For Kaylee Babin, waiting for a man was nothing. She was a pro at waiting. Hell, she majored in waiting. In the spring of 1993, she waited for a man to divorce his wife. That never happened. A year later, she waited for her son to enter the world for eight months and three weeks, plus twenty-three hours of labor. That did happen. Three years later, she waited for her boyfriend to return from an eight-month deployment in Japan. She then waited for her fiancé to return home from another three-year deployment in Iraq. Now, she was waiting for the same man, once her boyfriend and fiancé, now her husband, to return from Afghanistan.
What did these three men have in common?
The United States Marine Corps.
Although, her son, Joseph, was only seventeen, she knew he’d been waiting to enlist throughout his senior year at Terrebonne High School, where recruiters scouted eligible students from the Class of 2010.
The Marines seemed to have taken over her whole life. She dated many of them when she was younger. She was attracted to a man in uniform, fascinated about their service. She’d always wanted to help in some sort of way. She wanted to enlist herself, but her tattoo on her wrist didn’t cover the uniform regulations. If she were to salute, anyone could see the J on her right wrist above where the uniform’s sleeves cut off. Other than that, her personality attracted recruiters. She would’ve been a golden nugget. She was a bundle of confidence, stubbornness, and rebellion. She was also very physically strong for her size.
She was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. The capital was a small town. Nothing special. There were small buildings everywhere and lots of grass. There was only one main mall and plenty of strip malls to shop at. She spent most of her years dealing with a troublesome household. She never got along with her parents, who were both lawyers. Her sister, Erica, just a year younger than her, was the star of the family. Erica followed in their parents’ footsteps. She’d taken the bar and passed. As soon as the results came in, Kaylee’s parents protested that she wasn’t doing anything important in her life and that Erica was setting a better example. The only thing good in their eyes was that she’d never gotten pregnant in high school. She honestly didn’t know what she was doing wrong.
She was tired of arguing and having to stay in the house and study for tests she never agreed to in the first place. After so many years of them trying to force her into college, she packed a bag, left, and never looked back. She was only twenty. She bought a little shed way out of town. It was about thirty minutes out, but she didn’t mind. It meant thirty minutes away from her family. She’d cut all ties to them, including Erica. She loved her sister but Erica had become just like their parents, always throwing shade in her direction.
She hadn’t dated since her senior year. She didn’t feel like it. She preferred to work at her café job as a waitress. Due to buying her shed and fixing it up herself, she worked double shifts as much as possible. When she couldn’t work double shifts, she took it upon herself to find something else to do. She had considered volunteering at the Veteran Affairs. It was harder to get into St. Dominic’s as a volunteer due to the number of interns applying, so the VA it was. She loved the veterans she met. Each one had a story to tell and she was good at cheering up the patients. However, she’d go back to the shed she called “home” and realized she had no one to pass on those stories to. She became a volunteer at one of the animal shelters. She felt so attracted to the animals that came through the doors and disheartened when one would leave. She was always happy in the end because that meant those animals were welcomed into a home of their own. Whether it was a dog, cat, or rabbit she was bathing, she’d repeat the stories she’d heard earlier that day. She wasn’t allowed to take any of the animals home, but when she did go home to paint her walls, she felt excited about the next day. She felt free from all the years she’d been pressured to do anything, and the bike rides were always nice too. The weather was usually sticky hot in the summer and it rained every so often, but she didn’t mind. Winter would just become cool. If she really had to, she’d take a taxi or ride with a coworker to and from work.
While at the café, some classmates from high school noticed her and would wave hello. She never had too many friends to begin with. She didn’t like talking to too many people unless she saw someone being bullied. She was never too fond of bullying. Everyone loved Erica though. She was homecoming and prom queen. She was valedictorian… everything that Kaylee wasn’t. Kaylee was short, with big beautiful brown eyes and black shoulder-length hair. Over the years, she collected tattoos, the only real reason for her parents to be mad.
That was seventeen years ago. As far as dating, well, the last time she really “dated” anyone was when she met her husband, Drake—soon-to-be ex-husband. Ironically enough, she met Drake through a long-lost true love. Was it true love?
