20 / 20 Hindsight

Pt. II

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 He was too withdrawn.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 never.

He always.

He should.

He didn't.

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...


  1. You have a way of writing that just...I don't know...makes it seem like you GET me.

    I can so relate to your party story and your being able to see your behavior wasn't right but not being able to stop it. I have been there more times than I'd like to admit, and you have written about it so beautifully. Thank you.

  2. Hmmm, sounds like my X husband and I, literally, at any party we went to hosted by my friends...sigh...funny thing? I was the one that was the "she she she" of his list...a wonder we broke up???

  3. I wish I had such good perspective on my failed 1st marriage.

  4. This is wonderful. And you know, hindsight isn't lame, it's pretty fucking wonderful, because you always learn something about yourself. How cool is that?

  5. For a 24 year old unmarried girl, this is some educational shit.

    Cause the funny thing is, I do that "something's ALWAYS wrong" thing at the end of relationships, too.

    I thought it was the relationship going bad, all the time. Never thought about it being ME.

    (Aren't you glad I'm not married?)

  6. These past 2 entries have me seriously analyzing my relationship - not that I wasn't doing it already. Your metaphors speak volumes to me and what I'm going through. Thanks.

  7. this probably would sound like a bit of digression, but you write very well!

    Aniket (Nike) from India

  8. Kiki, I just discovered your blog thru Blogher, and it's a blessing for me. I'm recently separated from my husband of 15 years and I'm feverently hoping five years from now I can have the same kind of hindsight you do. Reading your blog makes me feel like I'm not alone in the world. You go, girl!

  9. My ex was the same way. It would drive me insane.

  10. after the initial digression, i have noticed one thing. i have been following this blog for quite a few months now. for the majority part, like minded folks seem to echo via comments. how many comments do you get where people express a different point of view, Kiki?

    i might even go to the extent of saying that i feel like differing on this post, but not enough to put up a statement. i will be returning to this blog often.

  11. hello, nike -

    generally speaking, i would like to think that i'm not opposed to dissenting opinion...or at least that i'm willing to engage in a discussion with someone who has a different opinion than i do.

    i do find it difficult, though, when people make big assumptions about me and who i am based only on an entry or two.

    so i like to think i'm open to a difference of opinion, but less so when it's couched in rash judgment.

  12. geez you guys -- don't you know it's SO much easier to write replies to comments than it is to come up with a whole new entry? where's the love?

  13. hey k.
    i haven't posted on your bloggin' in a while. but this one, got me.
    i broke up with my boyfriend of 2 years just 2 months ago. and while i'm not a party girl really, i like to spend time with my friends ... and he never wanted to go. and really, it was exactly as you wrote it.
    i will be linking this post from my blog.
    thank you for your insightful words. the way you understand yourself and share it with others. brilliant.

  14. although i hate that you're going through this, I have enjoyed reading your honest interpretation of what went wrong in the marriage. Marriage scares me. but somehow, I guess i still want it. Or, i wouldn't mind pulling a Goldie Hawn/Kurt Russell thing and shacking up as long as we both shall live. *shrug*

  15. nik...here's to shacking up, highly underrated IMO. Cheers!

  16. OMG I think you married my first husband.

  17. I lived through that scenario numerous times too k. When I was single again and dating, I definitely knew I had to go out with someone who liked people. Not necessarily a party animal but someone who didn't want to sit quietly in a frickin' cave all the time. So, its good. we learn things. We move on.

  18. i am linking this to my blog because it describes exactly my ex of two years and i in a short, succinct manner.
    nothing he could do made it all good for me. and i knew, deep down, that in the long run nothing i would do or could do for him would make it all good for him.
    and its sad. and i miss him. and i worry about him. but i can't change it.
    and i couldn't then.
    except to get us both out.

    and end it.
    (thank you for saying it in a way, as you do most things, that let me know someone out there gets me)

  19. You = Extrovert
    Former husband = Introvert

    Extroverts are energized by being around people and noise and activity. Introverts are exhausted by it. Neither is good or bad; they just are what they are. Next time around, DEFINITELY go for an extrovert. You'll have way more fun.

  20. I know I read this before, but I re-learned the lesson again. Thanks Kristy.

  21. i had this marriage, or one incredibly close to it. a long bleak winter (in wilton, right next to norwalk) coupled with a length of unemployment, built up resentments (both open and buried) and just a general incompatibility in essential needs and natures.

    it was four years of tears and promises, and while it was wrenching then so much of it has been wiped from my memory now.

    i like my ex-husband now, i like even more that he is my ex. once in awhile he will say or do something and all those forgotten things come flooding back and i know we made the right choice.

    i am grateful for my first marriage, it taught me about everything i really want and everything i don't. that information came in handy when choosing the next husband.


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