Every romantic relationship begins by burning bright and hot with the excitement of getting to know a new, exciting person and the mutual attraction shared with someone whose flaws we’re not yet aware of. Even after some of the initial mystery wears off (and the blinders are off), the bond is usually secured by the deeper affection that has grown from shared experiences and time invested in the relationship.
Some couples remain content and united after many years, and even after the physical aspects of the relationship have quieted down. Many others suffer because not enough substance is available to replace the early butterflies. The couple may no longer feel they have anything in common, are bored with one another, or even go through the motions as strangers sharing the same home.
My marriage was a victim of apathy after a decade of not properly tending our marital garden. I will own my part in letting the euphoria dwindle after my time and attention became focused on our children (one of which has special needs) and maintaining our home. He also contributed to our failed marriage by no longer talking to me or giving me attention and not helping me with the kids and our home.
In a pathetic math equation, many factors added and multiplied until our solution was divorce. In the meantime, I completely fell out of love with my husband. His actions showed me that he felt the same. From weariness, we finally landed at aversion and hostility – that’s when it was really over!
How did I cope with falling out of love with the man I married? What does one do when bliss turns to blah? Here’s how I attempted to carry on:
Acceptance. For roughly three years I just accepted the fact that we were dull. I was fully aware that our spark had burned out and we were trapped in our repetitive trap of a mundane existence, but I convinced myself that this was “normal.” Only TV and movie couples were hopelessly in love and still enthralled with each other years into the relationship – right?
I just thought that kids, a mortgage, work, and other “adult” things worked in concert to slowly suck the life out of husbands and wives, and that the most I could hope for was an occasional dinner out together or a laugh shared now and then.
Other wives I knew complained about how boring and unthoughtful their husbands were, so I figured my guy was average and I had no reason to complain. He wasn’t a drug addict or alcoholic. He didn’t beat me. As far as I knew he wasn’t cheating on me. He loved to brag about women hitting on him at work; but, I doubted he had opportunity to act on it. I mean, I could do worse – right?
Depression. The duration of feeling like a (mostly) invisible woman finally took its toll on me. I adored my children; otherwise, I didn’t feel like I had anything to live for. I needed someone to talk to, someone who wanted to share things with me and do things with me.
What I got was him glued to the TV in his recliner eight hours per day and mountains of dishes and laundry to do all by myself. Shoot me.
My escape became retreating to my room to avoid my sadness by sleeping or crying. Year after year he never even noticed me crying. He just kept staring at the TV and I felt increasingly more worthless.
Active acceptance. From the time I first realized my marriage wasn’t exactly what I hoped for and that I was the only one who seemed to be conscious and trying to do anything about it, I decided it was time to own what we were: roommates.
I was all for us going to counseling. We were clearly broken, but I think we needed to be honest with ourselves about how we lived and what we had become to each other. In counseling was the first time I openly admitted that I no longer loved him. I cared about what happened to him, but the feelings of esteem were gone.
Roommate mode. It was once I recognized that we were not normal, just pathetic, that I suggested to him that we become more realistic about who and what we were. We obviously shared a home and children, but not much else. For the sake of the children, I wanted to avoid divorcing and forcing the kids to live with their parents under two separate roofs. I offered to continue living in the same home to both be with the kids and to share expenses, but to dispense with the illusion of marriage.
I suggested that we could implement some sort of schedule to give each of us one-on-one time with the kids, and also time to ourselves. I was willing to forego the “pleasures” of marriage and adult life to just be a Mommy to my kids. He wasn’t interested in being real about our relationship if it meant that sex was off the table. Sex was so off the table!
I didn’t know at the time that what I had suggested is called “nesting.” I was honestly willing to give this solution a try. I predict that it would have eventually ended with us in the same place. I’m really not sure that it would have been any healthier for the kids. I think they would have still felt our tension and frustration. My hat is off to anyone willing to stick it out in the nest for their children!
So, here I am now divorced from the father of my children. Our life is much more peaceful now. I won’t add him to my “list of favorite people” just yet; but, I do have appreciation for him because he gave me my two children, and I know he loves them.
We fell out of love with one another, which is always a shame. I am grateful that I finally seized the guts that it took to continue my life without him. We all deserve to love and be loved. No one should have to live for just a few years or a lifetime feeling unwanted or insignificant. If you can’t love the one you’re with from the depths of your soul, you should set them free so that they can find that. Similarly, if you are stuck in a relationship where you are unloved, you deserve to be with someone who will.