Divorce

My First Divorce Story

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Divorce One.

We never get married, thinking we are going to get divorced. Or believe the statistics of fifty percent of American marriages will end in divorce, and each subsequent, the percentage gets higher.

I never thought I would get married twice, to be divorced twice. Both marriages, I had dreamt of growing old with my spouse; the grandkids coming over for Christmas; my partner and I dancing in the kitchen laughing at something the other one said. I am a hopeless romantic, a dreamer.

I never thought I would be 38 and divorced twice.

My first husband has his own story, his own perception, and his own truth about what happened. I cannot speak for him, nor is this to bash him. This is just my reality. He is a good person, a great dad, and I have nothing but good intentions for our relationship as co-parents.

In the moment of divorce, they become the devil; they are awful humans. You are hurt, lost, angry. Eventually, you realize you did have a journey with someone, and it was not all bad. I can say that about this marriage. We had a life together; we had fun together. It took me a few years to get to this point. We had beautiful children together; we built homes together. We grew up together. Lessons were learned, positive and negative.

My ex-husband is currently married to a lovely woman. I now am mature enough to say she is perfect for him. I tell my children this, too. They are perfect for each other. Everything I could not be for him, she is. She allows him and me to be parents to our children.

We were young. We got married six days after I turned 22. He had just turned 24. Looking back, I think it is too young to get married. Some do just fine, but I believe in finding yourself fully before becoming part of someone else. 

We had a good run, and our marriage lasted ten and a half years. We went through so much together. Alex adopted my daughter when she was three years old; we lost a baby named Brooklyn right after we got married, we bought houses together, we moved to Arizona, Nevada, Florida, and Texas, and we were broke.

We had three babies, crazy in-laws, and lives to create. We became full-fledged adults together. We also had a ton of fun and laughs. We started to do little vacations. We loved watching football and playing fantasy football, drinking beer, and frequenting Vegas nightclubs.

Our wedding in 2005, Las Vegas, Nevada

We had a cute little family; we worked hard together. I can say I absolutely loved him. I am a completely different person now, as is he. I know this to be true. Sometimes, though, when you get married so young, and you grow up together, you are also growing apart. Personalities start to blossom, likes, interests, and priorities tend to pull apart and when you come into your own as a full-grown adult, that is when the cracks start to show.

I first met Alex when I was 20. Alex worked at 24-hour Fitness in Las Vegas. He was tall, dark, in crazy shape, and handsome. I went to the gym to see him. This particular 24-hour Fitness had two stories, and I would sit upstairs on the bike and watch him in the sales area. Total creeper; I had the biggest crush.

One night, I was out with a friend, and I ran into him at the Hard Rock Casino during a live MMA Fight Night. Alex had sunglasses on in the casino…at night. (Insert eye roll here.)I had a little too much to drink at that point and went right up to him and told him I had been crushing on him for months at his place of work. He turned out to be a complete jerk. I even told my coworker what an a-hole he was, but I will probably end up marrying him. I went to dinner with him a couple of times, but we did not click right away. Especially after him picking me up in his purplish-blue BMW, strike two.

I ended up dating a UFC fighter that lived in California. I dated him for maybe three months, and well, he was not the sharpest tool in the shed. I saw Alex in the gym one night. We laughed, talked, and went to dinner. He informed me that he was being transferred to Phoenix, Arizona, for a while. 

He showed me this big, beautiful home he had purchased in a posh area of Scottsdale. He invited me to come to check out Arizona. After he flew me out, he informed me he had, in fact, bought the home with a woman at dinner. He and this woman’s home were built, but he said it was so far from the Phoenix area that we could stay in downtown Scottsdale and have some fun.

He was at a loss at what to do; he had fallen in love with me and would not move in with her. I was crushed. I wanted to go home immediately. Even though we never discussed the level of our relationship, I still felt betrayed. It felt so wrong. I left the next day.

