The Truth About What It Feels Like To Grow Apart From Your Spouse
We spent an entire decade white-knuckling our way through.
When my ex-husband and I announced our divorce, the people who had never been through a divorce all asked the same thing: “Aren’t you going to try and work it out?” The truth was, we tried. And tried. And tried. I was too exhausted to explain just how much effort we put into it so I didn’t. I let people think and believe what they wanted to because I needed to save my energy for myself, my family, my job, and my sanity.
Married couples never walk down the aisle thinking, this will probably be good for a few years then we’ll just give up. They truly believe their vows as they are saying them to each other. They want their marriage to work. No one thinks divorce will happen to them.
You live together, many times have kids together and share your finances, your lives, your hopes, and your dreams. That doesn’t fade away in one afternoon after a fight about not changing the toilet paper roll.
There are many reasons for divorces, yes. But I can assure you that divorce isn’t a snap decision. It’s not black and white; there are so many gray areas. You become an expert at pushing aside those voices that linger in your head and tell you something isn’t right and you deserve to be happier than this.
It started for us ten years before we separated. Ten years — an entire decade where we held on and white-knuckled our way through life. At first, we both thought it was a stage. I was tired from taking care of the kids, he was tired from working so much. Our sex life went first, then our friendship. We didn’t want to face the fact we were fighting all the time and not being intimate, so we pushed through it. That went on for a few years and made things worse.
After that, we talked about how we weren’t happy. We played the blame game. He’d done this, I’d done that. I never gave him affection and he felt the kids had replaced him. I thought he worked too much and was resentful when he wanted a weekend away with his friends or played golf for four hours when he could have spent time with me and the kids. He was stressed because he was the breadwinner and I wasn’t working. We had three kids in three years and if I worked, all the money would have to go to daycare, which he didn’t want either.
During his time off, he always wanted to do what he wanted to do. He decided the vacations and where we would go. My opinion didn’t matter. I wanted him to do things with me like cook, fix things around the house, take the kids to a hotel, or get massages. He thought all those things were a waste of money and would come home with (another) boat since sailing was his favorite pastime.
Neither of us felt seen or heard. We were both frustrated.
Then he had an affair and confessed everything to me after a month. He was deeply sorry and said he realized how much he loved me, but the lack of sex was killing him. He didn’t love her but she was interested in the same music he was, she was fun, she was adventurous, and, most of all, she wanted to have sex with him all the time.
I was (and still am) hurt and destroyed by that. Of course, she was all of those things. She wasn’t home taking care of his three kids and cooking and cleaning all day. They got the best of each other — that new exciting relationship without all the household chores, and taking care of the kids. Something my ex-husband and I had already had when we first started dating before the newness wore off and life got real.
We tried again, even though my heart wasn’t in it. I stayed with him because I love my kids so damn much, and the thought of being without them broke me in two. I couldn’t stand the thought of sharing custody and having to drop them off for the weekend. I still loved my husband in many ways but deep down, I knew I wasn’t in love with him or attracted to him any longer. That wasn’t fair to either of us.
Then, we both gave up and tried to co-exist. We tried to stay together until all the kids moved out. I tried to imagine a life with him without our kids living here anymore and I couldn’t. Neither could he. We’d grown so far apart we couldn’t close the gap. We didn’t have much in common. We didn’t like each other most days and the attraction was gone.
I was still hanging on to my kids, but he couldn’t do it anymore. We agreed to separate one night after he’d been gone for the weekend. I can still hear him say: “The writing is on the wall. I was gone all weekend. I could tell you weren’t even glad when I came home.”
That was when I finally let go. I knew the past ten years were a struggle and I had no more fight in me. I wanted to be happy and at peace. And I wanted that for the father of my children too because he really is an amazing man who deserves happiness just as much as I do.