A bit of clarification…

By some people’s estimation, my generation values authenticity, and I think that that is a pretty fair generalization…   Just speaking from my own anecdotal perspective, I do find it obnoxious when people pretend to be something they’re not, or to be living a life they aren’t actually living.  So, with a desire to be sincere, honest and just “get a few things off my chest” (not that I’m ever really all that “fake” actually), I have decided to open up about a subject I sometimes get the sense that people have misunderstood: my marriage.

In the last year or so I went through a period of time when I was separated from my husband, even though we were living together…   I tried to explain the situation as best I could, but I think people still came to a few incorrect conclusions and right now, I feel the need to clear up those misconceptions.  At least a little…

One thing people seemed to assume (despite what I said otherwise) was that we were fighting a lot and that that contributed to the separation…  In truth, my husband and I have rarely fought that much for years.  When we do argue it’s about something like my husband deciding (with his admirable sense of duty) despite having a high fever, chills, and only having slept for two hours the night before (because our son has been awake most of the night) to go to work.  In that sort of situation, after I suggest he go sleep for a while he will often fight with me before he is convinced he needs the rest.  Those are our fights nowadays…  Seriously.  My husband and I are best friends and we discuss almost everything in that emotional context of friendship, trust, acceptance, loyalty and genuine love so there’s little to fight about.

To some people that might sound like an entirely good thing but I’m not so sure about that actually…   I think fighting in a romantic relationship (respectfully) can be a very positive thing…  I think if you’re not people who are generally prone to getting angry or fighting, and you’re having problems in your relationship, that if you’re still fighting together it can mean that you’re both still emotionally invested or that there’s somewhere left to go with things.  My husband and I used to have absolutely awful, horrible battles, but at some point they became pointless (although we did have one in the last year or two)…

Then, there have been some comments made to me in private by people who want so badly to be married that they seem to think almost any marriage is better than being single.  Those sort of people get upset, start self-pitying and become offended if you suggest a marriage without spousal abuse, addiction, or…  some other creature out of hell is truly painful or problematic.   And really, I don’t know what to say to those individuals other than “raise your standards” and “you have no idea what you’re talking about so please just shut up.”  Seriously.

Really though…  as much as a person shares about their marriage, and as much as people can try to be understanding and empathetic, the only two people who will ever truly know what happened are the people involved…  But, despite that, I want to continue on about a few more things… 🙂

See, what happened is this (at least from my perspective, which has grown in clarity over time): my husband is a very different sort of person than me.  And I don’t mean that in a good or bad way, necessarily….  But it has been problematic in that, at the time we were building the foundation of our relationship, as much as we enjoyed each other’s company in every sense, we could never really hear each other…   Our differences were too big to naturally allow for it.  There were vast mountains, rivers, worlds…  probably universes between us…   And, while we understand each other MUCH better now, that peace and knowledge between us is rooted in our present awareness of our limited ability to ever really “get” each other.  And that place is somewhat good (there’s peace and tolerance) and somewhat heartbreaking (bit of seemingly incurable loneliness).

Where does that leave us?  I don’t know…  Since moving to Seattle our lives have been crazy and at times truly terrifying (our son’s health issues this past winter) and we’ve been so focused on surviving and moving forward that we haven’t spent a lot of time trying to get counseling, etc.    We made an unspoken decision to end our separation last winter though while we were going through the worst of it with our son, because we really needed each other.  And our son needed us to be a united mom and dad…   It all kind of flung us together, so to speak…

But anyway, the other major obstacle in our marriage is… well…  we fell in love at different times, and in different ways since we are such dramatically different people.  So, sadly, I think, the love we’ve had for each other in and of itself speaks to a sort of deep incompatibility.

I fell for my husband quickly.  And passionately (but sincerely)…   Everything about him and his very essence was just enthralling to me.  I loved just being in his presence.  I actually lost some weight at first because I didn’t eat enough…  I was too distracted.  I just felt overwhelmed (in a good way) and I analyzed and cherished every word he said – our flirty little texts back and forth everyday, our phone conversations and our great dates.

