Category Archives: Evaluating a marriage

In the final analysis

So, with August 17th looming in front of me, staring me in the face like the combination of a dreaded dentist appointment (painful, yes, but a certain end to a lingering problem. And f’ing expensive) and spending three hours cleaning out closets (loved it once, don’t need it any more), I find myself going back to the ol’ marriage evaluation thing. I actually didn’t go there for quite some time. I guess I figured that I’d spent enough time doing that and now I needed to get into moving on mode. But here, in the 11th hour, it sneaks up on me unbidden and unwelcomed. But sneaks up it does, and it immediately lodges itself into some of my brain real estate.

For some reason, this morning, as I was pouring myself a cup of coffee (I’m still trying to get the dogs to do that, but they’re just not getting it. I think it’s the whole “1 packet Sweet’N Low, 5 drops Stevia, a little fat free half-n-half” regimen) I had an image of Mr. Ex and me using the Cusinart early in our marriage to chop vegetables. That was really early in our marriage, because it didn’t take long to figure out that vegetable chopping was way easier with an, um, knife, but the Cusinart was a wedding gift and we were going to use it, damnit. By the way, I still have the Cusinart, so it’s one more thing that lasted longer than my marriage. But I digress.

I remember it well, for some reason. We were putting cucumbers into the Cusinart, and Mr. Ex pretended that he was the vegetable, and started screaming something like “no, don’t do it.”

I also remember laughing like that was the funniest thing I’d ever heard. Seriously? Was I high?

You know how sometimes you see parts of your life like they’re scenes from a movie? Well, that was how I saw that scene. I saw us, young (and I mean young – my youngest is several years older than I was at the time), learning to be a married couple together. I saw us playing in the kitchen (stop that – get your mind out of the gutter. I mean playing, like with kitchen appliances). We were barely adults, playing at being married. And it was fun. Like playing house. And I remember being happy.

Happy. What on earth does that mean? I went to the doctor yesterday to refill a certain anti-depressant that I started in September the week that Mr. Ex moved out. The doctor was actually looking to see if he should up the dosage, and asked me if I was happy. Now, I’m not generally a person who gets stumped, but I just couldn’t answer that question.

I don’t know.

I think I’m content.

But happy – meh, not so sure.

More importantly, I didn’t think I could really remember what happy feels like.

But, looking back at the cucumber murder scene in the kitchen (and, by the way, it’s WAAAAY easier and less messy to slice cucumbers with a knife), I distinctly remember happy. Happy that we were cooking together, compatible, enjoying each other’s company. Happy in the moment.

Ah – there’s the rub. Happy in the moment. Like a child is happy with a new toy, until it falls under the couch and is then forgotten. Like an teenage girl with a new shirt, until the newest style comes out. Fleeting happiness.

At some point during the marriage, happy in the moment ceased to be enough. I wanted more. I wanted security. I needed security like a baby needs a swaddling blanket. I wanted respect. Not just the polite respect of conversation – “please pass the salt,” “thank you,” “you’re welcome” – but the deep down, unspoken respect shown by a husband taking care of things, being a partner, caring enough to put aside his own momentary happiness aside and get down to the business of being a responsible adult, husband and father. And doing it without nagging and constant reminders.

And as I realized that just being happy in the moment wasn’t enough, I became anxious. I became a worrier. And, somewhere, security became so elusive that it turned into my Holy Grail. Like Indiana Jones I dodged bullets, changed courses and avoided certain death. But I never got there. Oh, in the beginning it would look like it was there. I could see it. I was still an optimist and would believe that it was in my grasp. But the music would change, the pacing would speed up, and . . . it would be gone.

So now I don’t have any of it. I can’t remember happy and I don’t have security. I imagine it’s unlikely that I’ll never really have security. Seriously. I’m too old to amass the kind of retirement security the “experts” keep telling me I need, and, in the current economy, I just can’t see I’ll ever get there. I’m guessing that my standard of living in retirement will be lower than it is now, which is an accurate expectation for my generation. So I guess it’s a future as a Wal-Mart cart person for me. Oh well. Whatever.

But happy – that’s probably a more realistic goal. I can still get there, I suppose. And, unfortunately, I’m truly convinced that it requires the demise of my 30-year marriage. What a shame. What a waste. What a loss – really.

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Filed under Creating a new life, Evaluating a marriage, Moving on

What is it about these affairs?

