At the ripe young age of 28 my marriage was heavily on the rocks. Not just waves breaking at the shore, more like icebergs to the Titanic. Our ship was sinking, we each had one foot out of the boat. Not fully committed to making our marriage work and swimming towards opposite shores, struggling with the loss of identity as new parents, and only been married six years. Each of us was toxic for the other where even the smallest of discussions turned into a catastrophic argument just for argument sake.
During this time we decided to see a therapist. Begrudgingly we went together and into our third session our therapist called it quits. She closed her notebook, threw up her hands, and told us to get out. We were told to leave that instance and get a divorce and so we both walked out, angry, confused. While in the parking lot we began throwing accusations at one another about who was at fault for the therapist firing us as a client.
The Blame Game
Driving home I was hot mess, literally and figuratively. Arizona heat has a way of really bringing the devil out of you. Getting divorced is all I could think about along with how our therapist just told us there was no hope. Who the hell was this woman? How dare she tell us to get divorced? What was the point of all this therapy if this was the end result. Through sobs, anguish, anger and frustration I began to grieve. Grieving the loss of my marriage, my spouse, my best friend and the idea of “us” as a couple. In this grief I took a bit of perspective as I embraced who he is, was and always will be as a man and person.
Tears flowed painfully and continuously until I pulled into the driveway. The mood when we both arrived was somber, quiet, and reserved to minimal conversation. By minimal we answered one another in simple yes or no answers. The environment was so thick – like one of those amazing dessert cakes – that you could cut it with a knife. Only our home life did not feel so sweet.
Standard routine happenings of dinner, getting our toddler ready for bed, and then trying to relax. At some point, each of us decided sleep would be best and we crawled in for what seemed to be the longest night of our marriage. I laid in bed listening to him breathe, his thoughts were like a clock ticking as I knew he was reeling just as much as myself. No longer would I cause him unhappiness, struggle, frustration, anger, sadness and especially hurt. Selfless words came tumbling out of my mouth.
Knowing we were not in the boat together I remembered this was not about me, this was about him, his future. Laying in bed with my back to him I sobbed ever so quietly to myself. Through my sobs I told him the following,
“I think we should get divorced because I want you to be happy. You deserve to be happy, even if that means we are no longer together.“
Thinking that I just lobbed an atomic bomb of arguments into the middle of our bed I laid in wait. Just as I was about to tell him more, to show my selflessness, he spoke. Mind you, during this time in our marriage we never really “spoke.” We talked at one another, accusingly, mean-spirited, bossily, heated, passionately, indifferently and like terrible managers to disgruntled employees. Feeling his sincerity, the weight hanging in the air had finally been lifted when he asked me, “Is that what you really want? Do you WANT to get divorced?”
No one really wants to get divorced, no one really wants to admit that the person they chose to love brings them such a deep feeling of loss and unhappiness. Responding to him, my heart was filled with my dreams of a lifelong relationship together. Dreams of one of us eventually dying of old age and the other to die shortly after of a broken heart. What I told him next, that despite his deep love for me, I had changed, I was no longer the person he knew and I was bringing him unhappiness. He deserved more. Our children deserved to not have a relationship where their parents were always unhappy, angry or fighting. Fear was ruling why I stayed married, this is why I always had one foot in the boat and one foot out.
Swim to Shore or Get in the Boat
With all of that I told him NO, no I didn’t want to divorce and added in the propositions and conjunctions to counter my response. Our longest night began as I bared my fear of failure as his wife, my wrongs, my desire to be better, and how I still dreamt of being his wife. He, in turn, bared his vulnerabilities, his want to be better, to help me be better, to see us better.
A moment of utter despair, loss and grief, we came together in our boat. Meeting in the middle of our boat, sobbing, neither of us wanting to give up on the other and digging in for a fight for one another, we devised a plan. Our plan was to get in the boat together, just as we did that night. Staying up all night, talking like we had never talked before, sharing our truths, our fears, our hopes, dreams, and love for our life. Getting in the boat together, staying in the boat together. Later that morning we made an appointment to see our therapist, together. She smirked and was so pleased with her own plan for us, knowing our deep love for each other and seeing we could see this storm through. As we thought our ship was sinking, with our strong wills and type-A personalities to weather the storm we figured out the only way to survive was to get back in the boat.