Kids Are Grown,

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Transcript

Transcript – Episode 44 – How Do You Decide Whether To Separate From Your Spouse – With Laurie Wright

Alice Agnello:                     

Hey Laurie, thanks so much for agreeing to be on the podcast today. I really appreciate it.

Laurie Wright:                    

You're welcome. I'm excited to be here.

Alice Agnello:                     

I know.

Laurie Wright:                    

We have so much in common.

Alice Agnello:                     

I know. We discovered each other through a Facebook group and we actually realize we live just a few hours away from each other. I always think that's the beauty of Facebook is I keep meeting more and more people that are in my state, or at least on the East Coast within driving distance and it's the craziest thing ever.

Laurie Wright:                    

Yes. I'm in this mastermind and it's not very many people. It's maybe a hundred people and it's in California. I went and somebody lives in my neighborhood.

Alice Agnello:                     

Oh my God. You didn't even know. That's crazy.

Laurie Wright:                    

No, I didn't know her at all. I just met her and I'm like, Oh well we live right by each other. Small world.

Alice Agnello:                     

That's crazy. Laurie, tell me a little bit about yourself and your background and your history and your family so we get to know each other a little bit better.

Laurie Wright:                    

Okay. I always like to say my age because I'm super proud that I'm 60 and still rocking it. Almost 61 but still rocking it. I have done a lot of different things in my life. I was in the corporate world for a long time as a project manager and that was kind of my livelihood where I was the breadwinner in the family. It kept me, I would say, I was content, but it wasn't like I was lit up doing it. So I think deep down inside I always wanted to do something else. But I was in this place where I felt a little trapped. So I just kept nose to the grindstone, had my kids, I had two amazing daughters who are now grown and they're in their mid thirties or one is in our upper thirties it's crazy. I have five grandchildren.

I've always been a learner and somebody who's always been interested in self help books. I loved Oprah and Dr. Phil and all those things where I'm learning about people. I love getting inside people's heads and try to figure them out and see what makes them tick. I'm always trying to help people. Honestly, in my project management life, that's what I did, kind of. I loved getting very different people together and I was in the technology sector. So you're dealing with different people, you're dealing with marketing people and you're dealing with developers and you were dealing with testers who are totally different because everything has to be perfect and they're always finding problems. And it was just very… I loved bringing people together for a common goal and think that's why I was content doing that.

But as I reached my fifties I started… It's funny, we talked before when we had our pre-interview that my kids were my everything. Even though I worked, my kids were top. I did quit when… I was waitress when my husband and I got married, my ex husband now, but we'll get into that in a bit. But I was very young and I had kids very young and when he met me I was a waitress. So I really didn't have any credentials whatsoever. So we kind of grew together and then I became the breadwinner. But my kids, when I had my first daughter, I quit my job because it wasn't paying that well and I was going to pay more for a babysitter. And I was like, why should I pay for a babysitter to go to work or pay to go to work? It was just crazy. And so I was like, I'm just going to stay home and I'll babysit kids, which wasn't the best job for me. But I wanted to be home with my kids.

I did that for three years and then it was like, okay, they'd be better off if I went back to work because I'm not the artsy, let's create Santas out of a paper plates. I wasn't that kind of person. It was my oldest daughter really was wanting to go, she said, I want to go to school and she was only three, but she wanted to go to a preschool. The other one was 18 months. So I found good situations for them and went back to work. My whole life was revolved around them. So as they got older I didn't miss any recitals. They got into sports. I didn't miss a game. We would travel on the weekends. They got very serious into soccer. I was very content in that life because they filled me up. They were my purpose. They filled my cup completely.

I never really thought, because I was working, nose to the grindstone and then raising them. That was no time for hobbies. So I never really had something that I loved doing on the side. I've always been interested in health and fitness probably because I was overweight as a preteen. So I always had this commitment to never letting myself, I'd lost 30 pounds when I was 13 and so I always had this real serious I'm just going to stay healthy. So I got into working out and doing that kind of stuff. But again, that was just something I did to keep myself healthy. It wasn't really anything. I never became an instructor or anything like that.