Another high-profile marriage struck by infidelity . . . Governor Mark Sanford – conservative, bible-thumping, Southern, Republican – admitted this week to cheating on his wife with an Argentinian woman. It began innocently enough with emails, etc., and then escalated into so much more. That’s what happens.

I love, though, that, for once, his wife wasn’t standing beside him. It seems that his political career wasn’t as important to her as holding onto her own moral compass was.

“We reached a point where I felt it was important to look my sons in the eyes and maintain my dignity, self-respect, and my basic sense of right and wrong,” Jenny Sanford stated.

Good for her. Basic sense of right and wrong.

I like that.

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Filed under Evaluating a marriage

Keeping score

First – sorry that I’ve been MIA for the last week or so. I apologize to my 3 devoted readers… 🙂

As I mentioned last week, my mother passed away on May 6 after a lengthy illness. I was thinking this morning about my mom and how devastated she was after my father died 31 years ago. One of the things that bothered her was the list. The list was a running tab that she kept of money that my father “owed” her. You see, my maternal grandfather gave my mother cash every so often, and that was “her” money. She didn’t work, so I guess that was her own personal slush fund. When she would need cash for a household expense, sometimes she would use “her” money and get paid back by my father. Or not, I guess, so then she would note it on “the list.”

When he died, that’s what she had – the list.

She always regretted it. I suppose she realized that keeping track didn’t do a whole lot to contribute to the health of her marriage.

I thought a lot about keeping track in a relationship. I had some words with Mr. Ex yesterday that involved that very thing. I asked him if he had told his parents (who would, obviously, be my soon-to-be former in-laws and my children’s paternal grandparents) about my mother’s death. It was pretty much a rhetorical question, since I assumed he had. “Oh, yes,” he replied, reminding me that he had conveyed his parents’ condolences at the funeral (like I remembered…).

I put on my bitch hat. “I was just surprised,” I replied, “that they didn’t call either of the girls.”

No, I wasn’t.

He replied that I shouldn’t be; that my kids never do anything to keep in touch with them, so why should they go out of their way for my kids?

Of course, his parents have never done anything to foster a relationship with my children – not even when they were young, so why should they start now?

All of that led to an early morning thoughtfest about keeping score and how it doesn’t belong in any healthy relationship (operative term being healthy, I suppose).  Football is about keeping score; marriage isn’t. Winning and losing should stay on the soccer field and out of relationships, I guess.

The problem for me, though, is that I think my needs weren’t getting met in other ways, so keeping score was how I was forced to keep track.

When, in my marriage, did it change from that intuitive knowing that you were being taken care of to having to make little mental tick marks?


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Filed under Evaluating a marriage

Thank you

Dear soon-to-be ex-husband,

Thank you for deciding that you wanted a divorce.

Two months after you dropped the bomb, I am in a completely different place than I was then.

I’m looking forward to my life and to no longer taking care of you.

To not having to put up with your dishonesty with others and yourself.

Because I had this old-fashioned idea that marriage was a lifelong commitment, I don’t believe now that I would have ever come to this place on my own.

So, thank you.

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Filed under Evaluating a marriage, Redefining your relationship

Go ahead, fire me…

At our dinner the other night, we talked about what we would be looking for in another relationship. Now, I had more pre-marriage relationships than he did, and several of them were pretty serious, given my age at the time. And since he dropped the “D bomb,” I have thought a lot about what kind of man I could see myself with.

I said that I would like someone who shares my interest in the world and in politics, and who I would find intellectually stimulating.

“You didn’t find me intellectually stimulating?” He asked.

Talk about a cathartic experience. You know how, when you’re leaving a job and you have that one last exit intereview, you can pretty much say whatever you want without fear of recrimination?

What was he going to do if he didn’t like my answer? Leave me?

“Nope,” I answered.

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Filed under Divorce is funny, Evaluating a marriage

The growing realization

In the last almost-two months, I’ve had a lot of time to think about my 30 year marriage.

I’ve concluded that (a) we were never soulmates and (b) I was not a better person for having been married to him. Really.

We went out for dinner Friday night after visiting my mother in the hospital (we still haven’t told her), and talked about that. Wow – 30 years with someone because…

1. We had been dating for several years and it was the next logical step

2. We grew up together and were comfortable with each other

3. We did have a lot in common

So, is that a failure or not? We had good reasons to stay together, but now I guess they’re not good enough.

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Filed under Evaluating a marriage