five years provides perspective.
now i can think about the rise and fall of my marriage in a very neat little package.
now i can see what was wrong from the beginning, and how it got worse, and how it became unfixable.
now i can tell the story chronologically, as though it were a clear path from marriage to divorce, from infatuation to not being in love, from working to not working.
but at the time, i had no idea. i couldn't SAY i didn't want to be married anymore. there was no clear path. it had not been all downhill. it wasn't all bad. the end wasn't evident. nor was what "wasn't working." i didn't know what was wrong. i didn't know why i felt bored. i didn't know why i wasn't happy.
i didn't know it was me.
* * * * * * *
By our fifth year together, I was increasingly unhappy with my husband. It seemed something was wrong every day. He worked too late. He was too withdrawn. He never wanted to go places.
He could have.
He might want to consider.
He he he he he he he.
God. Nothing he did seemed to make me happy.
Hmm. Red flag, anyone?
I recently tried to explain to a friend of mine how it was that I had become such a Mrs. Nagging Bitch. Because I was. Oh, I was. I could hear me and my "why do you always"ing and I couldn't understand where it came from or why I couldn't seem to stop.
And this example, which also serves as metaphor (don't you love them?) is what I came up with.
We are invited to a party hosted by someone I work with. My initial reaction is "Yay! A party!" It's on a Saturday night and there will be lots of people there I've never met and this will be a chance to get out of the house AND to meet new people.
I go home and I tell my husband. His reaction is more subdued than mine. He doesn't know my colleague, and he won't know anyone at the party except me. He doesn't like forced socialization, he doesn't like crowds of people, and he doesn't like to drink.
So what do we decide to do?
We will go to the party, because both of us agree it was nice to be invited, and it is nice to have something to do on a Saturday night. However, I agree that we will not stay too late, and that I will go willingly when David asks me to leave (as opposed to my drinking too much and arguing with him that we neeeeeeeeeed to staaaaaaay).
And what actually happens?
We go to the party. I spend the entire time flitting about, meeting as many people as possible. David spends the entire time nursing a beer, maybe two, chatting with the couple people I introduced him to and basically tolerating the crowd. And JUST when I finally start to feel comfortable and the party really starts going, David tells me he is ready to leave.
I now have a dilemma. I do NOT want to go, because I am having the best time I've had in months. But, right: I promised I would. So we leave, only I'm clearly not happy about it (just as it was clear that David didn't really want to be there in the first place). I get pouty and sad on the way home, because David never wants to do anything fun. He is frustrated because his efforts are never enough for me.
So what is the lesson? What did I learn?
Well, look. We all know that compromise is part of any long-lasting relationship. We have to pick our battles. And other cliches and blah blah blah.
So sure, another option/compromise would have been to leave David at home and go to the party by myself.
But the truth is, the ONLY thing that would have actually made me happy was David wanting to go to the party in the first place.
And, right. He didn't. And no amount of nagging or coaxing or wishing or hoping would ever change who he was or what he wanted. I could get him to go to the party, but I was never going to be able to make him want to be there.
Turns out, you can't nag someone into changing who they are. Go figure.
* * * * *
As for my party-going ways... the happy addendum is, of course, that I realized a few additional things. Like, that going to the party* by yourself only sucks if you have to leave someone at home to do it. Otherwise, it can be a rockin' good time.
Plus, you never know who you might meet there.
*it's my metaphor and i'll cry if i want to...