But then as I got older, it became… I wasn't happy in my job, less contented with it. I was with AOL for a long time and that was a really interesting company to work for and an interesting time because it was when the internet was just coming out and it was very fulfilling to be a part of that. After I left AOL, it was just kind of like I couldn't find anything that I really lit me up. Then my marriage was falling apart. My kids were off in college. They still come home, we're still kind of a family unit. So you're still kind of limping along in this. We're still a family unit, although they're getting more independent and more independent.

When I hit 47 is when it was like OMG. I just don't want to be married to this person anymore. I'm not in love with him. I don't think I'll ever, we were just like brother and sister. I went through probably about three years before that of all these thoughts going through my head. We had gone to marriage counseling a couple of times throughout our marriage. Worked things out. I was always really proud of myself because I thought… And I have a lot of judgment against people who are divorced because I worked so hard to stay married and we were really committed to our family. I used to always say we are the best CEO and COO of our family. But the passion just wasn't there. I got to the point in my life where I was like, do I want to live the rest of my life like this? No passion in my work, no passion in my relationship. I'm not needed anymore as a mother and as mothers, when you're not needed anymore, you're lost. Where do I go now for filling that cup? I didn't even know where to begin.

Alice Agnello:                    

Because that's all you've known for so, so long. Now they're out and now your attention almost has nowhere to go and it has to turn inward. Then you start. There's doubts and there's thoughts and you're trying to figure this all out and, as you said, all you're doing is stressing about trying to figure it out and you somehow can't figure it out. So when you were in this state, how did you, because I've had a lot of women who are kind of at that point and they're like, I'm not sure if I should take a step and start thinking about leaving my husband or my spouse or staying. What are the questions that you asked yourself or were there different signs that you thought that this is the right thing to do?

Laurie Wright:                    

Yeah. It was just, I think, a series of months and then years of just being alone but being in a marriage but being alone and knowing that I wanted connection with another human being. So I got to the point where I felt, because it's scary, everybody is scared, so scared. I had somebody reach out to me recently on Instagram. I inspire her because of… It was a picture that I did about my now husband and I and how passionate we are and I'm so grateful for that. She's not happy in her marriage but she said she feels so guilty and that her husband says she's his everything and he would be lost without her. So she's feeling like she's going to ruin his life.

I was just really honest with her and I said, and I'll tell this to all your listeners, is just because you want to separate doesn't mean it's the end. So many people think it's either or, and you have a choice. It's not just C or B, it's C or D or E. You're just saying… You're being authentic. You're living a lie if you're not living your best life and passionate about who you're with and what you're doing. It could be that you find a new path with each other. We did that a couple of times previously. So I knew it was possible. But I also knew that he wasn't happy because how could you be happy when you're not in an intimate relationship with your spouse. He was letting himself go and gained weight. I remember that we would go places and he would embellish things and I'd be like, wait a minute, why are you saying this? Because he was not at a good place in his life.

Alice Agnello:                     

Was it almost like he was going through some kind of midlife transformation or trying to figure himself out at the same time? It's almost like they go into, there's a depression, there's a sadness and it's like you can't reach them. It's almost like, I feel like you, you can't make that other person happy. They have to find the happiness in themselves first and then you can be happy together. But as you were saying, yeah, there's A and B and there's C, D, E, F, G. It just depends on your relationship with another person and how you guys want to move forward or not forward together. There's all different ways. I think that's what makes it scarier and more uncomfortable is that everyone always sees what other people are doing and they feel like they've got to fit in that box to feel like they're the normal person as well.

Laurie Wright:                    

I think with my age group is, my parents were married till my dad died. My husband's parents are still married. Divorce is not a good word. I stayed for a long time because I thought divorce was bad. I didn't want my kids to be divorced kids, even though they were grown. By the time we separated, my youngest daughter had graduated from college. They were both out of the house. But still that's like, what are we going to do at Christmas? What are we going to do at Thanksgiving? It's not a good situation no matter how old your kids are. So I felt, Oh my in-laws and I loved my in-laws and I loved my husband's family. It was like divorcing them and I just stuck around in this rut because I was caring more about other people than I was about my own life.

