Possibly one of the main reasons we got married was that we were in our 40's and tired of being alone. I believe a big part of what determines who you marry is who's around at the time you decide you're ready to be a wife or husband. I finally decided I was ready to Be Married in January 2008 and my now-ex-husband was the next person who asked me to dinner.
We were a good match in many ways. His buoyancy balanced my moodiness and we agreed on all things day-to-day. We never had any conflict about how we organized our household or our daily schedules, what kind of food we kept in the kitchen, or what we did on vacations and in our free time. We had complete agreement on not wanting kids and how often we saw family and what we did with our money. He completely supported me taking time for my girlfriends and therapy and unconventional health treatments. I never gave him a second of pushback on his heavy smoking and crazy work schedule.
It's possible we could have lasted a long time if it weren't for my mental illness. Of course I told him about it early in our dating months and he experienced my moods before we moved in together. I suspect he believed the love of a good man would cure my chronic depression and I'd pull out of my emotional behavior with his influence. Instead, my depressed months continued to come and go. He did his best to cope by being patient with me and he even -- for a few months -- attended a support group for family members of people living with mental illness.
But instead of being patient with an illness he understood had no cure, I think he was being patient while he waited for me to get cured. While we put lots of effort into understanding and managing my depression, things changed and they never got better. By the time I stopped ignoring how much they'd changed and talked him into marriage counseling it was too late. This has left me with a jaded view of marriage counseling because by the time someone stops fooling herself and decides it's time to get professional help, things are probably too far gone.
Still my husband's announcement that he couldn't "do this anymore" blindsided me as I guess those things usually do. Considering that most divorces are initiated by the wife, I guess being dumped by my husband should make me feel bad, but it doesn't. Instead I believe it gives me the moral high ground: I didn't give up; he did. Also by giving up, my ex-husband freed me to go back to living on my own and being myself again. I'd lived alone for 12 years before we moved in together, so returning to that felt natural and comfortable.
It still does. In fact, living alone feels so natural and comfortable that I suspect I'm not the marrying kind. I certainly don't have it as a goal to get re-married. But that doesn't mean I don't want another relationship. I wish I could find another man with whom to practice friendship, love, intimacy, boredom, conflict and compromise.
But I don't have a good track record and I feel like a bad horse to bet on. I wonder if some of us just don't have the skills to even practice good intimacy and comfortable relationships that have happiness as well as pain. I wonder of some of us just languish in the attic of our lives and feel grateful for the love and affection we get from our platonic relationships.
|Bob and Regina, 27 Sept 2008|
When I look back on my marriage, I feel sorry for both of us. We were so relieved and happy to have found the bond we'd been waiting for. We delighted in each other's company and we laughed a lot. While it was good, it was very, very good: he was my favorite person and I was his. We expected to never have to spend another holiday or vacation alone. We had finally found the home we'd been longing for.
The marriage was over in five years and now more time than that has passed since its end. I can only hope it wasn't my last chance to practice relationship (or his).