happened but things got bad. We barely spoke to each other unless it was about the kids. Our lives went in completely different directions. I was angry all of the time. This was the moment that our marriage could have been saved, but it wasn’t.


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The Beginning
About John Kowalski

John is a veteran of the United States Air Force. He is currently a retail manager in a company who shall remain nameless. He is the father of three awesome children, despite his parenting. He is fallable, imperfect and will tell you all about it, if someone doesn't beat him to it. He loves writing, with a passion, and uses it as both self-therapy and to help others.

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  1. Robert says:


    I can out my last marriage up to a mirror with yours and they’d look similar. Except what was holding us together were dogs and not children… And I was the social butterfly.

    But what happened was, it was me who kept f*cking it all up and she wouldn’t argue with me. Then I went out without her, left her at home, mind you it was a lot of visiting neighbors, playing cards, bbq’s and such, so if she wanted to step out the house and join she could… But she wouldn’t.

    And I knew things weren’t going to be ok early in when I would get mad at her for not wanting to be around my best friends whom I consider my only family.

    Anyway, fast forward 7 years… Things got worse between us, and we became more roomates than friends, and divorce happened.

    The great news is that I learned A LOT about myself, and I feel horrible with how I treated my ex, but essentially, going through that… “Fixed me”

    I just told my wife a few days ago… Me 5 years ago wouldn’t be making the necessary adjustments (in real time) to make things comfortable in the house…

    Great post, and keep your head up man. Keep looking for that open door, because… You know the saying right…


    • John says:

      Thanks Robert! We all learn our lessons at different speeds. While I failed to learn in real time, I did learn in hindsight. I’m better for all of it now.

      Looking for the next open door!


  2. “Maybe it’s part of my Italian heritage. In my family, you argue passionately, air your grievances, solve your problems, and make up just as passionately. Nobody ever went to bed angry, maybe mentally exhausted, but never angry. My wife, on the other hand, is an avoider.”

    Same here except my wife is exactly the same as you and I. Our fights are real and intense and yet we are always better for it when they are over. The scariest times for me are those very rare times where we go to bed angry. It’s happened once (maybe twice) in our 10 years of marriage and I hate it. Fear it. You talk later about how necessary it is to communicate through the good times and the bad and that is really the heart of the matter. Do that, and the rest seems to work itself out.

    That and, “If I have learned anything in all of this, it’s that I’m willing to change to make a partner happy.”

    I’m learning that right now and the strong-willed/stubbornness part of my personality is making it quite the challenge. But, I’m learning.

    Thank you for such a thoughtful, honest, and open post. I really gain a ton from the sharings of other parents in the form of perspective and even the more basic fact of simply knowing I’m not alone.

    • John Kowalski says:

      Thanks Brad! As hard as it was to write it was absolutely necessary for me to move on. It does help to know that people can relate. I wish you and your wife the best. Find a way to NEVER go to bed angry. Even if it means swallowing your pride and admitting fault even when you think you’re right. You will be glad you did it! I look forward to working with all of you here at DRT

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