It got to the point where I was just like, okay, I'm more scared of staying than I am of checking the unknown because I can't live a passionless life. It was funny because I remember I had this thought that I was 47 I was like… We weren't intimate so we weren't having sex. I remember thinking this is okay at 70 but it's not okay at 47. I just want somebody to love. I didn't feel like… If he really loved me, he would express his love. I got to the point, too, where I felt I need to do this for the both of us.

So I gained courage and got over my fear by knowing it was something that needed to be done for the both of us and that I was freeing him from his misery. But he didn't know that at the time. I don't know if it's a men thing, but my ex husband too, in the previous times where we had the counseling, it was always me speaking up saying, we need to make it better. It's not working. Come on. Recognizing their was a problem that needed to be solved and taking the action to find the counselor and do the work. So I knew that nothing would change till I said, I'm done, I'm not doing this anymore. For me it was kind of like I knew… I basically came to the point where we've tried a lot and we always had a reason to stay for the kids. Now I'm tired of trying, it shouldn't be this hard. So that was kind of me.

I also had a relationship back in my college days that was pretty strong and I don't think I ever fell out of love with him. My ex husband was a rebound and he was the first guy I dated and we got married in eight months after my previous breakup. I had recently heard about my ex boyfriend. That was a door that I had shut, but it was kind of a wound that never healed. It's the best way to describe it. My only advice would be to anybody out there who, if you're younger and you're going through a relationship, close that door completely and get that wound healed before you move on to the next thing because it will continue to ooze.

Alice Agnello:                     

You'll always think about it because you didn't put the bow on it, you didn't finish it, you didn't, okay, push it aside and say, I'm done. But back to what you saying is that it's a very interesting perspective in the sense that you made the choice for both of you, because you knew that he wouldn't be the one to do anything for it. To have the perspective that if you did this, it might end up being that you could be happy and maybe he then would be even happier as well. To also know that you're worried about so many other things. Meaning, as you were saying, you're worried about his family and the kids and your friends and work and how much disruption is this going to be into your life.

But you weighed all of that against your happiness and you made a really brave choice to say, no, I'm going to deal with all of the things that I think are going to happen because you really didn't know what was going to happen. I also see women who get into the mindset of then they start stressing about Christmas and what do we do about birthdays and what do we do about Thanksgiving? It's all the logistics part of it. I always want to tell him, okay, that'll come. That is not what you need to worry about right now. You need to worry first about what you want to do and just take that step towards doing something in the direction that you want to go in.

Laurie Wright:                    

Yeah. Yeah, and it's interesting too, because our separation date, our legal separation date was November 3rd. I often regret it a little bit that I didn't stick through the holidays, but when I've expressed it to people, they said, well, why would you be wanting to go through the holidays living a lie and knowing you're going to be leaving, and that's even worse. I'm actually thankful because… I just did a post about it because it was coming up on the anniversary and I wanted to do a post that reached out and spoke to the people that were going through a difficult time and weren't with their families, weren't with their children. We can't always be with our kids. Even when they grow up to be adults, they've got in-laws that they got to spend time with.

But it was probably the worst or most difficult, I should say, not the worst, the most difficult Thanksgiving or holiday that I ever spent because I wasn't going to rock the boat. I was the one who was making the choice to leave. I let my ex husband have that time with the girls. Again, they're grown but they were single and they weren't married at the time. My parents were living in Florida and I got on a plane and went down and spent Thanksgiving with them. But my dad died suddenly the following June. So it was my last Thanksgiving with my dad. In hindsight, I would have not had that time with him and them. That just goes back to what you were saying is you're always thinking about excuses and why you can't do something. Well, I can't be by myself at Thanksgiving. I can't be without my children at Thanksgiving. But you have no crystal ball to see what the consequences of holding back and staying in that stuck place are.

I just took action. The sooner I got out of it, the sooner I was able to find passion and the sooner he was able to find passion. He was not happy at first because obviously his world turned upside down. The other thing, before I move off that, people think I can't afford to be on my own. What happens to the furniture? What happens to the dog? All this stuff works itself out. What is better, figuring out who has visitation rights for your dog or having a life that's worth living in the time you have left? We don't have a lot of time left and one life and you got to figure out how to do it right before the end.

