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For Your Marriage

Lost Dreams

After almost 10 years of marriage, my husband decided to quit his secure government job and start his own business. I was scared. We had two children, ages 2 and 6, and could not maintain our simple lifestyle solely on my salary. Tom had no clear idea of what kind of business he wanted to start. He just wanted to be his own boss.

He pulled out his retirement savings, which we soon exhausted. He began to pay the mortgage late, then couldn’t pay it at all until my parents helped out. Several credit cards maxed out. Bill collectors started to call. The IRS hauled us in for an audit.

Tom reluctantly abandoned his dream of owning a business and looked for employment. Over the next six years he held a succession of jobs, some temporary, others unsuited to his talents. My anger and resentment grew. I felt that he had ignored the needs of his family in order to pursue a selfish and unrealistic quest. I considered divorce, and most of my family and friends agreed that I was justified.

Still, I held back, mostly out of concern for the children. Tom was a good father and I knew that they would be devastated if we split up. Somehow, I hoped that things would get better.

Miraculously, they did. Tom found a job with the county government that provided stability and a steady, if modest, income. We cancelled the credit cards and paid off the balances. We were even able to set a little aside for the college fund.

The emotional wounds took longer to heal. I had to learn to trust Tom again. Tom had to recover his self-esteem. All of this took a toll on our relationship. Twenty years later, our marriage still struggles, but things are better. I’m glad that we stuck it out. I’m glad that we have tried to honor the commitment that we made to each other more than 30 years ago.