Carlos was an active duty Marine. A married one at that. He worked at the recruiting office right next door to the café where they had first met. Every so often, Kaylee would work the front door as a hostess when the café was short on workers. She didn’t mind. She loved welcoming anyone who walked through the brown wooden doors. She’d noticed a couple of the recruiters stopping by to get something to go but one would come every blue moon. On one specific day, he came by himself. She remembered the last time he was there, the other guys he’d come with called him “Hernandez”. He had an olive green sweat suit on with USMC embedded in red with a yellow outline on his jacket. He was slim and she could tell he was of Spanish descent. If he’d stayed out in the sun any longer, he could make bronze. He had that jarhead haircut with gel slicking the top up. She noticed the veins that ran throughout his arms, finding it attractive. She’d realized she’d just been staring.
“Table for one?”
“Four,” he responded quietly.
She nodded and showed him to a table. When his pals showed up, she’d taken their orders and served them. There wasn’t much to say that day, but he came back more than usual and she learned that his name was Carlos.
Kaylee felt something that day, but she thought it was crazy to feel something after barely speaking to someone and not knowing who they were. She couldn’t deny that Carlos was interesting. They became more comfortable with talking the more he came to the café. She learned things about him here and there but she didn’t pry when she barely told him anything about herself. The previous relationship she had was merely a fling. It had been four years since then, and that relationship didn’t even last three months. She just assured herself that staying single was for the best so she shrugged the thought of being with Carlos aside.
Until one rainy night in February after work, when she didn’t have a ride back to her house. It was late, around 10 pm. She was the only one cleaning and closing the café. She didn’t know what to do. Rain had not been in the forecast, but she wasn’t surprised. The South had a way of dealing with its weather when it wanted to. She walked over to the recruiting station only hoping one of the recruiters had stayed. The doors were locked so she knocked as hard as she could so that someone would hear her over the thunder. To her dismay, Carlos approached and let her in. He took her home with no hesitation. When she got out of his car, she thanked him, and ran into the little shed. Although they barely said anything that night, the next few days seemed rough.
It was certain that Kaylee was falling for him. She couldn’t even explain why. But the next day at work, she had an extended break and decided to go visit Carlos next door. When she’d walked in, she’d smiled but stopped dead in her tracks. There was Carlos holding a little boy about two years old. The boy’s face was all the evidence she needed to confirm he was Carlos’.
She walked right out, confused. He has a kid? Wait, if he has a kid… is he married? You can be active and have kids, of course. But who’s watching him while Carlos works? Daycare? There weren’t many daycares around during those years. Her mind raced through question after question that day. That night, he told her that the boy was, indeed, his son, Logan, and that he was married but that it was complicated.
Kaylee knew about “complicated.” She was so used to Carlos’ complications, she thought it would different with Drake. But when it came to Drake, everything became even more complicated. It wasn’t because he was gone, it was because she was just done with it all. “Complicated” was the definition of her life. She’d had happy moments and some of them very memorable, but a lot she had to let go. She looked outside the kitchen window and saw a little white Nissan Sentra parked in the driveway. She was supposed to go get Joseph from school so that they could go to the recruiting office to finally get him enlisted but she couldn’t take her eyes off the car. She closed her eyes and began to reminisce.
On a Friday night, a week after Kaylee learned about Carlos’ marriage, there was a cool breeze blowing. Kaylee had finally gotten her very first car; she’d never been so happy. It also meant no more rides from Carlos. She was relieved because it helped them to not get into any trouble, but that didn’t stop them from seeing each other.
That very first night she had her car, she sat out in the parking lot behind the café. She was waiting on her coworker to bring back her wallet. She had run a few errands on break with them and left it in their car. They lived all the way out in Vicksburg which was an hour away. That one hour felt like a lifetime to her.
As she waited, she noticed the back door to the RSS had opened and out came Carlos. He walked up to her passenger side and knocked on the window. She unlocked the car and he hopped in. “Why are you just sitting out here?” He shivered, so she turned the heat higher.
“I’m waiting on my coworker to bring me my wallet back. Unfortunately, our schedules don’t really match the rest of the week.”
“Well, I’ll stay out here with you so nothing bad happens.”
“Won’t you get in trouble? They’ll notice you’re missin’. Ain’t there a poolee function?”