He had a couple of relationships, but he's now married. He's been married for five years. If you saw her and met her, it's like how could he have been married to me all those years because she's very different than me, very opposite. But he's very happy and she's happy. Oh this is the other thing I want to say, too, is the blessing is I now am married to somebody who adores my children and they adore him and he goes out and buys them Christmas gifts on his own, doesn't even check to see what I approve of or anything. He opens stock accounts without asking me for all of our grandchildren. He never had kids. So they have this whole new family they wouldn't have had. Now they have this other stepmother and her family that they wouldn't have had. There are positives. They spent Thanksgiving with the other family and that family calls their kids their grandkids. You always are thinking, Oh, but when the kids are older, it kind of is like doubled, tripling, quadrupling the people in their life that love them.

Alice Agnello:                     

Exactly. I was going to say more love, more family and there's just better experience for everyone. Could you have imagined where you are today back then when you made that decision to say I've had enough?

Laurie Wright:                    

No, no, no, seriously not because I'm married now to the person that was in love with when I was in college. First of all, I thought I would be shutting the door permanently by reaching out to him and going to lunch and just having that closure. But it led to something beautiful. We've been married now 10 and a half years. He was a bachelor. He had never married, never found anybody else. That's because we had this amazing connection. We have never ever needed counseling. I think about my ex husband and I first went to counseling after six years. Now, granted, a lot of it's the dynamics with the family and the kids and all that stuff that you go through when you're in your 20s and 30s. It has been so easy. I just feel loved all the time. Yeah. I think I'm the luckiest person in the world, but I would have never ever known that if I had decided to stay afraid and stuck and not explored.

I know if it hadn't worked out with him, my ex husband and I might've gotten back together. Who knows? Who knows? He did get a lot of great counseling as a result of our separation. We're really, really good friends too now. We still had a house together. We couldn't sell our house because it's when all the stuff happened with real estate. So we rented the house for 12 or 14 years or something and we just sold it two years ago. My husband is a realtor and we were getting a three way call talking about, okay, what do we do? Going over contracts together. It was just interesting and I was like, Oh my gosh, I never thought I'd have these two on the same phone. We had two weddings with the girls and baby's born and been in the hospital together and it's been so amazing and easy. I also say I have the best ex-husband in the world. We were always, always really good friends.

So there's not bitterness, there's not anything. I'm so happy. That's why I really want to stand on a platform for… Just make a decision to take action, make a decision to say out loud, I am not happy and I deserve more and make a decision to do something frigging about it.

Alice Agnello:                     

That's the biggest, hardest statement to admit is to actually say it out loud that I'm unhappy and I need to go figure out why I'm unhappy and figure out how I can get to a better place where I want to end up being. It's interesting that you said that your ex husband then went and got counseling and he might not have done that if you hadn't have left because it's like you needed to push in something to figure something else out in his life to then make himself happy as well. I was curious, did you do any planning to kind of get a couple of steps in place before you did anything?

Laurie Wright:                    

I don't think I did any planning. It was more of a very quick decision. This is for a whole other podcast episode, but I do believe that my husband manifested me back into his life because there were conversations that happened and my name came up about three months prior. I was the one who reached out to him. He had a dinner engagement with a client and she was asking him about why he had never been married and my name came up. So she was trying to pursue me and find where I worked. We lived in different towns so it was a couple hours away. She actually did try to find me.

Six weeks later was my high school reunion. He and I didn't go to high school together, we went to college together, but we had friends that I went to high school with that he played rugby with. One of the guys he played rugby with was at my high school reunion and his name came up at my reunion. Once that happened, it was in my head and it didn't leave my head. That's when I was like, okay, it's time to make a decision. So him coming back into my head like that so strongly made me really say…

I think it was part of, because if you've ever had passion, if you've been passionate with your current husband right now, you can get that back. You just lost it and you just need to find your way back. I didn't want to die, honestly, without closing that door. The door was still cracked because he was still in my thoughts. I had a box at home that had his picture and some cards in it. I remember every time I moved out of a house to a new house, I see that box. I'm like, I should throw that away and I'm like, no, I don't want to throw it away. So I was still carrying that baggage around, literally-

Alice Agnello:                    

 Literally.

