I’ve loved the same man for almost 20 years. His name is Frank. He has dark hair and brown eyes. I’ve only seen him without his beard once, and honestly, I prefer the facial hair. He’s handsome as hell.
He is laid back, especially when I get overly anxious about something. He can be quiet during social gatherings while I talk a mile a minute.
He stays up late but gets up early without a problem, whistling as soon as his feet hit the floor. I prefer at least a half hour of silence before I can speak to anyone in the morning, and I require eight hours of sleep to function.
He’s the yin to my yang.
Fifteen years ago, we were really ready to get married. And when we started a family immediately after we said our vows, it was what we both wanted. “Let’s have kids close together,” we said on our wedding night, and we did.
And now, three kids later, here we sit, both in agreement we would be happier living our lives separately.
I love him, but that love has changed. It’s not strong enough to sustain a marriage any longer, but it is there. He watched me give birth to our children. We built a home together. We’ve lost loved ones and taken care of each other when we were sick. We have shared enough love over the years to forgive each other for the mistakes we’ve made in our marriage, and we are using what love is left to walk away now.
The more we tried to build on that love as a married couple, the further apart we grew. We knew it was time.
He moved out two months ago, and after a few weeks of sleeping alone, I went away with my best friend for a much-needed girls’ weekend. We got massages and drove to different shops and restaurants. Before getting out of the car we would sit for at least a half hour with our hand on the door handle, neither one of us wanting to break away from our conversation.
While in the middle of a bookstore, I was thumbing through a book of poetry and my husband sent me a picture of our kitchen. He’d taken down the cabinets and tiled to the ceiling — just the way I’d wanted it. It was something I’d tried to talk him into doing for years, but we never did it.
When he moved out, I was inspired and needed a project, so I contacted a few contractors about the job and was in the process of scheduling someone to come and do it, but while I was gone and he was staying with the kids in the home he used to share with us, he decided he wanted to do it and surprise me — only he couldn’t wait so he sent a picture of his progress.
I found the nearest corner and sat there for about five minutes, crying next the to the shelves which held bestsellers. Not because I was sad, but because I was happy we still have love to give to each other during this transition — maybe more than we had before we made this decision.
I love my husband, and part of me always will, but my marriage is over. And most of the time, I feel really strong. I know we are doing the right thing. But there are moments when it stings, like when I am at the grocery store, and the nice man who has bagged my groceries for over a decade says, “You aren’t buying as much these days. Where is the steak?”
Or the day I walked into the jewelry store to have the battery in my watch fixed, and the woman behind the counter said, “You left all your rings at home today? I bet you need something new. Look at this,” as she flashed a gaudy cocktail ring in my face.
But then I think about what an amazing father Frank is, and that going our separate ways doesn’t have to end in tragedy. He’s always going to be there for our kids.
Most importantly, it doesn’t mean we are not a family. We will always be a family.
The sting fades away, and I am okay not buying the steak, and I don’t tear up every time I look at diamonds anymore.
I still love him because he is a good person. I love him because I can talk to him after a trying day of being a single mother in her 40s, and he listens. He cares. I love him because he is always going to be a part of my life.
Maybe our family looks a little different these days, but that doesn’t mean the love is gone. It wasn’t enough love to sustain our marriage any longer, but it is enough to make a happy family.