You are not a bad person.
You are, however, not what I need anymore.
My love for you began its downhill descent when you returned to school. With promises of a larger paycheck shortly after graduating — after all, this career field was really going to take you places and fast — we decided that you would both work full-time and go to school while I stayed home with our kids. Our daughter was about 1 1/2 and our son wasn’t quite 6 months old. For those many months, it was me who cuddled them when they were sick. It was me who rocked them when they couldn’t sleep. It was me who played with them, taught them, and took care of them.
It was me. All me.
Over the course of your schooling, I became independent of you. I had learned how to run the house and raise our kids without your presence or input. I was by myself and relied only on myself, and I got the job done.
I wasn’t bitter at the time. I believed you when you said it was going to pay off quickly. That it was a short-term sacrifice for a long-term gain. But now I sit here in a small apartment, years after you’ve finished school, while our bank account looks almost exactly the same as it did before you wanted to go back to school. The only difference in the dollar signs is that I’m putting money in there too. In addition to running our family alone, I also learned I could make some money to help our family. And thank goodness I did, because otherwise, I’m not sure where we would be.
But here we are now. And those months parenting by myself removed my ability and desire to need you, to want to hold on to our marriage. The fact is that I’m an island who shares the same bed as you. The fact is that I get irritated when you chime in on parenting decisions because all I can think is, “You don’t know. You weren’t here. You chased after a pipe dream and now we’re stranded on debt island without a rescue ship.”
The fact is I don’t need you. And I would leave you, but…I can’t do that to our children.
As the child of divorce, I know firsthand what that looks and feels like. Agonizing thoughts of “Was it me? Was it something I did?” kept me awake as a child. Father’s Day events at school were always a nightmare. Watching my mom struggle as a single mom and sacrifice her own health to make sure my siblings and I had dinner on the table. I lived these things and the scars still remain. I could leave you, but I can’t do that to our kids.
They don’t know the inner turmoil I’ve struggled with. They haven’t heard the arguments we’ve had. They haven’t seen the tears or felt the pain. They should not be punished because of decisions we made as a once happily married couple. I want them to have two parents. I want them to see us as loving individuals. I want them to see a functioning nuclear family because I never had one.
So today and every day hereafter, I will do everything I can to forgive both of us for our failures, our shortcomings, and our mistakes. I will attempt to look at you with new eyes that don’t see the past but instead the future. I will hope that we can work it out. I will pray that things will get better. I said our marriage vows in front of God and everyone and I will hold to them — not for me, but for our kids. And I will hope that they will never know that there was a point in my life where I thought that I could leave you, but I couldn’t do that to our children.