“Yeah, but the poolees are all in there in their sleeping bags on the floor. You can barely walk around them. There’s a handful of ’em that stay way out of town, so we let them and anyone else sleep over so we don’t have to pick ’em up early in the morning because they don’t have rides.” He paused and looked at her, smiled. “No one’s gonna drive all the way out there to pick ’em up at 5 o’clock in the morning. Johnson and Stevens are in there with them anyway. Lucas doesn’t care about us leaving, long as one of us is there to watch the kids. We technically don’t have to sleep over either. But I do, ’cause it’s fun.” He continued to look at her, hesitating before he asked if she could park elsewhere.
She did without questioning. She knew that he didn’t want anyone to open the office’s back door and see them. She parked behind a few buildings behind a strip mall where no one could see them. He told her that he didn’t know what to do. He wanted her and he wanted a divorce but even she knew that it was hard. That was where he first kissed her. In that car. That same car that was parked outside her garage now.
The more Kaylee and Carlos hung out, the more it got difficult to hide. Kaylee had to hide from her coworkers and Carlos had to hide from his recruiters and poolees. After work, she’d see if his car was parked outside. Every night it was. She’d go see him while he finished up work. Sometimes they’d watch movies and snuggle up but nothing happened. He’d tell her what his wife would do and kick him out in which case he’d sleep on the couch at the office. Kaylee wasn’t a fan of that so she offered her place when he needed it. They never did anything physical except kiss. He’d follow Kaylee to her place every night. She’d get out of her car and hop into his and they’d ride around late at night. Sometimes they stayed in his while they sat in her driveway to talk about the future. Kaylee would steer from discussing his family matters but it was all he could talk about. She reluctantly listened and didn’t complain.
The first week of March, Kaylee had left work when she noticed Carlos outside taking a smoke.
“Come here,” he said.
She walked over and he suddenly grabbed her hand and pulled her into the back room of the RSS. He pushed her up against wall and kissed her hard. She was breathless unsure about the gesture.
He took a step back and said, “I love you.”
Kaylee didn’t know what had happened. She wanted to say it back but she couldn’t find it in herself to say it. That night they made love for the very first time.
The following week, Carlos told her about how he might have a job lined up in Houma. Apparently, his Commanding Officer thought it would be best to put him there. Houma was like the mother-god of recruiting stations in the Louisiana-Mississippi division. It had the most schools for the most part. The areas were large to cover for recruiting. It was either that, or he would take over Jackson’s station.
He couldn’t decide. He didn’t know what to do. It was a lot of responsibility but Kaylee could tell that wasn’t the problem.
“What do you mean if you get a divorce?” exclaimed Kaylee.
“I know I’m going to get one. I just don’t know when,” he answered.
“You just don’t know when?”
“Kaylee, it’s not that easy,” said Carlos as he attempted to grab her hand.
She threw her hands up not wanting to be touched. “So, what was I? A rebound? Or was it just sex? That’s it, isn’t it.” It wasn’t a question nor was she asking.
He looked at her sharply. “You know that’s not it.”
“Then what? I know it’s not easy, but you need to decide what you want, Carlos! How ’bout this, I’ll just go. I’m going to go and you can have your life back. Go back to her because it’s better that way. You don’t even know if you really love me!”
“I do love you. Don’t go. Please, don’t go.”
“I’m not doing this for you. I’m doing this for your son. Do you know what could happen if she found out about this? If anyone found out about this? You could lose everything. I don’t want that to happen. I don’t want you to lose your son.” She turned to open the passenger door. Carlos leaned over to shut it. “CARLOS!”
He grabbed her. “I know what could happen. I know what I could lose. Don’t tell me. I know. I’m willing to risk it. I’ll fight for you and my son.”
“Are you fucking crazy?!” Her voice began to tremble. “This wasn’t supposed to happen. I should’ve left you alone.” She opened the door again. As she got out, he grabbed her shirt but he lost his grip. She slammed the door and stormed off.
The following morning, Kaylee let him know that she’d be there for him, but he didn’t budge. He didn’t seem to care anymore so she gave up but later that night he was kicked out again and she let him stay at her house. She didn’t want to but he needed a place to sleep. She felt like a rebound but she loved him. They planned to go to Biloxi on a weekend they were both free. Kaylee had never been to an Airforce base but she was excited. It was early March and the weather was getting a little warmer. The beach was nice during the weekend but Carlos went back to an empty house with no wife and no Logan. Kaylee started spending nights over there and eventually she moved in. It was hard to be around his wife’s things. Seeing Logan’s toys laying around the floor and walking into his room was hard for her. She felt like she didn’t belong. And she didn’t. She didn’t touch anything, but when she wanted to she’d ask Carlos if she could. It took her a few weeks to find herself to do dishes and clean. She knew Carlos tried to make things better for her while she stayed there.
