Sometimes these are the difficult moments that prompt us to take action, both to save ourselves and our relationships. We wondered how these tough spots were resolved for real-life couples. We talked to three women about the turning points that changed their love lives forever.
Real-life wife Jen, 34, tried everything to make a past relationship work. After it ended, she wasn't ready to date again... until she met Chris.
"In my past relationship, there were so many red flags I would ignore," she says. "I tried really hard to talk myself into making it work, trying to get him into counseling with me — everything I could think of to prevent it from ending. But one day he was on one of his tirades and was angry and calling me names, and then he threatened to leave me for the fifth time since we had been together. In that moment, I knew I could never trust him. We were buying a house together and I wanted my name on the title, and he called me a gold digger for that. I just knew in that moment that after two years of it, he was never going to change, that he was bringing me down with him and that he needed help I could not give him.
"When I met my now-husband, I had just come out of that relationship and I was not interested in having another one. But I met a man named Chris through work. We had instant chemistry, and I tried to ignore it. The more we talked, the more honest I was with him that I could not handle a relationship. He patiently waited — and he didn't give up."
Jen's turning point: "I knew I had to marry him after our first disagreement. He was upset, I was upset, and I waited for him to say it was over. Instead, he said, "I'm upset, and I'm not very happy right now. I'm going to go upstairs and calm down. I still love you forever, though." He never made me feel like ending our relationship was an option; working out our differences while calm was the only option to him. That is more security than a house."
Jen's advice on love: "Not feeling secure in your relationship will cause too much strain for it to continue. The relationship will eventually end without security. You should be able to take for granted that your partner will work everything out and not leave you without good cause. That doesn't mean you take them for granted or treat them badly, but you should be able to trust them when they say they'll love you forever. In my marriage now, my husband and I make each other feel secure, and that creates less stress in our relationship. There's certainly no need to leave a relationship that makes you feel great!"
After the emotional connection in her marriage took a turn for the worse, Carol, 64, had to risk losing her relationship with her uncommunicative husband to get the marriage she knew she deserved
"After a year of our being stationed overseas in Panama, my husband, Ronnie, a serviceman at the time, suddenly stopped talking to me and couldn't share what was happening with him,” she says. “A quiet man to begin with, his shutting down wasn't something I could deal with."
Carol's turning point: "When I asked him if he saw what was happening changing anytime soon, and he replied that he didn't, I knew I could not remain in this limbo. So I asked him to send me back to the U.S., and we lived apart for over two years. During that period, I lived in Oklahoma and worked three jobs to pay rent on my apartment and support myself. Ronnie and I continued to stay in touch while we were separated. While we never discussed whether he dated, I did. But because I always felt he and I were meant to be together, I couldn't really commit to the man I saw. I still loved my husband, and he still loved me, so when he asked if we could try again, I agreed but suggested we go slowly. This past March we celebrated 41 years together. While I never found out was going on with him (I asked if it was someone else — he said no), our marriage is stronger today than ever before. I think it is because he had to see that he had something worth holding on to."
Carol's advice on love: "I realize I took a risk leaving like I did, but I had to do what felt right for me. My refusing to settle for less than I deserved saved our marriage."
Karen, 50, wasn’t content to ride the wave of a relationship with that didn’t satisfy her. Her unwavering belief in destiny played a role in finally connecting with the man who made her heart sing — and the rich emotional life she always dreamed of.
"Since I was very young, I dreamed of meeting a specific man, somebody I felt I was supposed to connect with,” she says. “In 1999, I went to Australia to visit a man I was seeing, and he acted like a drunken jerk one evening. I was up all night crying, when I suddenly looked outside the window and saw a tree that had two trunks joined at the bottom — the limbs were growing in opposite directions. I got a message that there was somebody I would meet one day and he would love me as never before. Like the tree, we were joined at the trunk, but seemed to be apart now. I put a photo of that tree by my bed, to the left of where I sleep.
"When I returned back to the U.S., I began composing music. I started recording songs for my future true love, who I called the Maestro, who was the main character of an operetta I started writing. I had felt throughout my life that my match was a conductor. In April of last year, I met a man and started seeing him. The connection was intense — like nothing I have ever felt before, not even in high school."
Karen's turning point: "One August day, I was in his backyard and suddenly noticed that he had a tree with two trunks outside his window on the left side of his bed — it was very similar in shape to the tree in Australia. In that moment, I told him the story, and he walked up to me and said, 'I don't know what to make of that story, but I can say I am sorry I was not here to love you properly sooner.' He kissed me, and the wind started blowing and the leaves on all the trees rustled. It was like something out of a movie. And that's not all: I knew he worked as a musician, band director and teacher, but one evening in October, he showed me a video of a performance he had conducted at the school where he was teaching. It hadn't occurred to me that he was a conductor. It turns out, in 1999 he was nicknamed the Maestro! Last Christmas Eve, he proposed to me. He gave me an engagement ring that was just like the one I had imaged years ago that I would have — a blue sapphire surrounded by small diamonds and set in white gold. He said he knew it was what I would want."
Karen's advice on love: "The lesson I have taken away is to not settle for less than what you want. He is out there. I do believe there was only one man for me, and that is why it never worked with anybody else. Follow your intuition and believe in your dreams. A lot of people give up, but these kinds of connections are possible. If we settle for men who don't treat us well, they aren't going to happen."
Tune in to Satisfaction on USA Network on July 17 at 10/9c for a search for fulfillment as seen through the eyes of one couple.
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