Laurie Wright:                    

Which is totally not fair to my ex husband, if you think about it because maybe I wasn't showing up because it's a two part deal. Maybe I wasn't showing up and I was a little distant and things. So I just took action because… I have been a logical minded person, follow my brain, I'm so proud of following. My brain knows what to do, my brain knows what to do and I've always suppressed my inner voice. I've really done a good job at suppressing my inner voice.

Job and career and, and mates, I decided I was going to start really following my heart and that's what I try to teach people to do now is just listen. Get quiet and listen to what your gut is telling you. What is your gut? My gut told me on my wedding day that I was making a mistake and I went through with it because I knew better and I knew this was going to be a good husband. I knew he was going to be a good dad. I knew that guy that I was dating in college was not ready and he was later, but that bites you in the butt when you get older and those things have a way of coming back. Fortunately he was ready and he was waiting and he had manifested me into his life and here I come.

It was a tough year, but it was an amazing outcome on the other side. They always say the magic happens outside the box when you get to the other side. It's always a journey. You're always learning and trying to be better and there's probably things I wish I had done a little differently. We're all good and we're all good and we did our best with what we had at the time.

Alice Agnello:                     

So if you had, again, that question from someone to decide, I don't know if I should leave my spouse or not, what would be something that you think that they should try and think about or wrestle with and decide upon?

Laurie Wright:                    

I would say is to start the conversation that you are not happy, you don't want to live the rest of your life like this. I expressed that to my ex husband prior. So it was not a surprise when I finally said I'm not doing this anymore and I wanted a legal separation. But, again, it was three years of processing and not being intimate. It's nothing overnight. It's nothing overnight. It's one step at a time and the first thing you have to do is be honest with yourself. Are you living life with passion, not only in your relationship but in the work you do? Because relationship does not solve the passion problem. It's a temporary passion problem. But I just knew that I wanted love. I wanted to be loved in a way that was significant and I wasn't getting that.

Then the whole having the wrong job is a whole different aspect. Having the right one is really what's lit me up the most. My husband and I, now, we've just fallen into this easy, we're used to each other. It's not like any crazy kissing passionate make out session like it was. But that was what was really fun is people think when they get to be 50, it was make out session. One thing I hated was being his girlfriend. I was a wife. I was married 26 years and I was a wife and I liked being a wife. Then, once I was separated, this is my girlfriend and I'm like, can we… What am I? I don't like that. It was a conversation in my Facebook group. There was a whole thread on what's a good name? My main squeeze. It was funny, everybody was coming up with different terms. So that was an adjustment. But I would just say you got to be honest with what you're feeling.

Alice Agnello:                     

You can't worry about what the other person is going to say or not say. You can't second guess that. You just will never know until you say something.

Laurie Wright:                    

I would just encourage you to do it for the both of you because that person, if you aren't happy in a marriage, the other person is not happy in the marriage. You could be doing something very amazing for both of you. It doesn't mean the end of the relationship. It just means a better and new level by the time you figure it out.

There's good counselors out there. I think the best way is find… In this day and age, it's just good to be vulnerable and open and just confide in somebody and ask for referrals. That's the best way to get a good person is ask for referrals. If anybody's affiliated with their church I know that is a good way. I, personally, my mother was a guidance counselor and somebody that she had worked with in the school system had gone into private practice and he was our first counselor and he was amazing. So when we went back 10 years later and needed more counseling, I called him. He wasn't doing any more private counseling, but he recommended somebody to me. So I think utilize your network and just confide in somebody and see if they have a recommendation.

Alice Agnello:                    

No, very well said. I have a couple of questions for every interview that I have. Tell me something not a lot of people know about you.

Laurie Wright:                    

I would say I got my pilot's license when I was 21.

Alice Agnello:                     

That's awesome.

Laurie Wright:                    

Yeah, and that was a breakup move because when my current husband, when we broke up, that was what I did. I was like, Oh, I'm going to show him. I'm going to go do something that girls don't do. I left school, I never graduated from college because of it, but I still managed to do well. I've always been really proud of that. What I would say to people is, friggin, if you're struggling in life, go do something that is challenging that you think you can't do and you will surprise yourself and it might be the best thing you ever did for yourself.

