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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Lesson Learned. The Hard Way.

I believe that both my husband and I are decent people who take marriage and commitment seriously.  If there was one thing I had always wanted, it was to become a housewife and stay-at-home mother.  So when my husband told me he wanted to get a divorce in May 2011, citing he no longer had any feelings for me other than as a mother to his child, it felt like my whole world had crumbled down before my very eyes.  Not only were my dreams shattered, it was a huge loss to my sense of self—because for the past decade I had seen and defined myself mainly as a wife and a mother.

In the twelve years that we were together, I was always faithful to him, I never so much as looked at another, spending most of my time at home and being a mother to our daughter.  I did not work, had any career or hobbies that required me to be away from home for a long period of time, and I surrounded myself with friends who were similar in values and lifestyles.  I did not nag; my husband could go out and do things that he liked anytime.  I did not expect him to accompany me all the time, I never snooped around his things, and I did not question his coming and goings. 

I thought I was a pretty darn good wife.  It was almost too easy to blame it all on my husband based on those criteria.  And it was not as if he was a perfect husband either—ugh, far from it.  So what gives?

You know how some people need to slam into a brick wall first before changing their course?   I have always been one of them.  In this case, it had taken the end of my marriage, and then some... After the initial shock and disbelief subsided, when the anger had dissipated into sadness and loss... It was only then that I really saw, I too, was to blame for failing my marriage.

If you go a little deeper into what was my marriage, then you would start noticing the little cracks that ran deeper than they seemed.

Sure, the spontaneity and excitement that was present in the beginning of our relationship had long turned into the more stable, comfortable kind characteristic of old, married couple.  But it was not as if I was unhappy with my life, or wished for another kind of life.  I may not lust after my husband the way I used to, but I liked having him around, and found his presence comforting.  I was fine with not having a career, and I was a proud mother of a lovely daughter. I had simply settled into what I would describe as a ‘comfortable’ relationship.

So ‘comfortable,’ that during the past few years, our relationship as a ‘couple’ has deteriorated to a level where we were more like roommates rather than husband and wife.  We never invested on building a stronger bond outside that of being parents to our daughter since her birth seven years ago.  We got caught up in all those craziness that came from being new parents, and I guess we unconsciously allowed those days to lead into weeks, weeks turned into months, and months into years.  My experience with Postpartum Psychosis shortly after giving birth, and my ongoing battle with depression afterwards took precedent over building our intimacy and connection.  The severity of what happened, along with the medications I must take until now made me very wary of sex.

Our communication was also in shambles.  We did not argue much, but we also did not care much. We started living separate lives, with me focusing solely on my daughter, and him throwing himself into his work, hobbies, and ultimately into the arms of other women.  His transgressions in turn made me distance myself farther in order not to get terribly hurt, drawing a deeper wedge between us.  Over and over again we told each other we wanted to make our relationship worked, but while the scratches were adding up, what we did was just adding more bandages to the wounds without really addressing the core problem.  At the end, there was really nothing holding us together other than the fact we had a child together.

While I have always prided my good sense concerning priorities, it actually took my husband’s ending the marriage to open my eyes and admit that in my list of priorities, I had not put my marriage anywhere close to where it should be—at the top.  Being a loving mother... checked. Making sure my daughter grows up confident and enjoys learning... checked.  Keeping in touch with my good friends... checked. Defying premature aging... checked.  Staying fashionably updated... checked.

But if you asked me, when was the last time my husband and I had a dinner date together?  Blank.
I am aware that my husband is no saint.  He has certainly committed his share of faults and mistakes too.  But the point is, I have not done my part of the bargain either.  I have not given my marriage my best, and while I cannot change nor control my husband’s behavior, I have no excuse when it comes to myself.  By not prioritizing my relationship with my husband, I too am guilty of failing my marriage.

Going through a marriage break-up is extremely painful, but it has also been an eye-opening experience for me.  I learned this lesson the hard way, but I truly believe that it is indeed better late than never.  Here’s to a better, wiser, ENOUGH me.


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