Break-ups hurt, but, breaking up a family hurts like hell. The minute I mustered up enough courage to actually entertain the idea that my marriage was not going to make it, I was thrown into an immediate depression. I was miserable. Not so much for myself. I knew that I was still relatively young enough, motivated enough and confidently attractive enough to manifest new love in my life. And not just any old love, but, the kind of love that I truly desired with a person who was truly compatible with me, with whom I could enter a beautiful working partnership. I cried, but, I didn’t cry for myself. Didn’t even cry for my daughter, really. I knew she wouldn’t lack for a father in her life. Her connection to her dad and to his family was very strong. Her intimacy and knowledge of her paternal legacy would remain consistently present throughout her life. What I cried for was for my broken dreams, and, quite frankly, my ego.
I thought I had done everything right in life. I was a good person. Went to school, got decent grades, graduated college, got a career, married pretty late in life, had my child three years after the wedding. I’m not going to lie about the fact that my husband and I had significant marital issues, issues that we had struggled with prior to marrying. So, no, our life together was not perfect, but we loved each other and I had always assumed thought that we had the maturity and the capability to fix our problems and emerge as a loving, intact family.
It’s not like we threw in the towel at the first sign of trouble. We made an effort. We entered marital counseling, whereupon the psychologist’s last words to us at our final visit were, “Divorce is not always a bad thing.” We relocated to another city and in the midst of our transition, debated undergoing counseling again. We battled back and forth until finally we wound up in the psychologist’s office again. Except, by this time, we’d both decided we just weren’t willing to try anymore. There were only two choices: live together as virtual roommates (as we had been doing) for the sake of our daughter going to bed and waking up with both biological parents in the same household or splitting up and co-parenting separately.
Honestly, I went back and forth with my decision. Some days, I was actually okay with the fact that I had willingly turned off my yearnings for emotional, mental and physical intimacy, for togetherness for the sake of preserving my marriage and my daughter’s “two-parent household status”. I was quite proud that my daughter was born legitimate, within the confines of a legal marriage that was recognized by society. Having been born to a hardworking, incredible single mom (but without Dad around), I’d always kinda’ felt like a biological mistake—the after-affect of a teen-coupling gone wrong. One of the reasons why I wanted to get married was because I was seeking some sort of legitimacy for myself. I enjoyed being a wife and was very proud of it. And to be honest, even though, my husband and I had proven to be incompatible in the areas that mattered most, I didn’t want that ‘wife’ status taken away from me. I didn’t want the shame of a failed marriage, of donning the dreaded ‘divorced label’—with all the stereotypes that it entailed: lonely, bitter, angry, wronged, etc. To avoid that, I was willing to fake the funk, to play the role, for society, for my family, for myself in order to not lose the privilege of being recognized as somebody’s wife.