He, on the other hand, thought I was fairly attractive at first and kept making plans to see me because he wanted to, but that was about it…  Or at least that’s the level of interest and admiration he openly admitted to me at the time.  He now claims he felt something deeper and thought I was more than just somewhat attractive, but I suspect (for lots of complicated reasons – but mostly because I remember what it was like back then) that that’s not entirely true and is more his way of trying to rewrite things a bit to make me feel better about our relationship…  Although, it’s possible there was at least something more there than he acknowledged at the time, because in my gut, at that time, I felt something more was going on in him…  It’s one of the main reasons I kept seeing him besides (the biggest reason) being head over heels for him.  When we were together it was just so good.  It was during the inbetween time (between dates and conversations) that he seemed to cool.  I was always anxious at the start of all our meetings and interactions because of this chill and then he’d seemingly “warm” to me again in the middle of our interactions and we’d have a lovely time…

So anyway, I’ve shared a lot of this before, but it bears repeating in this context maybe…   For the first six months he slept with many other people on numerous occasions, had an affair with a married woman (who, out of misguided compassion, I stupidly tried to counsel), asked many other people out, and etc….  Some would say (and did) that he “strung me along” and that could be true, except I eventually didn’t let him…  I got too hurt.  And even though I had tried dating two other guys who were interested in me at the time to “keep up with him,” it got too confusing, really awkward and painful for me.  It just wasn’t for me.  I started falling for one of those other guys too (although to be honest I felt more strongly about my husband) and then I just felt guilty and ashamed.  So my friends kept encouraging me to confront him… And I did, but more on that in a bit…

First I think I need to establish that, as genuinely caring as he really is, he’s not exactly the most innately perceptive or emotionally aware person…  For example, I used to watch girls flirt with him in front of me almost every time we “hung out”and he would always flirt back even though I was right there.   And he claims, and I truly believe him, that he really did not realize how that was actually affecting me…   He was not a malicious person who purposefully tried to flirt to hurt me.  He was just that lacking in perception.   It sounds unlikely maybe for a grown person to not get how that could be hurtful, but given how well I know him now, I don’t think he did…  And I think that’s an important distinction to make in regard to his character…

However, he could also say incredibly unkind things and disregard people’s feelings to the point that I actually wondered if he was a narcissist for a while, but again he isn’t and wasn’t…   Again, I’m pretty much 100% certain that he just honestly, amazingly (from my perspective) and sincerely didn’t fully understand what he was doing and how others would truly feel.  And I’ve had counselors in the past confirm this perspective on him…

See, the thing is, he has empathy for other people but he lacks awareness.  You have to spell things out for him sometimes.  But once he truly understands how things are affecting people he really cares.   And in the years since he has dramatically, and drastically changed…    Seriously.   He’s really a very unusual, complicated, wonderful and genuinely beautiful person…

And as much as some things have escaped him over the years, he is brilliant in other ways…    He’s also quite responsible.  He was then too to be accurate (although he was an alcoholic then and that lessened his sense of duty)…  My husband had been a successful actuary for six years at the age of 27 (he skipped a grade in elementary school and started college early), spoke almost fluent French, was well traveled, had read a decent amount, ran two full marathons, and I could go on and on…  And he was fun!  Oh so soo much fun…  No wonder all those women adored him…  And he was very handsome.  He also came from a very respectable and accomplished family.

I, on the other hand, had wanted from the moment I realized what love and romance were, to find someone (or more preferably have them find me) and date for a while (not “hang out”) almost exclusively, if not totally exclusively…  and then if we wanted date exclusively…  and then if we wanted get engaged and then married.  And, I dreamed of that whole process starting with some magical and almost spectacular moment, or a series of beautiful moments…

I was also very “inexperienced.”  And I was a tender-hearted, reserved and (or so I’ve been told) emotionally perceptive person…

I came from an evangelical background despite my parents also being hippies in their youth…   They had both been “born-again” in the 1970’s and they raised me with a rather unique combination of liberated, feminist, and populist ideals and conservative, “spirit-filled” Christianity.   So, being taught those views, and with the natural predilections of my soul, I wanted to wait for marriage ideally or if I’m being really honest, true love, to have sex…

So at the age of 26, never having found true love and never having been married, I was a virgin…  I was also “innocent” in other ways by a lot of people’s standards.  And, for most of my life I’ve found being called “innocent” to be an insult given the actual pain and tumult I experienced for most of my childhood, but now, as an adult in my early 30’s with a toddler who has a personality a bit like mine, I’m proud of that label.   I now recognize that it wasn’t stupidity, naivety or pure ignorance that created that “innocence” as some implied…  It really just stemmed from a sincere attempt on my part to be a good person (i.e. my last post)…   I see the same authentic sweetness in my son and frankly it scares me because I know how vicious some people can be when they think you care (especially during childhood)…  Sadly.

