As Kristen unlocked the front door she was welcomed by a pile of dirty dishes in the sink, toys everywhere, and a note.
Sorry the house is a mess. I was in a rush this morning. Plus you just do such a good job at cleaning up and seem to enjoy it. Have a good day.
Kristen crumpled the note into a tiny ball and threw it on the floor as she screamed in frustration. She flopped onto the couch and cried. All she wanted was sleep after working all night.
Fighting to keep her eyelids open, Kristen began to pick up the toys strewn all across the living room. Finally, after the mess had been taken care of, Kristen showered and fell into bed for a few short hours of sleep before she was due back at the hospital again.
There was no need for an alarm clock--at 4:30 the kids ran into the room and bounced onto the bed, waking Kristen from her much needed sleep. She forced a smile and hugged the twins.
“Mommy, what’s for supper tonight? I’m getting hungry!” They bounced on the bed and begged for food in unison.
Mike popped his head around the corner, “Sorry honey, I know you’re sleeping, but I couldn’t stop them. They’re getting hungry and you know how they get when they start thinking about food!”
“Did you give them a snack?” Kirsten snapped.
“No. I didn’t know what to give them. You didn’t leave anything out for me.”
“Seriously. They’re 4. They’ll eat anything. What about supper--do you want to cook tonight? I’m just so tired from work.” Kristen’s eyes begged for a break.
“Oh you know I don’t even know how to turn the oven on! I would drive through somewhere, but you know how I’m trying to be healthy lately. What do you think about something easy tonight, like maybe just some meat and a few different vegetables. Maybe you could even make your delicious homemade macaroni and cheese so the kids will have something they like? That would be easy enough!
If you’re awake now and have the kids, I’m going to go get my shower. I’m beat!” Mike sauntered off down the hall with his towel already over his shoulder.
Kristen huffed and rolled out of bed. She knew she wasn’t going to win this argument, so it was easier just to smile and pretend like she didn’t mind. And she hated for the kids to think something was wrong. It wasn’t their fault mommy and daddy weren’t happy.
After the dinner mess had been cleaned and the kids were bathed and ready for bed, Kristen put on a clean pair of scrubs and started out the door for work.
“Bye honey! Have a good night at work. See you tomorrow!” Mike pecked her on the cheek absentmindedly.
“Mike. I can’t do this anymore. I am exhausted. I just don’t think I have it in me anymore.”
“What do you mean? Like you want to find a new job? You know this one makes such good money!”
“No, Mike. You don’t understand. You’ve never understood.” Kristen became quiet, but there was a storm of emotion brewing behind her eyes. “I mean that I can’t do us anymore. I think we need to just stop pretending this works anymore. We need to think about how to make it easiest for the kids, but I just can’t anymore.”
Kristen rushed out the door before her tears fell and before Mike could respond. He just continued to stand in the living room looking dumbfounded.
Kristen returned home the next morning excited for a few days off of work. She had cleaned up all the messes last night before she left for work, so hopefully she would be able to get a few more hours of sleep today, unless the kids run wild this morning.
She opened the door, this time to be welcomed by a very different sight. Mike was still home. And so were the kids.
“I took the day off. I figured we might need to talk.”
As the kids surrounded Kristen with hugs she looked at Mike with frustration. “Don’t you think daycare would have still been a good idea? How are we going to talk about anything? And honestly, my mind is made up, Mike. I don’t feel like talking. I just want to go to bed.”
“Okay okay okay I understand. But just hear me out. I’ll take the kids to daycare, you go take a nap for a few hours, but be up and ready by 2:00. We’ve got an appointment.”
Kristen didn’t even have the energy to argue so she stumbled off to the shower and went to bed.
2:00 rolled around and Mike stormed into the bedroom. “What are you doing?? I told you we have an appointment! Come on, get up! Hurry!”
“What are you talking about? What kind of appointment? I’m sleepy!!”
“At a therapist. We’re going to make this work. Our marriage can’t fail. We’ve got to figure out what’s going wrong so we can fix it.”
“Mike, there’s nothing a therapist is going to be able to do to fix you and I. It’s pointless.”
“At least try it, please. It won’t hurt anything!”
The car ride was silent. The air was thick and tense like a cloud about to burst open and release gallons of rain. When they arrived at the appointment Kristen could still barely hold her eyes open.
“I don’t know what went wrong with us. I didn’t even know she was unhappy! We’ve always had so much fun together. Lately we never spend any time together. And she’s glued to her phone these last couple of weeks. I think she’s got someone else if we’re being honest. I bet that’s where all of this is coming from. I refuse to believe that this all just came out of nowhere! Someone is feeding her lies about me.”
Kristen didn’t even know how to respond. Should she even bother responding at all to his ridiculous accusations? Mike just continued, more and more emboldened each time the therapist nodded her head.
“Kristen, would you like to share your feelings? You’ve been very quiet so far this afternoon.”
“Actually, I don’t think it’s going to make much of a difference. Nothing is going to be fixed with conversation. And frankly, this didn’t come out of nowhere. This has been building for years, but Mike is too blind to see it.”
Mike began to interject but the doctor stopped him and asked Kristen to elaborate.
“I am *tired* and don’t know how much more of this relationship I can handle. I work nights at the hospital 3 nights in a row, each morning I come home to a filthy house that I am expected to clean. I am made to feel lazy for sleeping more than a few hours. Mike can’t be bothered to lift a finger to help out around the house or cook. And heaven forbid we eat out because he’s ‘trying to be healthy.’ He wants date nights and for me to pay more attention to him, but he never once has given any attention to how I’m feeling. It’s just selfish. I feel like I have 3 kids, not 2! He didn’t even talk to me before he made this appointment. HE wanted it, and figured I would just go along with it because it was what HE wanted. And then to get here and accuse me of having someone else is just the final straw! You want to know why I’ve been glued to my phone, Mike?? I’ve been waiting for a call from the elementary school close to us. They had a job opening for a school nurse and I interviewed. I’ve been waiting to hear back from them. I heard back yesterday that I got the job and I accepted. Don’t look so disappointed. I know the job that was absolutely killing me meant so much to you because it made so much money, but I am SO TIRED. I never even see our kids anymore! And don’t pretend to be angry that I didn’t tell you about the interview. You make decisions for our family all the time without even consulting me, so don’t you dare act like I’m the only problem in this relationship.”
The room was still. The storm had finally broken. Mike started to speak, but Kristen pulled some papers out of her bag and handed them to him.
“I did some thinking last night, too. But I don’t think this is worth fixing. I found this lawyer and I’m going home to call him. I am done. I will not be returning to therapy with you. We need to make this easy for our children, Mike, so let’s don’t fight anymore. Let’s just be done and let it be.”
Kristen exited the office as one who had a weight lifted off of her shoulders. As she wiped the tears from her eyes she felt the first drop of rain fall before the downpour began.