Alex broke it off with the woman he bought the house with, put the house up for sale. Long story short, I moved to Arizona for him with my daughter, who was about two years old at the time. Leaving Las Vegas was a step toward independence for me. It was a good thing.

Alex rented us a three-story townhome in Scottsdale, and I worked for a family friend, making a whopping $8.00 an hour. My daughter attended preschool for the first time, and we got a golden retriever that just passed a couple of years ago. We all walked to Einstein’s Bagels down the street every Sunday in our Aeropostale sweats and began a little life together. I made it a mission to become a family, create a life with him, and hopefully be his wife one day.

My daughter, Morgan and Tyson, our first Golden

Five months into being together, my daughter was in Las Vegas with my parents, and we went horseback riding. Alex’s first time on a horse. He knew I loved horses and grew up competition riding. We went on a long trail ride, and he proposed on the horse. It was beautiful and thoughtful.

We planned our wedding shortly after to be held in Las Vegas because all our family and friends lived. I found out I was pregnant with our first baby. I was three months pregnant when we got married.

The day before the ceremony, we got in a nasty, vicious fight, I do not even remember what it was about, and we almost called off the wedding. The wedding was beautiful but a blur. We left the next day for our honeymoon in New York City.

After our whirlwind wedding and honeymoon, we went back to Phoenix with Morgan, my daughter. She was about to start Kindergarten, and we purchased a new home three miles from the new stadium where the Cardinals play.

My pregnancy was rough. I suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum, a form of severe morning sickness. I was sick, I was depressed, and I slept constantly. The pregnancy was sucking the life out of me.

The pregnancy did not feel right. The amount of depletion was excessive. October 25, 2004, I did not feel our baby move for quite a while. I called the doctor and was told to drink cold water, do this, do that. I knew. We were going over an overpass to the hospital that night, and I started balling. I knew our baby had died. Our baby was stillborn at 34 weeks pregnant. She was almost five pounds and could have survived outside the womb.

Baby Brooklyn

We had to bury our tiny baby. The whole process of transferring a body to another state was traumatizing. We buried Brooklyn Taylor, in Las Vegas, in a little white coffin. Most devastating and heartbreaking experience. This happened only four months after we got married. We immediately wanted to move back to Las Vegas after that. We moved into my parent’s guest house, bought a big home during the infamous economic bubble of 2005-2006.

Tayla, our second baby, came shortly after Brooklyn died. She was born on August 27, 2005, two days before my daughter Morgan’s birthday. Alex and I had the best time raising her together. He was excellent at taking half responsibility for the children. 

While Tayla was pretty small, we both started school at the University of Nevada- Las Vegas. We graduated the same day oddly because we both had different years and degrees to complete.

It was a pretty great thing to graduate with a family—with tiny children—together. I can say as a married couple, that day was one of our bigger accomplishments together. While we worked on our degrees, we swapped off and guest taught for the Clark County School District. We were broke, paying a mortgage while taking care of small children. It was an accomplishment; it was hard work, we were happy.

We lived in Las Vegas for a while more. He ended up going back to 24-hour Fitness in Las Vegas. I thought he would get out of the industry, seeing as we worked so hard getting degrees and sacrificing so much.  

Going back to the gym industry brought insecurities, ex-girlfriends, long hours, women, constant temptation, and we were in Las Vegas where strippers needed to work out for their job. Women are beautiful, seductive. When this happened, I started to feel disconnected; I felt inferior in our marriage, and we started to do our own thing slightly more.

My daughter, Morgan, was three at our wedding.

Alex got a call from an old friend stating an opening for a 24-Hour Fitness needing to be turned around in Pembroke Pines, Florida. The pay was amazing, the bonuses incredible. I could go back to school and not work, and I could get a master’s then on to a Ph.D.

Alex accepted, and my family and his family were distraught. I was not thrilled, but I do not love Las Vegas, and I honestly have been trying to leave since I was a child. I think with the death of the baby, her being buried there, the trauma of it all made me ok with momentarily fine with living there. My goal was to move to Texas eventually.