Alice Agnello:                     

Agreed.

Laurie Wright:                    

I always wanted to do something that wasn't normal for a girl. To prove to myself that I was capable. I'm not suggesting you go… That's the thinking. I was like 21 years old. Go do something crazy like take a lesson on how to play an instrument or just get involved in some way in something new and different because I think that really spices things up. If you need like to redirect and you're feeling stuck or frustrated, just do something challenging and not ordinary.

Alice Agnello:                     

I always feel like a door's going to open that you don't know about yet when you go and try that new thing for the first time. It just leads to other things that you can't imagine.

Laurie Wright:                    

And you're going to make new connections and meet new people.

Alice Agnello:                     

Exactly. Name three things that you can't live without other than your family and friends.

Laurie Wright:                    

Well, the first thing that came to mind is food because I like food. So I would say peanut butter probably first and foremost because I love peanut butter. Onions. I love onions. And I would say dogs, because I've always had a dog and I love my pets.

Alice Agnello:                     

Absolutely.

Laurie Wright:                    

Talk about unconditional love.

Alice Agnello:                     

Absolutely.

Laurie Wright:                    

So great. So food and pets. That's kind of like family though, isn't it? I guess a pet is kind of like family.

Alice Agnello:                     

Those things definitely go with family for sure. But I'll let you have them. If you could choose one song to play every time you entered a room for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Laurie Wright:                    

Okay, so people who follow me know that I am a big Hanson fan.

Alice Agnello:                     

Yes, I do know that.

Laurie Wright:                    

Yes. So Hanson, if your listeners don't know, if they don't have kids that are in their thirties and didn't follow these boys who are brothers, they are amazing and they still are making music and they're well known for MMMBop. But they did a song, I think it's about two or three years old now, but I'm still going to their concerts. I just went to one like a month ago. No longer being dragged, I'm like, can I go with you? But yes. I've been to a lot of Hanson concerts. But it's called I Was Born and you can Google it and find it on YouTube. It is amazing.

Alice Agnello:                     

This is why I love this question because I get exposed to new music that I didn't realize, so no, I'll definitely do that.

Laurie Wright:                    

What do you call it, the chorus or whatever?

Alice Agnello:                     

Yes.

Laurie Wright:                    

The name of the song's I Was Born, but then the chorus is, I was born to go, I was born to do, I was born to be, I was born to go somewhere nobody's ever been. I was born to be somebody nobody's ever been, do something nobody's ever done.

Alice Agnello:                     

That's cool. That's really cool.

Laurie Wright:                    

It's just the most empowering three and a half minutes. Before I do a call or before I do something I just listen to it. It's an amazing song.

Alice Agnello:                     

I always think the music does that for you. It gets you going. It has memories attached to it. It makes you feel good. I'm right there with you with music. So Laurie, if anyone wants to get in touch with you or learn more about what you do, how is the best way to get ahold of you?

Laurie Wright:                   

 So I'm Not Your Average Grandma on social media, so you can find me by just Googling, Not Your Average Grandma. I have a website, notyouraveragegrandma.com so those are the best ways.

Alice Agnello:                     

That's awesome. I love that phrase.

Laurie Wright:                    

Oh, and I'm launching a podcast. It's supposed to come out soon, but I haven't launched it yet. I will say I'm doing the shows on my Facebook page, my Not Your Average Grandma Facebook page, but it's called Not Your Average Lives. I love yours. I think that name is so great.

Alice Agnello:                     

Thank you.

Laurie Wright:                    

But Not Your Average Lives is where I highlight inspirational stories of midlife transformations.

Alice Agnello:                     

Ooh, that's awesome. I love it.

Laurie Wright:                    

So if anybody out there and they can reach out to Alice if they have a story to share or if they know of somebody who has story share.

Alice Agnello:                     

Thank you, Laurie so much. I really appreciate you being on the show.

Laurie Wright:                    

Oh, thanks so much.

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The guide will help you:

→  Work on your mindset so you can recognize negative thoughts and work to quiet them.

→  Help figure out what’s bothering you and know it’s okay to go at your own pace.

→ Understand that taking care of yourself is the most important person in your life and to release the guilt.

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