After sixteen years of being together, my husband and I are giving up. I posted three days ago about his telling me he’s been having an affair. People have had big reactions about that. I do too. It was a horrible thing to do.
People seem to want to take sides in this. There are no sides. Mike and I both just suffered a catastrophic loss and we are both grieving. We both need support. The side to be on is the side of our whole family figuring out a way to move through this gracefully and lovingly, to keep everyone’s highest interests in mind and heart.
The truth in the midst of this recent web of lies I find myself strangled by is that the marriage isn’t over because of this affair. Mike and I have had the same fight for sixteen years because we fundamentally want different things from life. He likes to be out in the world, and by world I mean work and his club and the poetry slam. He likes to be around people and noise, a few beers and a good shot of whiskey.
I, on the other hand, like to watch TV and garden, to come up to bed an hour before I actually want to sleep so I can cuddle and read. I want to go on vacations many times a year and travel to foreign countries.
Mike wants to go to whatever city is hosting the National Poetry Slam that year. He actually snuck away on our honeymoon to the computer lab in our all-inclusive hotel because he was going crazy not being able to check his email. He has an iPhone which buzzes with texts, emails, phone calls, and FB updates. I frequently forget to turn my cell phone on.
We’re different, but we love each other. We have loved each other for sixteen years and still do. That doesn’t mean we should be married though. And there’s no way I ever would have given up on our marriage if he hadn’t had this affair. I would have kept fighting for us.
I would have kept feeling second or third or lower on his list of priorities because his whole life revolves and always has revolved around his being at work. Luckily for him, he has really cool work. Unluckily for me, I actually wanted him to come home (and want to be there and do projects).
When the person who you love most in the world constantly tells you you’re doing it wrong or you should want something else, you are miserable. So while I’m grieving the loss of the life I thought I was going to have, I also feel a sense of relief.
Mike’s right. We love each other and are friends and great parents. We can be in each others’ lives without having to be implicated or disappointed by the others’ life choices—at least not in the way a married couple is.
That doesn’t make this any less heartbreaking. I am devastatingly sad.
While Cavanaugh and Mike played LEGOs downstairs this morning, I sobbed as I walked around the house taking down all the pictures of Mike and I and piling them up in the guest room to deal with later: our first trip to NM sitting on a rock by the Hondo bridge, him in a skirt hugging the five foot tall stuffed polar bear he won for me at Six Flags, a photo of us at our wedding kissing outside the chapel, the JCPenney pics of us on either side of Cavanaugh each kissing one of his cheeks.
I never understood people who said that love is not enough. I get it now. It’s a horrible understanding.