I stayed behind for a couple of months so Morgan could finish school, I could pack up, sell things, and rent the house out. I stayed in my brother’s house; he and his wife had just moved to Costa Rica. My poor mom and dad. We all left at the same time.

In Las Vegas, along with the kids, I had a major hesitation about moving to Florida. Our marriage was disconnected. I did not want to live my life around the gym industry. I did not need the worry, and we were fighting regularly.

I thought seriously about not going. I look back to this day, and I perhaps could have saved myself a whole lot of trouble. My dad and his extremely old-school ways convinced me to go; I needed to work on my marriage. Florida was the beginning of the end.

Florida, I cried every day. I wanted to leave. I wanted to get out. I often left with the kids to New York City for a few days at a time. I tried to position myself to possibly move there and make connections in the museum or academic industry. I would have thrived in New York; however, rent and cost of living are asinine.

I was always trying to get out of Florida; I traveled just to get away. I stayed at home to finish my degree. I cried. I was miserable there. When I went to my best friend’s wedding by myself, I felt alone in my marriage. There was no effort to come to Colorado to a wedding I was the Maid of Honor for. I had to somehow get out of Florida and begged him to be transferred to Texas for the sake of my sanity and the stability of our marriage.

We were in Florida a year and a half, and I tried so hard to like it. It is just wasn’t for me or where I wanted to raise my children. We moved to Texas. I bought a beautiful home in a quaint town called Trophy Club, had a baby boy, and I had just graduated with my master’s from the University of Oklahoma. All was going well. Alex still worked for 24-Hour Fitness.

After I graduated, my dad, an extraordinarily successful businessman who built Las Vegas, suggested starting a small business after graduation. To this day, I hate that my dad saw success for me, that I was capable. That he was willing to help me start my own business as a wife and a mother.

He had that confidence in me, and it kills me to this day I messed it up. The plan for a business was to start something I could work a regular job, raise my kids at home, and have someone run the business. Yet small enough, I could oversee everything, like a Great Clips or Postnet, something along the lines of those franchises.

I researched, excited. At first, I thought about Dunkin Donuts, even a children’s museum (which I regret the most, I had the best ideas and was educated on museums). Alex suggested we explore fitness franchises.

As my husband at that time, it did not seem like a bad idea. He was in the fitness industry for years and years. He had worked for 24-Hour Fitness for many years. I started looking into small gym franchises like Anytime and Planet. Crunch Fitness started franchising that year. We researched it immediately. I figured I loved to work out; Alex knew the ins and outs of the industry and could run it.

Perfect. We could work as a couple, build a second life together.

Wrong.

Pipe dream.

The biggest mistake of my life thus far. I lost all my money, family money, and a husband, and subsequently a second husband. I will write a blog post on it eventually; it still stings, and it is embarrassing even though I blame my ex-husband. It will take a ton of emotional and mental strength to do so. 

The gym is the demise of my marriage and the life we built. We were divorced within a year of opening, including the grace period in Texas to get divorced.

Alex and I were the first 10 brick and mortar for franchise Crunch Finesses. We bought the territory for 10 Dallas Fort Worth locations and were on top of the world. My dream of a husband-and-wife team was dashed when Alex immediately hired his buddy to run our gym, though he and I were to run it. That was a huge mistake for him to make. It was a kick in the gut.

We did not agree on anything, and he took completely over. It was no longer my business, nor did I have any say. I was the bank. I believe the gym and ownership went to his head. I began feeling neglected, I began feeling invisible, and I started to believe he was cheating. I do not know that I am 90% sure he began cheating when the gym opened, if not before—no excuse for my behavior. I started texting a man, getting attention. I met him for dinner one night; I did not like him and hated my behavior even more. Nothing went beyond dinner. I cringe even writing this.