She didn’t know about moving to Houma. But she was reassured when Carlos got down on one knee with a ring pop and asked her to move with him.
It was mid-June when they made it to Houma. That weekend, Carlos had to go straight to training in South Carolina for his position for running the RSS. Strangely though, he never called nor did he email. She waited for him for two weeks. She managed to get another job at a local restaurant. When he got back, it was his birthday. He was turning twenty-eight. His birthday was supposed to have fixed it, but it didn’t.
Carlos had been gone for about two weeks, and he was finally coming home. He and Kaylee wrote letters, but it wasn’t easy, and he hardly called. He was always in class, and she never knew how his schedule worked. They managed with a few letters back and forth until it became a one-way communication. Kaylee was losing hope, and she felt alone most of the time, and not just physically, but mentally as well. She knew he was busy, but if there were other reasons why he wouldn’t respond to her letters, she’d never know. Finally, she received a last-minute call, letting her know that he was coming home on his birthday the next day.
Carlos was supposed to be arriving home soon, and Kaylee had cleaned the apartment. She made the place smell good with candlelit fragrances. She’d vacuumed the carpet and washed all the dishes.
She’d baked a chocolate cake for him. She was so happy with the results. She was decent with her cooking, but her baking skills killed in any kitchen. It was better than what she’d expected. It was a chocolate Marine Corps themed cake. She’d drawn the emblem herself with red, yellow, and black frosting. The cake itself was red all around. She’d even made a gold rope outlining the cake that hooked on the anchor. She put it on a cardboard, and on it wrote, “Happy Birthday! Oohrah!” in cursive. She put the cake into a box and set it on the table.
She managed to do last-minute shopping, but she honestly didn’t know what to get him. They still had things to learn about what each other liked. She knew he was into Marvel and DC comics. She bought a few birthday party favors that related to comics, and hung them around the apartment. He was a kid at heart and she loved that about him.
The only real gift she had for him was handmade. It was a scrapbook that told a story of how they met, and where they were now. She didn’t fill all the pages because she wanted him to put in what he wanted. Their story wasn’t finished.
She heard a knock on the door, and immediately knew it was him. She kept him waiting for a few minutes since she wasn’t completely ready. When she was done, she opened the door, and saw him sitting on a chair that he’d put on the patio. “Close your eyes,” she said.
“I told you I didn’t want any surprises.” He picked up his bags and closed his eyes.
She took his free hand and guided him into the apartment. “Open your eyes.”
There wasn’t much to look at, but he could smell the candles and see homemade decorations. Most importantly, he saw a “Happy Birthday” sign she’d taped onto the wall above the sofa. He smiled, and kissed her.
She’d put the scrapbook and cake on the coffee table. It wasn’t much of a surprise, but she did what she could. In a way, she felt embarrassed, wondering what his wife did on his birthdays. She couldn’t think about that, though. He was here with her now; that was all that mattered.
She watched as Carlos opened the box that the cake was in, and saw the crooked smile she fell in love with run across his face.
“Did you make this?”
“I can’t remember the last time I had a birthday cake,” he said quietly. He thanked her, and closed the box. He took the scrapbook and started to look through it.
“I know it’s kind of hard to see, and you’re older now—if you need me to, I’ll read it for you,” she joked.
He shoved her, laughing. “I can read it.”
When he was done, he shut it. He looked at her, and said, “I’ve never had any of this. I’ve never had a scrapbook filled with memories to look back at. And this cake… I love you. I’m sorry about not writing back or calling.” He kissed her.
She wanted him so badly. She didn’t care about him writing. She missed his touch. She missed him. She gave in to the weeks she hadn’t had his body against hers.
Even after all that she did for him on his birthday, she was less appreciated. For days, he never touched his cake; she never knew why. He never touched his scrapbook; again, she never knew why. After a while, more training came, and fewer letters were written. No emails. No calls. Eventually, she gave up, and would wait until he got home. Then he would come home, and never really speak to her.
