When Life Turns Upside Down

My husband and I have been together since we were 18. The moment I saw him, I was immediately attracted and introduced myself to him. In college, after two weeks of really getting to know each other, he asked me, "You're going to be my wife, right?" In my heart, I knew we would be together forever.

I have fond memories of us in college at California State University in Fresno, eating frozen yogurt and Ramen, and spending long days and nights studying together. We supported each other in law school, got married when we were both 23, and shortly after passed the bar. I was ecstatic! It was the beginning of two wonderful careers and a great life as best friends together.

Within a few years of passing the bar, we both secured attorney’s jobs in Minnesota and purchased a starter home in a suburb of Minneapolis. Shortly after, we had two blessings…our two daughters.

Imagine my surprise when my husband came home from work one day and said, “I don’t want to be an attorney anymore.”

“What?!” I panicked. With two kids, a mortgage, and thousands of dollars in student loans, I asked, “What did you say?”

“I don’t want to practice law anymore,” he stated and explained that he was miserable being an attorney. Working 9 to 5 also wasn’t a good fit for him. “I want to eventually own my own business,” he said.

I was flabbergasted that he wanted to put aside his formal education. Personally, I loved every aspect of being an attorney, and thought he enjoyed it as much as I did. “You want to own your own business?” I asked with a puzzled look on my face.

“Yes,” he said. “In fact, I’m really interested in day trading.”

“You’re kidding, right?” I thought to myself, but I realized quickly that he was dead serious. I listened patiently as he explained his recent wins, his investment strategies and all he had been learning on his own. I tried not to reveal any alarm or anxiety, but my heart was racing. I imagined the worst: scams on the Internet, failed get-rich-quick schemes, a gambler’s high, and huge financial losses. So far, his day trading may have reaped some benefits for our family, but I was leery.

“Maybe this is a stage,” I consoled myself. It was the first time I felt like we weren’t on the same page in life. “Maybe he just doesn’t like his boss or work environment. Perhaps he’ll change his mind in time…”

After that discussion, we continued to plug along in life. My husband stayed at his job and performed his duties well, while pursuing day trading on the side. I still thoroughly enjoyed my career and wouldn’t change it for the world.

In time, our small home began to feel a little tight with the growing children. I had imagined choosing a new home in a quiet neighborhood in a superior school district. There would be an open great room for extra living space, bedrooms for everyone, and a combination guest bedroom and bath for visitors.

When I mentioned this to my husband, he asked, “Move to a bigger home?”

“Yeah,” I said happily. “You know, to have a little more space for the girls…and to settle down in a nice neighborhood?”

“Well…” he said reluctantly. His ideas for our family’s future were a bit different than mine. He wasn’t interested in purchasing a bigger home. “What do we need all that space for?”

The home in my mind’s eye was something I had always anticipated as a child. It was the conventional route of most professionals, and certainly one of the reasons I had worked hard to obtain a good education and well-paying job. But my husband had thoughts of conserving more than spending. He wanted to live below our means and not be stuck in a mortgage.

Since he began day trading, his ideas of owning a home had changed. He wanted to have the freedom to move if we ever wanted to and not be tied to any large financial obligations. He also explained his views of how purchasing a home wasn’t the best investment for us. “There are other ways we can use our money to get bigger returns than to sink our funds into a mortgage,” he said.

That feeling came back to me. We didn’t seem to be on the same page. My husband was re-arranging my preset concepts of a desired lifestyle. He saw that I was hesitant and smiled. “Honey, we really don’t need a big home,” he said. “All we need is each other.”

Real and Inspiring - Family Quote

I did agree with some of the things he said, but I was still averse to letting go of the big home.

One day, our family was enjoying a long weekend in California for a wedding, when I got a call from a relative. I learned that my mother had multiple melanoma, an incurable blood cancer. She needed to get a bone marrow transplant to prolong her life, and we were uncertain as to how long she had to live.

We visited Mom in the hospital and my heart sank seeing her ill. I held her hand and comforted her. I would’ve spent the entire weekend in the hospital if I could’ve, but our 3-day weekend soon ended and we needed to return to the airport to catch our flights back to Minnesota.

Facing my mom’s possible death was overwhelming. The ride to the airport was quiet; I was in shock. When we arrived at the airport, I did everything to control my emotions. Had we been in the comfort of our own home, I would have been balling uncontrollably.

We were standing in the security line at the airport when I felt my husband’s tap on the shoulder. I turned around and he looked at me with caring eyes. I didn’t want to lose it so I looked way. He pulled me close to him and held me tight.

“Honey…” he said softly. Hearing the compassion in his voice prompted tears to suddenly fall from my eyes, down my cheeks. One by one, his words descended into my consciousness as if in slow motion. “We’re going to quit our jobs and move back to California to help your mom.”

Before I heard and understood what he had said, I immediately felt a sense of relief. He knew exactly what my heart yearned for before my rational mind had a chance to process it all. I began to cry harder. The thought of living apart from my mom was too painful, knowing how much she needed us and how much I needed to be with her.

Real and Inspiring - Caring for Parents

There was little discussion around the decision. The next day, we moved forward with our plans to move to California. We informed our employers and sought a realtor to place our home on the market.

I was so grateful my husband knew exactly what to do and how to lead our family in that moment of truth. In his mind, there were no life distractions and no barriers to what he wanted for us and what he decided were our next steps. That moment I felt our hearts and souls aligned, our values in sync, and our lives centered on what matters.

It has been almost four years since we moved to California to be with my mom. A lot has happened since then. My mother was able to get a bone marrow transplant, which extended her lifespan, but her cancer has returned and she is currently undergoing chemo again. We remain hopeful in her complete recovery.

I was fortunate to be able to keep my job, as the law firm in Minnesota wanted to retain me as a remote attorney. On the other hand, my husband dove right into day trading. After only one year of building up his business, he developed a thriving career as a day trader.

Sometimes life takes you places unforeseen and causes plans to turn upside down. When that happens, hang on to your family. For me, the refining journey has only made life better. It has helped me see the brevity of life and how to live for what’s really important.

What is really important in life? What would make you happy?

For us, while it’s nice to enjoy our careers, and it helps to have savings and investments, my husband and I know what’s most important in life. Ultimately, living a fulfilled life is putting family first, above and beyond all other things. Taking care of family, building new memories, and fostering a close-knit bond is the best way we preserve and live our lives.

Truly, our lives together is a dream come true. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Anonymous – San Diego, California

Interviewed and written by Alyce Renee, Founder of Real & Inspiring

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