Don't Pity My Family Because We're Separating

by Jenifer DeMattia
Originally Published: 

Let’s be honest. Whoever thinks, “This is not going to work” as they are walking down the aisle? As I stared into my soon-to-be husband’s eyes, I was exactly where I wanted to be. When I was 23.

But let’s be more honest. Wasn’t there a tinge of doubt there? Wasn’t that annoying little devil on my shoulder whispering, “One day you will argue for three hours over a breadbox being open”?

For me, getting married was very much like having my first child. All of my close friends who were around my age were excited. They wanted to know about my colors, what style my dress would be, what kind of cake I was going to have. Band or DJ? Hair up or down? Would we see each other before our “I dos”? And my great task was to choose all the crap everyone was going to buy me from my registry.

My fiancé and I. Frolicking through the store debating what size pizza cutter we deserve just because we were lucky enough to fall in love.

In hindsight, we both agree we should have registered for vodka and therapy coupons.

When you are expecting your first baby, the excitement and anticipation is insane. Boy or girl? How will you decorate the nursery? Will you breastfeed or bottle feed? Maternity photo shoot? Co-sleeping? Will you make your own organic baby food? What diaper bag will you choose?

My husband and I. Frolicking through the store debating which wipes warmer we were going to request people buy us just because we were lucky enough to fall in love and have a child.

In hindsight, vodka and therapy coupons … still a good go-to gift. When you have children you can’t even find time to pee, let alone warm a wipe.

It was the older ones in my life, the saints with life experience whom I so blissfully ignored, that warned us in their own way. With a gentle, “As long as you’re happy,” or, “Marriage is like a second job,” or, “Enjoy each other before you have children because it does get harder.” I never listened or even took the advice because those were the very people I was going to prove wrong. I was fairly young when my parents separated, and it was traumatizing for me. I was never going to put my children through that.

Fast forward 10 years and my husband, the father of my two stunning boys, the man I have built a family with, is moving out.

Some will think we have failed. Some will pity us, specifically our children. But what I have come to learn, which I did not know at 23, is that my husband and I were never really fighting about the breadbox. It’s just that who we have become does not know who we were any more. And our children did not make our relationship harder; they provided us with an explanation as to why we were drawn towards each other after that first awkward date. They are also the reason my husband and I laugh together and cry together. They are the joy that keeps us from thinking we have failed, and instead help us focus more attention on what we’ve done right.

There is no party thrown for you when you separate; at least, it’s not socially acceptable yet. People get weird and, understandably, don’t know how to act. There is no frolicking down the aisle searching for crap you don’t need for people to buy you. No more monogrammed glasses, that’s for sure. Not as many invites to the party for us. I’m sure people are perplexed about which one they should invite. Angry because Facebook deceived them into thinking we would last forever.

In reality, we are disposing of the puzzle in the closet. The one that’s been missing pieces for years but you can’t bring yourself to throw away. I am disconnecting myself from the only person who knows what it’s like to sit in a room on another planet and watch two lives you created breathe their first breath. We have supported each other and stifled each other’s flame at the same time. Lifted each other up and pushed each other down. There is no party platter for this event. There is no DJ or cake. It’s too sad, although even funerals have flowers. We are trying to do it right; we are trying to maintain the foundation that led us to begin this, even though the building has finally collapsed.

And now that the dust has settled, and everyone has been informed of yet another failed marriage, I am sure of a few things. I am sure that nothing in life is for sure. I know that I was always taught you cannot fail if you have the courage to try. I know that separating has taken a lot more courage than getting married did. I know I still use my pizza cutter weekly and that therapy coupons may perhaps come off the wrong way as a gift to any happy couple.

You can’t stop love and the mad pursuit to have it, even if you know it’s perhaps wrong. It’s what makes life worth living. No one could have stopped me from marrying my husband, so asking if I would do things over again is pointless. If I’d never met my husband, I would not have met myself. We believed in the lasting power of love, and nothing has changed about that.

So don’t waste any time feeling pity for us or feeling sorry for my boys. A marriage is not a fancy dress, arguments cannot be neatly put into a breadbox, and a separation is not a death sentence to a relationship. And we don’t need a party.

Now we have no use for the vodka or therapy coupons anyway.

Let’s be honest, the root of any relationship is a solid friendship, and sometimes a plant just won’t grow. The conditions are just not right, however much you try to nourish it. Sometimes roots are all you will ever have. Only time will tell how affected my children will be by my decision. They are two boys, with two very different personalities, who will have choices every day in life, just like the rest of us. And one day they will probably have a super awkward date and fall in love. And I imagine, knowing myself the way I now do, I will sit them down, kiss their handsome cheeks, look into their love-struck eyes and say,

“As long as you’re happy.”

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