Some nights she would go to bed with tears in her eyes, and he wouldn’t care. She didn’t understand what was going on. She didn’t understand why she was losing him.
Even on her own special day, she had cried herself to sleep.
It was September 6th.
Kaylee’s twenty-third birthday.
Kaylee knew she wasn’t going to have the birthday she wanted. The entire year, she was so ecstatic to have someone to celebrate her birthday with. She was in love. She didn’t care about presents. Just having someone with her, loving her, was all she cared about. That was dead and gone. The way Carlos had been acting, she knew it was just another day.
His alarm went off, and he was out of bed right away. She got up to get ready for work as well. He went into the bathroom, and she went into the closet to pick out her usual business casual clothes. She put on a pink blouse and her favorite black slacks. She wore her only pair of black heels she’d brought with her when they’d moved.
Carlos was out of the bathroom, and she walked in. She shut the door. No one said anything. It was an everyday thing. There were no more “good mornings” or kisses. Nothing. Not even a hug. She put on her makeup, carefully applying the black pencil eyeliner to her eyes. Lastly, she applied her mascara, straightened her blouse, and walked out. She saw him just in time, as he picked up his backpack in which he kept his work things, and left out of the front door.
She cried. There was nothing. She convinced herself that he had a surprise for her later. She didn’t care what it was. Flowers would’ve been all right. Or a bag of Hershey Kisses. She didn’t want to believe he’d forgotten. Or worse, that he didn’t care.
When she arrived at work, her coworkers embraced her with open arms and “Happy Birthdays”. They gave her a couple of gift cards and a cake. She was so happy because she’d never received anything like it in a very long time. She’d walked out of her parents’ household years ago, and planned on never going back. There were no more birthdays for her. She’d accepted that. When she met Carlos, even in their situation, she believed it would be different. But it felt emptier and lonelier.
Her day at work was going well, but still no sign of Carlos. She understood that he was busy, but it didn’t take much to stop by. She always taught herself that if she wanted a successful man, she’d need to understand a busy man’s schedule. But Carlos was different. He knew how to work and make time for her. He did it when he was in Jackson, and that told her all she needed to know. But it was no longer that way.
When she got home, she laid her birthday cards on the glass coffee table. She didn’t have much to do, so she cleaned a little bit, sat down, and turned on the T.V. She found some old cartoons and picked up last week’s newspaper. Around eight, she started cooking as she did every night. Carlos would leave the office around nine. She turned the stove on, boiled some water in a pot, and placed the pasta noodles in. She sat back down and waited until the pasta was done. She finished up with the tomato sauce and mixed it.
Carlos walked in.
“Hey! You’re a little early.”
He threw his bags on the floor, slumped onto the couch, and changed the channel. “Yeah. There wasn’t a whole lot to do,” he said musingly. He looked on the coffee table and noticed the cards. “What are these?”
“Birthday cards.” He really forgot.
“Is it your birthday?”
She handed him a bowl of pasta. “Yes.”
He took the bowl from her. “Happy Birthday, Kaylee.” He dug into the pasta. “Thanks for the food,” he said between bites. He leaned back against the couch and continued to switch through the channels.
“Thanks,” she said softly. She didn’t want to eat anymore. He forgot, and he didn’t care. She went to the bedroom and closed the door. She took off her pants and her bra. She usually took off her shirt, but kept it on. She felt embarrassed. She was hurt. Everything they ever had was gone. She listened to the loud ruckus coming from the T.V. He cared more about the stupid box than her birthday.
She didn’t even want to be inside the house anymore. She got up, slipped her pants back on, dismissed the fact she needed a bra, grabbed her keys and walked out. She slammed the door behind her.
She hopped into her car, turned the engine on, and pulled out of the driveway without waiting for the engine to warm up. She stopped at the gas station to pump some gas. She went inside the store and bought a warm coffee to keep her awake. She didn’t know where she was going, but she knew she wasn’t going to stay in Houma.
She drove through Thibodaux. She loved the small town. The houses were beautiful, something only the rich folks could afford. She’d dreamed one day that she’d have that with the love of her life, only they would come from new money. Learning to make her own money was something she always wanted to do. She’d get there at some point. She didn’t care how long it took her. She pictured herself in a fancy little house with Carlos, with their kids playing in the front yard with a white picket fence, and their dogs, Roxy and Rocky. Roxy would be a Husky, and Rocky would be a German Shepherd. That dream went out the window along with Carlos. He no longer wanted any of that. He didn’t care about anything but himself. His words about how he was thinking he would be better off single, fighting for his son, and just lay low for a while replayed in her head. His voice was loud and clear.
