When you are facing the collapse of your marriage, it’s a pretty surreal moment. For me, it felt like I was standing on the side of a cliff. And here was my husband failing miserably at a variety of mundane tasks- but I couldn’t save him anymore. I reached a point where I had nothing left to give. It was like I was watching a comedy of errors with regards to his behavior. But I stood firmly planted on solid ground, unable and unwilling to give him any further rope.
After I published my last post, he read it and was ashamed of his behavior. We talked that night and then the following day, things seemed eerily quiet during afternoon. We banned the children from our room and calmly talked about our relationship– from beginning to end, rehashing every major pivotal moment in between. It ended with me saying, “I deserve to have a husband that I can rely upon. I need and want a partner who will lead this family and our marriage. I can’t fill every role, while you sit idly by acting like an irresponsible twelve year old. Your behavior is appalling. I don’t respect you when you behave so irresponsibly. And I’m not attracted to you whatsoever when you behave like this. I no longer wish to have sex with you. I don’t want to share a bed with you. I’m done.”
And that was that.
He slept on the hardwood floors of our living room for three nights, until I finally said that was insane. At the very least, take the bed in our daughters room. I will move her into our bed, after she falls asleep each night. So that’s what I did. She’s a lot heavier these days, so this wasn’t the easiest of tasks. Every morning, I awoke to her angelic face. I had forgotten just how lovely she is sleeping next to me. It made me think back upon all those naps we took together when she was an infant/toddler. And how quickly the time was passing by us. Quite honestly, I enjoyed the renewed bond I felt those evenings and her presence became the highlight of my day. She would awaken each morning, and we would get just enough time to cuddle and have girl talks before Zane crawled into bed too. It was nice and sweet, despite the undercurrent which brought her into my bed.
The following day, I had tons of work to do, so I left for the day. But when I came home, my husband was dressed in his Hugo Boss suit, as if he had a conference to attend. Only, he didn’t. I must have looked at him bizarrely because he offered up right away, “Everything I have done before wasn’t working. So today, I am doing everything different.” Normally, he would be working in casual clothes but recently he had stayed in his pajamas, that’s how lazy he had become. So finding him dressed to the nines, and sitting working on his laptop, taking conference calls–well it was just funny to see. As I began washing the piles of dishes he created that day, I couldn’t help but smirk. A wave of pessimism washed over me. If putting on a Hugo Boss suit makes you feel better about your crumbling marriage (and if that somehow is going to change directions for you), knock yourself out there buddy.
But I didn’t say that. I’m not that cruel…but the cynic in me certainly thought it. Call it years of hearing words but never seeing actions. It seemed as if he was grabbing at straws.
We went to bed that night, barely saying a word unless it was regarding the children. There was an obvious tension between us with minimal eye contact exchanged. The following night, he slept in the other room and truthfully, I was grateful for the distance. I needed space away from him. His presence honestly repulsed me.
On my daily run, I kept seeing For Rent signs everywhere. Considering we live at a high demand beach, you don’t see many of them. It felt like a sign: that I was meant to move out. As I ran, I would dream of a little beach cottage. Just me and the kids. Even if it meant living in a tiny one bedroom, I would make it work to stay where we live. To keep the kids lives the same. Schools etc. But then the realist popped back into my head and screamed, “There is no way you could handle living in a tiny apartment, even if it was at the beach. Having neighbors resting upon neighbors- so close like cockroaches. You know that would drive you nuts. You need space. Solitude. And peace and quiet. Not the sound of bottles being smashed at 2 am every weekend by inconsiderate beach dwellers.” My fantasy quickly evaporated into reality once I reached the last mile of my run.
That evening I went to bed, much the same as I had before: mentally exhausted and forlorn.
The following day, my husband seemed driven. Exuberant in his conference calls. He had a pep to his step and he was acting like a man on a mission. It was borderline annoying and somewhat delusional as I thought,” Doesn’t he realize our marriage is kaput?” As I made fresh grapefruit juice, he stood in the kitchen and asked, “Can I use your car this afternoon?” Before I had a chance to respond he added, “I made an appointment with a therapist. I have an appointment during my lunch hour. She’s covered by our insurance and highly rated online.” I’m not going to say I was impressed because after years of becoming so disillusioned, it’s going to take a helluva lot more than one appointment to reverse this marriage. But I felt hopeful in that moment. And thats a huge thing friends. Because this has never happened before.
As I walked through the kitchen, I noticed it was cleaned. Dishes done. Counters wiped. Dog fed. Sticky notes were put on cabinets with reminders to buy grocery items that he used the last of. And the trash cans were taken to the curb. All of them.
I could see he was truly trying. He’s always “tried” in the past too, but only for a few weeks and then it was back to the lazy habits. I recognize his efforts are certainly better than nothing. But truthfully, I wasn’t holding my breathe. Real effective change is a long term result which won’t be seen for a long time. I am however, quietly optimistic.
And hopeful for a redeemed marriage.