In the midst of a How I Met Your Mother episode, a little tip for surviving a breakup made its way into the storyline. Ted, forever love-seeking, is giving Barney advice on how to get over his recent breakup with Robin. The method is simple. Write a letter to your future self explaining why the person or relationship should be avoided.
The letter was a device I’d invented to remind myself why I’d broken up with somebody. I’ve been doing it for years. ~ Ted Mosby
The show then follows a series of flashbacks, with Ted in different states of distress writing letters to his future self. In one of the letters Ted starts off with the sarcastic salutation, “Dear Relationship Genius”.
I like that.
It fits in with how I feel. Let’s face it, with my track record, I’m not batting well enough to be on the good side of the Mendoza Line. No matter what I tell myself or as brightly as I look at the future, the writing is on the wall – Husband #2 is not interested in being “married”.
My definition on married is not limited to the piece of paper we received on our wedding day.
Marriage to me is a relationship state, one where two people cohabitate a vast majority of the time, where daily ups and downs are shared, futures are planned, and toes are warmed on cold nights. My terms of marriage include being there for the good and the bad, having a person in your corner when you need help, and working out the compromises that come with sharing space and resources.
I know that Husband #2 likes living by himself and his plans for the future don’t include me. No matter how well we travel together or how open our weekly conversations, we are not a couple. Instead, we are two people in a really small group therapy session that just happen to have different sides of the same story.
The time will come soon when I’ll push my chair away from the table, stand up, and say, “This isn’t working for me”.
I’ve penned this letter for when I need it:
Dear Relationship Genius,
Once again you are looking at future divorce papers. What gives?
Husband #2 is a great guy for you but he doesn’t want to be in a serious relationship. So until he is ready, he’s not the person for you.
There will be a time in the future when you will miss Husband #2 but you have to let go of that feeling.
Sure, he’s got many good qualities that will attempt to suck you back in… he’s charming, he’s handsome, he’s smart, he’s a great travel partner, he is interesting, he’s got nice hands, and he’s a good kisser. Let’s face it, he’s as perfect for you as they come in this imperfect world. He was the one for you, which is why you married him.
But he’s told you he’d rather be alone than live together. He’s said he’s not ready for a relationship. He’s happy with the status quo of living time zones apart and having an occasional vacation together.
Which means he’s not the perfect person for you.
Stop and let go of your dream of being with him. This is not the relationship you signed up for. It is good for him but not so good for you.
Is this really the example you want to set for your kids?
Imagine for a moment that Son #1 faced this situation. What advice would you give to him? Would you encourage him to stay with someone who didn’t want to be with him, except for 40 days out of the year? No. You would tell him how much he is worth and that there are plenty of other fish in the sea.
So when the urge to call hits, remember that you accomplished your goals for the two years you’ve been separated:
- you worked on yourself
- you established intimacy and opened up your authentic self
- you learned to communicate better
- you handled conflict better
- you clearly spelled out your expectations for a future relationship
- you looked for the exceptions
And, most importantly, you drew a line in the sand for a relationship that was going nowhere.
Husband #2 just wants different things. It doesn’t matter how much he loves you or you love him, as long as he wants to stay apart, he’s not the one for you.
Maybe you are becoming a Relationship Genius… You’ll only know if you try again. Don’t give up on love. Don’t ever give up on love.
December 2014 Me