Anyway, I met my husband at that age and given our differences we clashed in a profound and truly tragic way.   As I said, I eventually told him he needed to just date me or I’d end things.  He eventually did just date me and then I told him he needed to stop drinking (because he was an alcoholic at that time too) or I’d end things and he did…  He’s been sober for almost six years.  And despite many painful moments where he left me questioning if he cared at all, after a while we became very serious because he eventually told me he loved me and at that time I still deeply and wildly loved him…

So for a while (a few years) we loved each other at the same time, but I’d say I still loved him a lot more than he loved me for at least the first part of that.   But it didn’t stay that way, because while he was still growing in romantic love, I was actually on the decline…  I had never felt totally sure that I was really wanted and for a few years, as I said, he could still be very hurtful, however truly unintentionally.  (And just to reiterate again, he’s a very different person nowadays)  So, as profoundly as I loved him I eventually started to fall out of love…  It took about three years, but it happened.  And to this day, as much as he insists he loves me when I ask him…  I’m still never entirely sure what he really feels.  And that could sound contradictory given how I just said he started to eventually love me, or even crazy to some people who know us, given who he is as a person and how he acts towards me, our son and my family, but I’m not…  and it’s just the way it is.  It’s all emotionally and logically somewhat dissonant but it’s the real, confusing, and complicated perspective I have.  At least for now…

And truth be told, I think he really might be the sort of person who can grow into romantic love over time or quickly.  Maybe a lot of people are like that.  But I’m the sort of person who knows pretty quickly how I feel, and I can anticipate with a lot of accuracy whether or not I’m ever going to fall in love.  Also, I guess, if I feel (or am) too rejected, profoundly hurt or really thwarted in love over a period of years (he took a long while to love deeply, beyond just being in love in the first place) I eventually can fade in my affections, and I’m honestly not sure if I can get them totally back or not…  Even if I was totally convinced he loved me, I don’t know if it would change that much or not.

Also, part of my lack of hope is due to what I mentioned earlier.  I can see now how little, sadly, we “get” each other even when we really try.  There are a lot of things (even very important things) I know he’ll likely never understand or be able to connect on…  I find that crushing.  But given my husband’s love style this doesn’t bother him as much as it bothers me…  I think he plans to understand them all very slowly over time.  Haha..  And again, I’m not sure if it’s possible for me to deal with that given my nature.

But, I love him as just a person.  Deeply and dearly…  I love his soul passionately.  And I know he loves me in a similar way…  I know he cares profoundly about me as a person.  Again, we really are best friends.

So…  does that all calculate to enough in one way or another?  Does it all add up to divorce or a lifetime of marriage?  I don’t know…  Maybe it’s obvious to you as a reader (or not), but being in it it’s harder to know…  We’re still trying to figure it out and we’ll be getting more counseling… of course.  

Oh, and just to add more clarity…  He has never cheated on me in any form since we’ve been married or since he was sober (he stopped drinking a while before we were married).  And, for the sake of real honesty, I should say that while I’ve never been physically unfaithful there was one man I emotionally crossed lines with, about a year ago, and it would be considered cheating by a lot of people’s standards…  It didn’t last that long, but it happened…  And I told my husband every damn bit of it from start to finish.  I tell him everything.  He didn’t get jealous really much at all (which bothered me actually, although I was glad I didn’t hurt him much)…  but he did care and he was a good friend during it all.  The romantic interactions with that person ceased, but after that I did wonder if my marriage was just totally dead…  So, that was when I thought we should try a sort of separation.

I’ve had a number of other clear offers to cheat in various ways over the years that I didn’t accept and so has my husband…  But, I’m not going to lie and say that both my husband and I haven’t met, encountered or at least seen people we wonder (we talk about it all) if we might be able to love more than we’ve loved each other…  But…  given all the variables and the fact that right now neither of us are at all promiscuous (and neither are people we have appreciated from a distance necessarily)…  nothing has ever happened that was serious or at least clear enough to be considered cheating, much less end our marriage (again I had one emotional but still romantic relationship that never turned physical).  But that’s still sad…  isn’t it?!  That’s not a good place…  Ideally you shouldn’t be so close to the edge…  Right?

But all that to say…  I no longer judge people who have affairs.  I don’t.  I was never a cheater in any of my relationships…  Ever.  And in the past I would have blindly judged people for cheating.  Hands down.   Black and white.  But… no longer.   Not that I’m advocating cheating, and I think at the very best it’s still wrong, impractical, stressful, draining and often futile, but…  I no longer think the people involved are necessarily “bad people” with “bad intentions.” (Maybe I never really believed that anyway though!)  And I no longer think relationships that start that way are necessarily inherently doomed or totally evil.   But I do think they are almost always hurtful to somebody at some point (more than an average relationship), so I think (again, not that I’m advocating it or saying it’s moral) if you’re going to cheat you better be sure you know what you’re doing and it better be for the right reasons (as bizarre and/or shocking, immoral and weird as that sentence might sound to some people)…

So there it is: my marriage in a nutshell. I’ve probably shocked some people at this point…  Oh well.  I’m not ashamed…  I’m not saying I’m totally innocent or flawless, but…  I try…  I think most of us do…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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