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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Big Regret in My Marriage and How I Got Over It

I had a lot to learn about relationships and married life during the early years of my marriage. A few months ago, I wrote a little about my struggles and the book that helped me be a better wife to my husband. 

One of the things that kept me from feeling close to Chris was the regret I carried around for several years. It stayed with me, followed me around like my shadow, always darkening my way through my marriage. 


October 1997

Chris and I married young. We already had a young baby when we finally made our relationship official. We both worked, and had little debt and a nice size savings account. Chris worked in the restaurant business and was good at it. So it is not surprising that the opportunity for Chris to open his own restaurant presented itself within the first few years of our marriage. He asked me for my advice, and I gave it to him. 

I told him not to do it. 


I let my fear hold him back from his opportunity to be his own boss. He needed my support, and I couldn't give it to him. I was worried that we would lose the house that we had recently purchased. I worried that it would mean that we would have to wait to have another baby. I worried that if he tried and failed it would be hard to face our family and friends. I worried that my dream of being a stay-at-home mom would never come to be.

I was selfish, and I did not have faith that everything would work out for the best. 

He stayed the course of working in other people's restaurants and was promoted several times, eventually becoming an area supervisor of over twenty restaurants in our area. He is good at what he does, and I now have no doubt that he could have been a successful business owner. 

He never held my advice against me. But I held it against myself. 

Every time he came home tired from his job, I felt it. Every time he had a complaint about one of the restaurants he supervised, I blamed myself. Every time he made a negative comment about his commute, I would wince. 


April 2002

Finally, I couldn't bear carrying around my regret any longer. I had to talk about it. I needed to say out loud that I was sorry. That I was wrong and that I knew that he would have been successful. 

I asked him to forgive me. 


He told me that he didn't need to forgive me. He never looked back at that opportunity with regret. He didn't hate his job, nor his boss, and he was proud of all that he had accomplished. 


Finally, I was able to let go of my regret. Sometimes Chris still has a complaint about his day at work, but I know that he is just letting off steam and not suggesting that he is unhappy with me and my lack of support.

I learned my lesson, but only after several years of letting it interfere with my emotional connection to my husband. 


October 2012


Recently, I had a conversation with a friend of mine. She was explaining to me how there were several decisions in her life that haunted her, and she thought that she would never be able to forgive herself. She knew that living with the regret was negatively affecting her relationships, but she couldn't get past her regret. 

I felt so sad for her because I understood how she was feeling.

I am no expert, just a regular person who allowed regret to interfere with her life for too long before finally taking the steps I needed to move past my mistake. I hope that listing my steps here will help someone else move past any regrets that they may still be holding on to. 



My Steps To Moving Past Regret

1. Acknowledge why letting go of the regret is important. 

The guilt I felt every time my husband expressed irritation about his job, was keeping me from feeling close to him. I blamed myself and was sure that he blamed me, too. I needed to let go of my regret so that I could feel completely connected to him. 


2. Learn the lesson. 

I had to define my mistake, decide why I made it, and finally pinpoint what I learned from my decision. 

My mistake was not supporting my husband. I let fear of failure guide my decision. The lesson I learned is that I would take financial failure any day over the failure of my relationship with my husband. 


3. Accept responsibility. 

Once I learned the lesson of my mistake, I had to take responsibility for it. I needed to talk to Chris about it, explain why I did not support him, and ask for his forgiveness. Once I voiced my regret, it was no longer a burden that I was silently carrying around. It was out in the open, to be discussed and then discarded. 


4. Move on. 

After living with regret and the sadness that went along with it, it was a pleasure to be finally able to release the grief. I wanted Chris to forgive me, but ultimately I needed to forgive myself.  

I just want to talk about forgiveness for a moment because I think this is important to keep in mind. It was easier to forgive myself because Chris had already moved past it and kindly accepted my apology. 

But what if he refused to give me forgiveness? I would still need to forgive myself. My sorrow was real, and I accepted responsibility for my decision. Once I asked for forgiveness, it was time for me to move on. If he could not have forgiven me, that was his burden, not mine. 

Thankfully, that was not the case with my situation, but I wanted to mention it because I think that is important to remember. 



We all make mistakes. Hopefully, we learn from them and move on quickly. Regret is a burden that we do not have to carry around forever. Take the steps to move past regret, so that you can live a more wholehearted life. 

5 comments:

  1. This is a great post. It's so hard not to let guilt and regret eat you up. I think your point about forgiveness is especially important. I feel like the hardest person to forgive is myself.

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  2. This is a great post! Thanks for sharing Erica! I have definitely experienced feelings of regret in my life. Thankfully my husband and I have both moved past the big regrets that were weighing us down. I'm so happy you shared these tips! Glad you and your husband were able to work through this!

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  3. Such a good post Erica! It does seem like it can be so much easier to forgive others than to forgive ourselves!

    And I'm struggling with what you struggled with at the beginning of this post at the moment. DH wants to open his own small business and I'm trying so hard to trust that it will be okay but it's so scary!

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  4. Great post, Erica! It is definitely a hard lesson, but so important. I know I always imagine the worst possible outcome for so many things...

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  5. Beautiful post, Erica! You are a courageous and humble woman. I had a similar experience with my husband when he took a job that moved us away from our family. We have talked it through and are now trying to move "home."

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