Have you ever said or thought to yourself “we were never really a match” or “it seemed like a match at the time”? It is amazing to me how often I have heard similar sentiments expressed?
With hindsight being 20/20 it seems now Julie and I were never really a match. Sure we were attracted to each other, had some similar interests and a level of respect for each other that made us seem from the outside looking in like a couple that had as good a shot as any of making it. I honestly wasn’t looking to get married, I was happy enough as a bachelor but when we started dating it all seemed to go at an accelerated pace. I was restless to make a change in life and to relocate, and Julie said she would go with me but only if we were married. Basically an ultimatum which I should have taken as a sign, but we were young and in love and I was sure we could overcome any obstacles our differences might bring.
An ultimatum followed by contrition followed by resentment started to become a pattern in our married life. An artful dance of manipulation, conflict, retreat, passive aggressive action, chase, and run. We took turns leading the dance but Julie was typically more confrontational while I tended to be the peace maker. Julie is also quite extroverted while I was the polar opposite, very introverted. I was taught growing up that opinions, conversations, and actions within our relationship and household weren’t anybody else’s business, Julie is more the type that likes to share anything and everything, she will tell you herself that she doesn’t often have a private thought, that her life is “out there” for public consumption. Neither introvert nor extrovert is necessarily wrong, just very different. Sadly I determined the only way to keep information private from the public was to withhold it from my own wife.
Years of what I felt were embarrassing encounters and built up resentments caused me to withdraw, I buried myself in work, home improvements, hobbies, activities and raising my boys. I bristled at the thought of social events. As Julie’s need for social activities increased and she started to spend more evenings away from me and the boys a whole new set resentments began to emerge. It was a challenge to be with her but I didn’t want her to be away from our home either. I had resigned myself to living in a dull marriage where the best I could hope for was to be able to defuse conflicts between us and insulate the children from her increasingly combative nature at home.
I was resistant to seeking outside help. To me it just seemed like another avenue to allow our personal life to be aired. The only thing I knew for sure was that I loved my boys, more than anything, and they loved me. I knew it was my duty to raise them as best I knew how to become functional adults. I knew that no matter what, they deserved to grow and live in an environment where they would know they were loved and cared for. What I didn’t know was that that environment would ultimately become multiple environments.
I did not choose divorce and, even with our struggles, I did not want divorce. I grieved less for the loss of my wife than for the loss of the family, I grieved for the loss of our plans, I grieved for the loss the boys would feel coming from a broken home. Their lives would never be the same. I would not go so far as to say they are better for it our divorce. I will say, however, that by keeping the focus on them and by each of us swallowing our pride (difficult as it has been at times), we have thus far been able to create relationships all around that are far more functional than many I have seen. The thing I know for sure is our sons know every day that they are loved and cared for.