Alex found out. I begged for him to forgive me, and I went in overdrive to fix it. Crying and pleading as someone died.

We started marriage counseling. We talked about rough times. I am an advocate for therapy and counseling. No good came out of our sessions. I worked hard to repair my marriage but was not met with the same enthusiasm by Alex. I was trying my butt off, let me tell you. I loved that man, hoping it would make us stronger; everything got way worse.

I fucked up. I did. I take ownership of it. However, do not take someone’s guilt and shame and use it to your advantage. This happened. We were going to marriage counseling for about two months, hardcore.

I seemed to be getting the butt end of it, and I felt that, while I wanted a solution and a stronger marriage, to be noticed by my husband, to be put first before a gym, I was getting the opposite.

Alex sat in the counselor’s office, stating he needed more “guy time” that I hated him going out and gave him a hard time. He wanted to see friends in other states without me that I needed to let loose. The counselor told me I need to let him do these things and make guy nights and trips. To let go of the insecurity.

It was all a manipulation for his cheating. I sat and agreed to all this. Yes, of course. I will do whatever it takes to save my marriage. I was punished for months and made out to be a monster that did not care about her marriage but was getting cheated on over and over for some time. Way before I even thought about it. The worst is that Alex manipulated me to cheat further because I was “insecure.” No, it was a gut feeling.

Easter weekend, Alex went to Vegas with our daughter. She was about 10 at the time. He insisted she stay at my parent’s, but he did not want to stay there because it felt “awkward,” and he did not want to interrupt their time with our daughter. He was going to hang out with friends and just wanted to do his own thing.  

Ok, breathe.

Yes, go to Vegas; my parents are aware you are there, your daughter is with you. How can you cheat in those circumstances? He called me several times between activities, a covert attempt to cover up what he was actually doing.

Telling me he loved me and could not wait to come home to see me. While he was gone, I had the house repainted and a new sofa delivered; I wanted him to come home to me and a fresh place.

Easter morning, he showed up at Easter brunch to celebrate with my parents and our daughter. My dad said he was distracted and rude not to get off his phone. He was giggling at the screen and not paying attention to anyone.

I had surprised him with a new large sectional sofa and had painters come to paint the house—all in a weekend. My thinking was, I want my husband to be home, I want this to be his home, I want this to feel like home.

I went to New York City shortly after with my best friend. Something was off, and something did not feel right. It was nagging at me the entire time. I was trying so hard to show my friend the city I love so dearly. We did have a great time, but my mind was preoccupied. I needed to go. I left my poor friend alone in that big city. Of course, she is independent and made the best of it.

I went home. Just a nagging feeling something was off. I had a feeling to check the Sprint account. Immediately, I saw calls for 36 minutes, an hour, all day, every day.

Same number.

My body got hot; I went flush.

My brain was spinning. This is the worst feeling in the world. My husband had sex with someone else, and it is not leaving or changing. The feeling that you wish it never happened. I knew. I knew exactly. I went to my closet and called the number.

A woman answered.

“Who is this? Who the fuck is this? Why are you talking to my husband? Why the fuck are you talking to my husband? Do you know he has three kids? We have been married for ten years! Did you fuck him?” I said, “Woman to woman, did you have sex with my husband?!” I did not get any answer. I hung up.

Spinning.

Shaking.

I call my parents, having a panic attack. Somehow, I felt like this was karma. No, this affair had been going on for a while. He had slept with that woman and showed up to brunch with her still on him.

All while I was told by the counselor and manipulated by him to “let go.” It’s all me, not you. I am the insecure one, the texter, the cheater. He manipulated me into believing it was all me but set up for him to continue an affair at the marriage counselor’s office.

The nerve to sit at Easter brunch with my parents and daughter. That part is what I still cannot believe.

