Without You

photo courtesy 1000 Words Photography
Solo parenting is grueling work.

Because of his new job, Corey has been home only four weeks since August. The kids and I are finding our stride, learning how to thrive in this environment instead of just survive it. This is my life; to grit my teeth and push through with grim determination would be to despise the gift.

But there's no denying it's exhausting to parent four kids alone, day after day after day. I'm the only adult around to make the meals, break up fights, give the baths, read the books, laugh at the jokes, listen to the stories. It's just a lot to do, and most nights, I fall into bed thoroughly spent.

But I have found something that makes solo parenting even harder - the dryness of being disconnected from my spouse.

I fist noticed the parched surface of my own soul in September, about the time I wrote this post. I felt weary to the core, drained. A Southern friend might say plain tuckered.

To be sure, no one expects to have loamy top soil in this stage of life. This is the time of sowing and weeding, a season of work. But I started to notice it wasn't just the surface that was parched. My well was dry. There was no refreshment in the deep places.

And that's when I realized: I miss my husband. I don't just miss his help with the kids or his companionship at the end of a long day. I miss him. I miss our closeness, I miss our jokes, I miss the knowing and the being known. We were growing apart, as quietly and steadily as two boats without oars.

This realization hit me like a bolt.

Corey and I are good at living separate lives. We did it for years before we had kids. He worked long hours for his job, I worked weird hours for mine. We drifted. We got used to being roommates. We grew accustomed to a dry, barren relationship. We could function as a team to take care of the house, pay the bills, even lead the young marrieds class at church. But there was nothing behind the mask.

We didn't like it; no one gets married and hopes for an empty shell of a relationship. But we accepted it as normal. Everyone has struggles, right?

And then God used a variety of circumstances to burn our false front to the ground. Nothing remained but ash. We mourned, with broken hearts and deep humility.

Funny thing about firestorms, though: they leave behind fertile ground. When the new growth began to appear, we could scarcely believe the blessing of a second chance. The last nine years have been the best of our marriage, because now we know that we squandered our first 10 with indifference and resentment. Now we know what can happen if we aren't intentional about letting God deal with us, if we aren't intentional about staying connected. If we don't love each other well.

I say all this so you understand my horror when I recognized the dryness of my soul. It wasn't because I was busy (I was) or the kids were whiny (they were) or I wasn't getting enough sleep (I wasn't). The underlying problem, the root of it all, was the lack of togetherness with my spouse. Nothing could make up for that, and without it, nothing else seemed to work.

Thankfully, once we had a diagnosis, Corey and I were able to tackle the problem together, and today, we are working on keeping connected even while apart. We don't want to go back.

After 20 years together, even in the lean seasons, he is the other half of me.

Maybe this is what is meant when God says he'll make you one.

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  1. Oh Kelly. I can so understand this and I hope the two of you can also find a way to thrive in this season. It is SO HARD to be apart so much. This I know. Praying for you!

  2. I feel like holding my breath. This is real. I am going to be praying him home for you.

  3. Thanks...from one woman to another... your words spoke straight to my heart. What an awesome testimony!

  4. Hello Kelly - thankyou so much for sharing this with us. I have tears in my eyes because there is so much here that resonates with me and my circumstances. I know I will come back and read this entry over and over again - it makes sense to me, and often there is so much in my life that doesn't. Now I need to take a deep breath, pull myself together and get my girls out to school and swimming for the morning...it's only 8am here in eastern Australia :). Kind regards, Kirrily.

  5. Such good words lady! I can barely handle being apart for a few days. I like my husband. I guess when we do, it makes the distance harder.
    Love you friend!

  6. This is a good word, Kelly. Learning here, as always, from you.

  7. Thank you for this post. I am a single mom who can only dream about being married. Not just because I want more kids, help around the house or the added security of another adult to shoulder bills etc. I want to be in love with someone I would miss if they were gone.

    I usually hate to hear married women saying they feel like single parents. Still I can recognize the pain of being alone when that is not what you signed up for.

    It is nice to read that you are working together with your husband to stay connected while you remain apart in person.

  8. Oh, Kelly. I totally get this. Totally. It's such (SUCH) hard work to stay connected during long separations, and I haven't yet done it well. Praying for you and Corey as you navigate this newest firestorm.

  9. I'm sorry love. Hoping it gets deeper and better soon.

    I know you are be plum tuckered out =)

  10. Your honesty here is so helpful. I am sorry things are tough and dry right now, but your hope and candor are bright. I think this is how marriages survive decades. I think it how young marriages should be mentored. I'm grateful for your words here, and not so much the confession as the specific truths.
    Lean times come - here is exactly what they look like. (for us)
    Lean times are not the end.
    Marriage takes work BUT here is SPECIFICALLY how it has been work for us.
    Lean can lead to plenty, here is how that looked for us.
    We did it before and can do it again.
    Implied message? So can you.
    I am not thrilled that you are struggling, Kelly, I would never wish that on anyone. But I hope you can see what a tremendous gift you are giving the rest of us while you work toward a better place.
    God Bless.

  11. I feel compelled to comment, but I don't know what to say...
    I know this, too.

  12. I hear ya on the busy lives thing. We have to be intentional about making time for ourselves as a couple due to everything we have going on.