State of my Union

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Something that struck me at BlogHer this year was the amount of people I have known since the wee days of blogging who are no longer with their partners. Most had been married, and are now divorced or divorcing.

I am, as you know, still married.

I am as surprised as anyone to find myself still married. Had you asked me last spring, when I was actively looking for an apartment and preparing both Emily and myself for a life without Terrance, I would have placed Big money on the fact that I would also be divorced by this time this year.

As I looked at group of long ago "Mommy Bloggers" who evolved into so much more - Writers, Political and Pop Cultural Commentators - I wondered why I was still married. Izzy asked me point blank after we had both had several lovely drinks. I had confided in her in 2007 that I wasn't sure how much longer it was going to last. I was at what I thought was the end of my rope then, and yet here I am, three years later, still married.

So why? Why are we still together?

It would be lovely to think that we have some magical alchemy that has protected us from divorce. It would be lovely to think that Terrance and I remain madly in love and can not think of life without one another. It would be lovely to believe that Terrance and I are each others soul mates.

Alas. None of those things are true.

Initially, it was a financial decision. We didn't have the collective money to have two households. He asked me to wait until the fall, so he could save, and I could save, and we could separate households without damaging either of us too badly. As Emily has always remained our first priority, not disrupting her routine further was of utmost concern. I was looking for an apartment in the neighborhood so she would not have to switch schools, and hopefully could walk between households.

Since we decided to wait for me to move out, we separated bedrooms.  Last April, Terrance moved into the guest bedroom.  We remained respectful of one another. Quiet. The demarcating of physical space between us with the calmed the fighting and we began a holding pattern in our relationship. The tower of our marriage crumbled no further.

Nearly a year an a half later, we still have separate bedrooms. We have both said it may have been what saved our marriage, or at least postponed divorce.

Yes, you read that correctly. After 13 years of marriage and nearly 20 years of being together, my husband and I do not share a bedroom.  My bedroom remains My space. I read until I want, I watch the shows I want on TV, I flop all around the entire space of the bed to my sweaty hearts content, I keep windows wide open.  When I bought my new bed in March, the salesperson had lots of questions about my supposed bed partner. I finally had to break it to him that I didn't share my bed with anyone. Not even my husband.

Does he occasionally come in and "visit"? Slowly,surely, that part of our relationship began to heal as well. When you aren't laying next to someone wishing that their next breath would be their last, fondness can begin to return. When you aren't thinking about how desperately you need to get away from this person - this person you loved so much you once went to bed at the same time so you could just BE with them - you can gain perspective and begin to step away from the edge of the precipice. Putting the physical space between us was an unwitting first step.

Do we still argue? Yes. A few weeks ago I told him to get out of the car, as he was criticizing my driving. As in Stopped the car, turned and said "Get the fuck out of my car". His response was equally expletive laden.  So, um, Yes. We still fight.

Do I love him? Well, Yes. Of course. Father of my child, partner of the last 20 years. Of course I love him. I want nothing bad for him. We are, as I have told him, going to have to see each other for the rest of our lives. We have mingled genetic material. We are tied together through the body and mind of our daughter.

Do I look at him and think "We will be married forever"? No. I don't.

My truth is that I have no idea. I am not a starry eyed newlywed who wants to tell everyone else how I believe marriage should go, and I sure as hell am not so arrogant as to tell anyone that if they just TRIED harder they could stay married. When I read any of that kind of ass-vice, I hear the Southern grandmother voice in my head saying "Bless their Heart" - the voice that has a tinge of sad, pitying resignation of seeing someone attempt to reinvent the wheel.

No. I just don't know.

A year and a half later, the tower of our marriage has crumbled no more and the space we have given each other may be the mortar with which we rebuild, or the recycling piles into which we can deconstruct for new buildings.

8 Baleful Regards:

Ash said...

Wonderfully written. Thank you.

IzzyMom said...

I can't believe I never saw you again for the rest of the weekend. At those crazy conference things I've come to depend on texting and twitter to communicate with and find my friends and I had neither your phone # or your twitter name so instead I just looked for the loveliest ankles, most likely parked in the awesome-est shoes but alas, I did not spot you, which makes me a bit of a sad panda.

I do have photos, though, which proves you were NOT just a fabulous figment of my imagination XO

Michelle K said...

Thank you Dawn, I enjoyed this very much.

CeCe said...

Very insightful. It's very sad when people are in barely there unhappy marriages-because there is so much you miss out on living in an unfulfilling relationship. That was me at one time. I am since divorced and remarried and I plan for it to stay that way. Don't we all though? Anyways, I applaud your maturity and selflessness in working out something for the sake of your daugther.

Dawn said...

Oh, I agree Frugal - There are some people for whom this middle DMZ zone would not have worked. Some of it is our individual temperaments...some of it is what we both "expected" out of marriage. My husband has never been my best friend, for instance. I have other people who fill those roles so I never looked at him in that light.

And I am not sure it was so much maturity as first finances that necessitated the stay. And my dogged determination to not end my marriage Hating the man I married.

If there is only one thing I have learned is that Marriage is ovaries to the wall HARD and that I admire people who decide to divorce as much as I admire people people who stay married. Neither state is sunshine and rainbows.

PS Izzy, I looked for you too - Maybe it is time I get on Twitter? Aw, Shit.

Dawn said...
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Pam said...

I love this post. Every marriage is different and in order to repair a marriage you have to find what works for you. I often wonder if my ex and I had separated like you had and had our own space - would we still be together? (Ok, well that and if he didn't have a girlfriend on the side)

HUGS to you. However it works out - you will be fine.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that having separate bedrooms is all that bad. Maybe you two need a break from each other, but it doesn't have to be forever. Just as being together isn't always forever.

But I would caution to you to go slow, for your child's sake, and for your own. If there's not abuse or addiction, then see what's positive about your partner and about the partnership.

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