Alex moved out shortly after to a friend’s house. I told him to come home and fix it. He chose to travel, go out, and party. Our marriage was not worth fixing to him. I had seen a lawyer. He told me he was going to California one weekend, and I told him if he goes, that’s it. I am not sure if he believed me. He came back and was served in the parking lot of our business.

He texted me and said, “Thank you.”

Ten years, babies, a life built, and that was his response. Our actual divorce process was pretty simple and fast. I had to pay him out of the marriage. UNFORTUNATELY, since I was all the financial backing to the gym, I got the gym, something he wanted badly. I was handed a 23,000 square foot gym, 20 staff members, and rent of $31,000 a month. Let that sink in.

No background in the industry or management. It was not easy. I lost a ton of unhealthy weight and had to learn to run a massive business overnight.

We have never gone back to court since our divorce. We have 50/50 custody, no child support, but my lawyer messed up by not informing me what “maintaining” the insurance means. It means I have to pay for the kid’s health insurance completely. At that time, I was a business owner, and private health insurance is over $750 a month for three kids.

Ask questions, even if it takes a bit longer in a divorce. He and I have it worked out currently with our own plan, but that was not fun to pay for. My lawyer should have gone over this. Find a lawyer that honestly has good communication and explains things. Mine was a hotshot Southlake, Texas lawyer I never saw after my $10,000 retainer was deposited. Ask questions! Scan those documents a million times.

People always ask if I think we would still be married if we did not open the gym. Maybe? But the gym exposed our weaknesses as a couple. It exposed our inability to cooperate and work together. The gym was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was regretful, felt guilty, and knew we made a massive mistake.

I met my second husband shortly after our separation and dated him until we got divorced—another mistake. I should have never dated or seen anyone until my divorce was finalized. I tell people now, heal first. Be single for a bit, find yourself, let your kids heal too. My second marriage was a complete and utter disaster.

The start of the gym was a series of bad choices, selfishness, and almost five years of constant stress physically, mentally, financially, and emotionally. If I did not have kids, it was so much stress I would have taken my life over it. And I do not say that lightly. It was that bad.

Today, I am happy, healthy, and the most content I have ever been. I am single; I have found myself, do not have a gym, and live my life. Being happy means different things to different people, but I can say I am happy. At this very moment, I am happy. I have worked my ass off to get here and made huge progress in myself and my kids. It was not easy, but I am here.

What I learned.

I want to reflect on what I did to contribute to the demise of our marriage. It takes a lot of reflection, self-awareness, and honesty with yourself to realize that it takes two, and I played a part. It has taken me a few years since our divorce to realize my faults, what I did and did not bring to the table.

In my second marriage, I am hesitant in coming up with how I played a role in its demise, and when that story is told, you can be the judge.

Alex is a very thoughtful person. For our fifth anniversary, he had a replica mini cake made and brought it all the way to California, where we were attending a conference for his work. He had carried it all the way through the airport and had room service set it up with flowers. It was things like this that I did not fully appreciate. That took a lot to do. It was small but extremely thoughtful. I should have paid credit.

He is a wonderful, involved father. He adopted my daughter at three years old and took on her father’s role even today. In the end, I started seeking out male attention. I was not getting any from my marriage because of the gym and his priorities shifting. I regret that to this day. I am not a cheater, and I basically cheated. Now do I believe I got caught first? Yes, but I believe Alex was cheating long before. It does not make it right.

Alex was a kind man; I have a hothead, and I approached things with anger and a bad attitude to get my way. I learned how to approach situations better. I learned I do not have to be so tough. It works with some things, but it does not with marriages.

He is a very passive person, a nice guy if you will, and I took advantage of that. I am a person. If I do not want to do something, I will not. Flexibility goes a long way. Even if it’s here and there. Yes, the gym exposed our weakness as a couple. I can blame him for the gym situation and losing almost everything, but I believe things would have been different if we had a strong marriage.

If you are going through and divorce or just divorced, you can rebuild your life to peace and happiness. If I can, you can. I am the happiest and content I have ever been.

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