Welcome to Divorce
Here's an entry I never thought I'd have to write.
On March 6th, 2015, John and I went to a nice dinner with several close friends to share news that we were expecting a little boy - Nathan Alexander! We had just dropped off Vince with his parents and shared the news with them. Everything was perfect.
Dinner was at one of his favorite sushi places. The group was alive with laughter and chatter about upcoming events like new babies, weddings and graduation parties. John and I sat at the end of the table, and I kept reaching for his hand because I was genuinely happy. Life - it seemed - was finally going as it should.
However, throughout dinner, John would say off-color things and began treating me poorly. I figured it must be work, but I didn't press the issue because we were at dinner. After dinner, since the group was having such a good time, we decided to top off the night at a favorite diner. En route to the diner, I asked him what the cause of his behavior was. If he needed to vent, I'd rather him get it out of his system sooner rather than later. He brushed it off and apologized for "taking it out on me." He promised to stop and I figured we'd talk later.
However, when we got to the diner, his treatment of me actually got worse. Again, I tried really hard to let it roll because in my head, I truly believed it was a result of stress from work. That doesn't make it right, mind you, but I was able to put my feelings aside and basically take the whipping because I figured he was frustrated and had no real outlet besides me in that moment.
When we got home, however, I told him that sort of treatment wasn't okay. I wasn't even angry at this point; I was upset for him. Obviously something was really bothering him and he wasn't being honest about it and, as a result, it was hurting him (and in effect, me). So again I asked,
"Is it work? Did something happen at work?"
And he finally responded, "It's not work. It's you. I'm unhappy with you. I want a divorce."
Just like that, his flood gates opened.
For the next two hours, he went on and on about how unhappy he is, how unhappy he's been, and how unhappy he'll continue to be as long as we're together. He complained that he lost his creative spark, he's lost friends, he's lost his ability to be spontaneous and go out with new friends.
For my part, I just sat there processing things. I barely spoke at all because I knew he needed to get it out of his system. Given the fact that he's done this so many times in the past, I figured he just needed to get it out, realize the lack of logic behind his words, and move on. He'd had a similar breakdown just after Vincent was born. I honestly assumed he was once again allowing his anxiety about children take hold of him, and whenever he gets insecure about anything (whether it be work, family, friends, etc), I'm typically the whipping post he sorts himself out on.
When he finally spent himself talking in circles, we went to bed. I mean, it was about 2 in the morning at that point. He didn't want to go upstairs, so I think he slept on the couch. I just went upstairs and numbly went to sleep.
The next morning, he apologized for getting into the topic of divorce. He said he felt terrible about it because of my pregnancy. I brushed off his apology because I still wasn't sure how I felt about everything. I also didn't trust that his apology was sincere because two seconds after apologizing, he then spent several minutes again telling me that he was sure he wanted the divorce and nothing would change his mind.
So yeah - forgive me for not trusting an apology that comes with more dumping on me.
Anyway, a few days later, he woke me up at 2 in the morning. I groggily sat up as he took the couch across from me. He wanted to talk - obviously - but wasn't sure where to begin. I was exhausted at this point because, again, it was 2 in the morning. He'd just finished playing dodgeball with his friends, so he was wired. I guess I drew the short straw for that conversation, because he was determined to have it regardless.
However, since I'd had a few days to process things at this point, I was much more ready to respond to his accusations. When he accused me of stifling his creativity, I pointed out that since he married me, he's produced two successful films, a well-received short, and helped out on several other successful projects. I actually helped him with several of those ventures by either cooking for the cast and crew, participating in the films, bringing props to the set, or just all around supporting him at home with Vince so he was able to spend days / weeks focused on those projects.
When he accused me of causing him to lose friends, I actually laughed. He likely realized how untrue that statement was, but he said it anyway. After all, my best friend and I have stuck it out since kindergarten. I have good friends from grade school and high school. I'm still friendly with folks he's long since cast aside. I'm not the one who has trouble keeping friendships alive, and I'm certainly not the catalyst for friendships he now pines away for. But to recognize that in himself would be to admit his own shortcomings, and Lord knows that's not nearly as easy as saying, "It's my wife's fault."
