For two people on the road to divorce, we talk pretty regularly… every Wednesday and Sunday for at least an hour. Our conversations are varied. Sometimes we discuss religion. Sometimes we talk about movies. On Sunday we talked about going on vacation together.
Not just any vacation. A cruise. A vacation that would trap us both with each other for an entire week with no way to run. Yes, that sounds a little weird when you’re in a crumbling marriage and separated by 700 miles, but it’s who we are. As Husband #2 puts it, he’s addicted to me. As I put it, I’m saying “Yes to life” and giving it my all for at least a year.
If you saw us together on our cruise, you would think we were one of the happily married couples destined to celebrate many future anniversaries together. We travel so well together. Confused? Head scratching is encouraged. We’re both wondering where our relationship is headed. We’re just as bewildered as you are.
Our Sunday call was on the hopeful side this week. Husband #2 wants to take me on vacation to the Caribbean, his treat. The only stumbling block was with his current employer. With his status as a relatively new employee, he didn’t know if he could get the time away or if he would even qualify for vacation. He had to talk to HR about his future plans before we could make the decision to book or not book.
There it was. A sentiment from his lips that I thought I would never hear. I was so happy I broke out in tears. With a ragged voice, I said, “This is the first time that I’ve ever felt I was more important to you than your job.” And then I really lost it.
I’m sure that Husband #2 considers me more important than work, and probably always has, but my perception of past behavior has lead me to believe that I ranked somewhere around 3rd on his list of priorities. My perception was my reality. I felt less than special. I didn’t feel cherished. I certainly didn’t feel like I was the MVP of Husband #2’s life. Sunday was the first time that I felt I was in the #1 spot.
Would I ever expect him to quit his job for me? No.
When we talked again on Wednesday, I thanked him for his comment. He shared with me that he’s always loved me deeply and would have done anything for me. He thought that I would be the type who would want him to quit his job. No, that’s not me. That was his perception, his reality. We just perceived each others’ actions differently.
Which lead me to another piece of information I gleaned over the last few weeks. When we take on different roles, we force our partners to take on the corresponding role. For example, by taking on the role of victim it forces us to put our partner in the role of villain. Are they really a villain or are we just wrapped up in having a bad day, week, month, that we need a scapegoat to point the finger at?
I’ve decided to change the conversation.
Instead of saying, “you just don’t know how hard I’ve had it today!” I’m going to say something more productive like, “It was a rough day and I need some soothing so I don’t take it out on you. Please give me the ____________ (space, time, backrub, martini, bathtub, sympathetic ear, whole bottle of asprin) I need to just vent for a while. Then I promise to listen to you without judgment when you have a bad day, too.”
Who knows? This might even work. It’s a possibility I’m willing to explore.