There’s been a space in my bed for some time. Not literally — with three standard pillows, two throw pillows, one body pillow, myself, my husband, and two young children, my queen reached capacity long ago — but figuratively. Emotionally. There is a chill in our room no space heater can blast away. No comforter can cover up.
Of course, I know why. For the last few months, my husband and I have been struggling. Communication is a problem. Parenting is a problem. We are on two different wavelengths. He is a yeller while I prefer to take a more tempered approach. And intimacy is a problem. Hugs and kisses only occur during sex.
We do not “cozy up” or cuddle.
We sit on opposite ends of the couch.
But knowing when things changed and knowing the cause of said change is different, and I do not know the “why.” When my husband and I began dating at the ripe old age of 17, we couldn’t get enough of each other. We passed notes in school, spoke on the phone every night — though only after 9:00pm, when minutes were free; when we could stay on the line just to listen to each other breathe — and in college, we “lived” together. I spent half the week in his dorm, and he spent half the week in my off-campus apartment. We were touching at all times. And yet sometime between then and now, my feelings changed. My heart changed, and while I can honestly say I still love my husband, I’m not sure I’m still “in love” with him.
Being together is less infatuation and more obligation. We have a past. A home. A family. There were vows exchanged. Words spoke. I said “in good times and bad. Until death do us part.”
How did we get here?, I wonder. What went wrong? I mean, I know the dynamics of relationships are ever evolving and teen love looks very different than 30s love or even 40s love, but I worry our changes are different. Did we marry too soon — and too young? Is the emptiness in my heart really due to the absence of love or the absence of feeling in my life? I struggle with mental illness (and have for many years) and one of the symptoms of my illness is numbness. I have a hard time being present or feeling anything at all.
I also wonder if our problems have anything to do with my sexuality, which if I’m being completely honest, I have been questioning. In my teens, I began identifying as a bisexual, but my love for (and of) women has only increased with age. I hate having sex with my husband because I do not get turned on like I am “supposed” to. Fantasies about women get me aroused but not men. Never men.
Make no mistake: Saying this out loud is upsetting and embarrassing. I am angry with myself, for misleading my husband and (potentially) ruining my marriage. I am broken by the thought of hurting my children if and when I decide to move forward with the big “D.” They deserve loving parents and loyal parents. They need a safe and happy home. And I feel selfish. In so many ways, staying seems easier. Financially, mentally, and emotionally.
I like my husband well enough — and, in many ways, still love him — so is there really a problem? Is this feeling a reason to leave or a season? Will it pass? I don’t know. I really don’t. But I do know that if want to grow and be happy, I need to be honest. I deserve it. My husband deserves it, and our children deserve it.
Happiness isn’t a luxury; it is a right.
So I plan to approach my husband. I plan to talk to my husband, and I am getting my ass back into therapy because before I can help “us” (or figure out if there still is an “us”), I need to help myself. I need to better understand the thoughts in my head and the feelings in my heart.
Does that mean we are destined to get a divorce? I don’t know. Maybe. I have no idea what tomorrow may bring and what marriage counseling may hold. But I am going to walk through the darkness with or without him.