I'm great friends with his ex-fiancee for God's sake. The problem is obviously not me.
When he accused me of stifling his spontaneity, I laughed again. God forgive me, I probably shouldn't laugh at the reasons for his upset, but when logic dictates he's outlandishly wrong, it's almost impossible not to!
I pointed out that he's basically free to do whatever he wants whenever he wants. It's not like I'm his mother demanding he be home in time for curfew. I never get ruffled when he says he wants to go out to the bar or play dodgeball or meet up with friends at the diner. He goes to Vegas for a week every year and will also pepper in film festival trips, bachelor party stuff and visits to friends out of state.
Never, ever, ever have I given him crap for those things. I'm glad he does them because all these things make him happy. I might text him around 12:30 or something to make sure he's still alive, but I'm never "that wife" who calls up angrily demanding that he get home and be with me because I'm lonely and insecure about what he might be doing.
I admitted that being super spontaneous was a little harder now that he had responsibilities as do his other friends. No one is really able to just go hang out at the diner or take road trips without planning for babysitters and vacation days from work, but somehow, he blames me as if I'm preventing him from going out and being adventurous. Again, I'm the one who pushes to do adventurous stuff while on vacation. I'm the one who wants to go sky-diving. I'm the one who wants to go cave-diving. I'm the one who wants to parasail, try the trapeze and sneak into an off-limits resort. I'm all for doing adventurous, spontaneous stuff, but I recognize that as an adult, sometimes that "adventurous, spontaneous stuff" needs to have at least a bit of planning involved because we're adults with adult responsibilities.
That fact sometimes gets lost on him.
He then lamented how we don't have the same interests - that I've changed. Thing is, his interests have changed as well. He wasn't into dodgeball or cornhole (it's a game, I swear) when we first got married. I don't fault him for diving into these things. I even surprised him one season by participating on a team opposite his. However, he never appreciated that I did that. Instead, he complained that I didn't go enough (I missed two games on account of adult obligations) or that I wasn't as invested as he was. I realized it was about to be a poker situation. When John first taught me to play poker (and in truth, he was a great teacher), my interest was never good enough for him. He always wanted me to "get better." Once, while playing a friendly game with us and his dad, his father actually told him to back off my style because I was beating both of them without his input.
Anyway, funny thing about this is that I've typically placed higher than him in tournaments we've played in both Atlantic City and Las Vegas (on honeymoon). I've consistently done better than him at home games as well. John's a much better technical player than I am, but I'm able to read players like you wouldn't believe. As a result, John's always tried to get me to understand the technical side better to basically make me an unstoppable force. I don't have the mind he does for numbers, so I never cared to push myself in that area (in fact, it's utterly frustrating to me because it's so hard for me to grasp). To me, poker is a fun game to play now and again, but at the time, it was a huge deal to John. However, that faded as other interests cropped up for him, and the soup du jour is dodgeball (but quickly being replaced by cornhole). He's hurt that I haven't taken a more active interest in these things.
And to that point, I can at least understand his frustration. I just wish he'd voiced it sooner. I didn't realize that he wanted me as a cheerleader. I thought I was being supportive by being home with Vince so he could do those things, but he wanted my support on the actual field. Looking back, that makes sense. He took this nothing little league and built it into a dynasty that he's proud of. What started as a group of 20-30 people has turned into a massive WWE-esque community draw. He's proud of it and wanted me, in turn, to be proud of him for it as well.
The thing is, I've always been proud of him for it. I didn't realize he needed me to show that pride by going to everything, though. He wanted to share the friends he made with me whereas I just thought he was content having the independence to enjoy that part of his life like I enjoyed my Religious Education friends separate from him. Besides, I'd tried dodgeball for a season and I sucked at it. I didn't want to keep bringing a team down because I sucked. Heh. Ah well.
Then he complained about me not being physically affectionate with him. I lost my mind a bit here, I admit, because while I fully recognize I'm not a touchy-feely person, I'd gone out of my way to be more physical with him after I realized just how much it upset him. In fact, for the last two or three years, I've been the one initiating most physical affection. He acknowledged the truth of that, but instead of appreciating it, he said that it all came "too little too late."
