When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned: Karlee

Karlee and I played soccer together growing up. She was always very kind and I am grateful she was willing to write about her divorce. I haven’t experienced divorce for myself, but I FEEL that these people are too often judged too quickly, or assumptions are made when they shouldn’t be. I hope this can help us be slow to judgment and quick to show forth love.

Karlee and her husband have been married for about 3.5 years. They have a two-year-old son and a three-month-old daughter that bring them more joy than anything. They are a Utah Utes loving family and love going to the football games together. She enjoys diet coke, sushi, naps, and warm weather.

Photo by Alicia Bass

I remember, as a teenager, making a list of qualities I wanted in my future husband. I wanted him to be respectful, kind, have a sense of humor, have a strong testimony, take me to the temple, among many other qualities on a long list. I had high expectations for my future husband! But the truth is, I doubted I would ever find someone who met my expectations who could ever truly love me completely. I was insecure and didn’t see my worth. I hoped I would find a good man to marry someday, but didn’t really see that happening for me. This caused me to base a lot of my thoughts about myself on the way guys treated me. If I wasn’t getting asked on dates, I filled my mind with lies about myself; I must not be pretty enough, smart enough, funny enough, and so on.

After graduating high school, I moved to St. George to attend what was then Dixie State College. I had recently updated my “future husband list” and had it hanging in my room as a reminder of the type of guy I wanted to date and the type of guy I hoped would want to date me. I didn’t date much my first semester there, but at the end of that first semester I reconnected with and began dating an acquaintance from high school.

This acquaintance and I had one class together when I was a sophomore and he was a senior in high school. The extent of our friendship at the time was being friends in class, me attending his mission farewell, and writing back and forth a little bit while he was on his mission. He was always the funny, outgoing guy. He was well known, a student body officer, he was smart, and he was intriguing to me. When he got home from his mission he showed interest in me, and I thrived on the positive attention he gave me. On paper, everything seemed perfect. He checked off many, if not all, of the qualities I had listed and hanging in my room. We were married just shy of a year later.

At first, I thought we had a good marriage. In hindsight, I can see how immature our marriage was (on both ends) and how many red flags I pretended not to see. It wasn’t until one night when we had been married for just over a year that the spirit led me to find things that were happening that I hadn’t been aware of that was very damaging to my self-esteem and to our marriage. For the next year, we met with our bishop and attended counseling weekly, trying to save our marriage. For a long time, I struggled to know if I should stay married. We had made covenants in the temple and I didn’t think Heavenly Father would let me feel like divorce was the right thing for us. Eventually, though, more things came to light that made reconciliation nearly impossible. It was then that I finally got my answer, and we both agreed that we needed to get divorced.

There were times I struggled with understanding why Heavenly Father let me feel like getting married was the right decision in the first place, or why it took as long as it did to get the answer to get divorced if that’s what was meant to happen anyway. There were times I felt so alone. I was so young, many of my friends hadn’t even gotten married yet, and here I was, married AND divorced. I found comfort in praying, surrounding myself with loving, nonjudgmental friends, and attending the temple. It didn’t come immediately, but soon I realized that I was never alone. Heavenly Father had been with me throughout this whole experience. He knew I had a lot to learn, especially about myself.

This experience, although so challenging at the time, has become a huge blessing in my life in so many ways. I learned that if I was single forever, I would be ok. I could choose to be happy regardless of my situation. I learned that good people struggle with addictions or other hardships and it’s what they do with their experiences that really matter. I became less judgmental of those who struggle with addictions. I got a glimpse of myself as a wife. I was able to make changes I wanted to make in myself, but also realize I was a good wife that gave my marriage 100%. I gained a stronger testimony of, specifically, the Holy Ghost, prayer, and the Atonement. I realized the Atonement isn’t just for those who sin, it’s there for everyone who experiences sadness, pain, or any affliction. It ironically made me realize what I deserved. I became less critical of myself, which is a huge blessing in itself. I learned to trust in Heavenly Father’s timing. He had a plan for me, and this was all part of His plan.

When I moved home from where we had been living, I needed to find a new job. It was at that job that I met a girl who is now my sister-in-law. She eventually lined me up with her brother, Sam, who is now my husband. This was another blessing in disguise. Sam was different in many ways in the most refreshing way. He is quiet and reserved. He’s an avid sports fan and he especially loves his Utah Utes. He never, not even once, judged me for my situation. He is a wonderful dad to our two beautiful children. His testimony strengthens mine. Our marriage isn’t perfect, but it’s a happy, healthy marriage. When I look at my little family, I thank Heavenly Father for blessing me with that trial. It led me to something so, so good. He lovingly allowed me to experience something so hard, something I never would have chosen to experience, to help me grow in personal and spiritual ways that I am forever grateful for.

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