She turned on the radio to drown out his voice. It was static, but it was better than nothing. She rolled down the windows, and the wind pulled her hair everywhere.
She got through Thibodaux, going a little further, and decided to turn around. She was tired from the crying earlier, and the coffee wasn’t working.
She pulled up to the house, and walked in. He was still watching his show. He just looked at her. “Where’d you go?” he asked.
“What’s in Thibodaux?”
“Nothing,” She went to bed.
She fell asleep but woke when she felt the weight of the mattress lower. Carlos faced the other side of the bed like he normally did. They didn’t touch each other anymore. He never wanted to. He always wanted space.
Her stomached churned, and she wished she could’ve had the day she wanted. She could no longer pretend she was happy. Tears came one by one like raindrops. She sniffled. She wanted to sleep in the living room. She didn’t want to be there anymore.
“What’s wrong?” asked Carlos.
“You didn’t even care about my birthday.”
“I’m sorry I forgot.”
“You didn’t want to do anything.”
He turned over on his back, staring up at the ceiling. “What do you want to do? It’s your birthday. Do you want to do it?”
She realized what he was talking about. She became furious but she didn’t yell. She didn’t want sex. She wanted his time and attention. She knew that having sex would calm her down. But it would just be sex. Nothing else. She wasn’t prepared for that. But she had to wipe away the tears and move on with life. She felt her back against his chest, feeling his erection, as he slowly pulled down his boxers. He pulled down her panties next. He stuck himself in and gradually grinded. It was just one of those ‘let’s just fuck’ nights.
When Carlos left to go see his family, Kaylee felt like she was dying inside. She thought the worst; he could decide he wanted his wife back any day. She would picture him kissing Victoria, and sleeping with her. She felt that his feelings would regain what he used to feel for Victoria. She would cry late at night and sleep on his side of the bed because of how much she’d miss him. She understood that Carlos would need to see Logan. She had no right to get mad. The divorce was served, but she felt that Carlos was keeping things from her. But so was she.
Once again, she knew what she was doing when she met up with Drake one night. Earlier that day, she’d gone to the RSS to bring a coworker in for information on joining the Marines. They were greeted by a blonde hair, blue-eyed man who stood about 5’6”. He was what Kaylee considered “the boy next door”. She’d seen Carlos come out of his office with a confused look. She didn’t mind him though. Her full focus remained on Blue Eyes. Later that same night, she went to get groceries at Rouse’s where she had run into Drake. He’d asked her if they could go out for a drink, but she persisted she didn’t drink. Instead, they went over to his place and watched a movie.
She was attracted to Drake. She knew that she would get in trouble but before she knew it, he’d kissed her and clothes were on the floor.
She’d left Drake with no word. She never spoke to him again. Carlos never knew about what happened until he suspected it one day.
But during the last week of October, Kaylee found out she had been pregnant for about a month. She’d thrown up a few times but it didn’t dawn on her what it could’ve been. She remembered the last time they had sex was around her birthday. It wasn’t a pleasurable moment, but he’d accidentally done something he’d never done that time. Carlos had been visiting his son and when he got home, he told her that he wanted to fix his family and stay with his wife. Kaylee only knew that it was because Victoria had Logan.
Thinking about it now, she never tricked Carlos into anything. It was the wrong time to tell him that she was pregnant with Joseph. He’d told her that she got what she wanted and that she should leave. He didn’t seem to believe her when he laughed and said it wasn’t possible. She’d taken her things and left. She moved in with a coworker, Halle, who had an extra bedroom for Kaylee to use. From there, she stayed with Halle. Then Drake walked back into her life while visiting his family. She said why not. Soon they were married and he adopted Joseph. Together they moved around with their Husky, Roxy, but bought a house in Houma and built a stable. Since then, they’d been there for the past two years.
However, the death of their three-year-old daughter, Grace, who was sick, toppled their marriage. Things got rocky as Drake was needed for more duties and deployments. His drinking was toxic to their family and Kaylee couldn’t seem to shake the feeling that their marriage was over.