So basically, he told me that I never had a chance to "make up" for my lack of physical affection because he never actually forgave me for it. Honestly, I wave the BS flag on that. I've forgiven him for countless things over the years. This particular transgression is fully mine to ask forgiveness for (which I did), but he withheld that forgiveness even after seeing the lengths I went to get past my own personal struggle with physical affection. Shame on him. That made me really angry because physical affection is not something I am comfortable with at all. I hate cuddling (ABHOR is probably a better term), I despise sitting on top of each other on couches, and holding hands gets old fast. However, once I understood that physical affection is apparently his love language, I made a point to put my own inhibitions aside and initiate these sorts of things.
And finally, he brought up the fact that he never wanted kids and now here he is with a "second" on the way (because, again, Myla will never count for anything to him). I was incredulous, because the choice to have another child was HIS. HE suggested it. He said he couldn't stand seeing me so upset, so he figured giving me a child would make me happy and stop him from seeing me upset. Again, this wasn't an act of love on his part, folks. This wasn't an act of "I want to grow our family and multiply love." No no. This was him trying to ease his guilty conscience. Getting pregnant right away was somehow my fault, though, because again, I can't do anything right.
Apparently I'm not good enough in any way because as he pointed out, again and again, nothing I do is good enough.
Mind you, that's total sarcasm on my part because I fully appreciate just how much I've done to appease him throughout the years. I'm more than good enough. However, none of that rang true for him because he wanted to push forward with divorce so he could "find happiness."
I'm sorry, but if that boy can't find happiness with a woman who allows him his freedom, doesn't make ridiculous demands of him, gives up her dreams of a large family, doesn't fault him for having a different belief system than hers, and tries her hardest to put him first in all things at the expense of her own heart... he'll never find happiness.
I've given him three children - one of which is awaiting him on the other side of the veil. I've striven to be the best mother possible for them. I've tried to make our home a happy one despite his bipolar tendencies (constantly going back and forth on if he's happy or not). I've swallowed my pride again and again as he's spoken maliciously about me to his family / friends though I'd never do that to him.
But he thinks he'll find a woman who will make him happier? Sorry. If I don't make you happy, kid, no one will. And I told him that. His depression and feelings of insecurity come from inside - absolutely nothing I've ever done or do will change that.
Once I realized that, I realized there was nothing I could do to prevent the divorce. In his mind, this is his only option to "find happiness." He then suggested that maybe he just needed time away to realize what he's got.
I said, "No. Marriage doesn't work like that. Family doesn't work like that. If you proceed with the divorce, I will not take you back. I will never set that as an example to our children. I will never allow them to think that it's acceptable for a husband to go back on his vows to sow his oats and then come back because there's nothing else out there."
I will never allow my children and I to become "second best."
Besides, that's what your dating life is for. Once you vow to be with someone, you stick it out with that person and find ways to make the marriage work. You don't just give up because you're butterflies have fluttered off. I NEVER want my sons to think that this is acceptable behavior because I want my sons to grow up into men - not boys posing as men.
Men take their vows seriously. Men prioritize their wives and children (and not just financially). Men strive to protect, appreciate and nurture their blessings.
I plan to raise my boys with those values, so taking John back would have the opposite effect, I think. Besides, even if I do take him back, he'd likely fall right back into blaming me for his own misguided logic. Again - not something I ever want my boys to witness as their example for what it means to be a man.
So by 4 in the morning, I closed the conversation because I was too tired to respond anymore. I was truly disgusted by him at that point - something I hate to admit because it sounds so cruel. In truth, though, I was. I was also disgusted with myself for having put up with such immaturity for so long... for making so many excuses for him.
And that was that. I told him I would never sign divorce papers. I was clear before we got married about this and while we were going through various issues. I do not believe divorce is right in our situation, but I understood I couldn't stop him from seeking one. However, I stipulated that once he murdered our marriage through divorce, I'd give it a proper burial with an annulment.
As I drifted off to sleep, I realized that this entire conversation happened on March 11th - the day he proposed to me 10 years ago.
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