Things change, perspectives change, desires change, and feelings change. This is no large epiphany, even for one like me. I couldn’t imagine a year ago that I would be sitting in my own place typing a blog about the demise of my marriage, and the ongoing saga of taking care of my kids, and managing my wife. A year ago I was scrambling to save my marriage. I was appeasing her whims, and she was drinking it up like a little princess, but she wasn’t being convinced that anything was worth staying for. A year ago I hugged my wife and was crying over the fact my father was near death from lung cancer, and was left feeling worse for the lack of the simplest empathy I received from her. It was cold. It was the moment I realized that there wasn’t really any hope. Shortly after this she looked at me in a store, and said “So, do I get a new ring if I decide to stay.” Further confirmation that she no longer cared to honor her vows, but might take a bribe to stay a little longer. I continued to try, but I also had to begin thinking of what life might be like a part. A year ago I valued my marriage for the commitment, the promise to her before God, and the family it provided for my children. A year ago I believed that she would grow up and be a big girl and honor our vows, even if it required a new agreement of what our relationship would look like. A year ago I would have believed that my children were better off if we were together, and that I was a better father married to their mother.
Now I am piece by piece separating our lives. I am working on having as many details figured out and working before we go through the process of divorce. I am putting back together my reputation at work that has suffered while I was floundering to save my marriage at home. I entertain only the whims of my wife that give me even more time with my children. Now, I hug my friends and cry to them as we have to deal with my father’s brain cancer, and hope that it too can be treated. I play soccer every week now, something I never was given time to do before. I spend my time wondering why she stayed to watch the game when she dropped off the kids. I am starting to have a vision of life with her on the periphery, while I do my part to raise my kids, and love them to the best of my ability. I try to buffer the damage of her constant rage with with the kids. I am rebuilding relationships that were lost in the isolation of my marriage. I no longer believe that our children are better off with us together, because I was not a better father married to her their mother.
I am a believer in marriage as God created it. I believe even with the fallen state of man, because God created it for fallen man. My perspective has changed, because we no longer have marriage. With the constructs that we call marriage today, what we have is some strange dating ritual people enter into often after some long period of traditional dating, but that is not required. Divorce is something that has always been a part of marriage, but it has always had shame and consequences for the parties involved attached to it. The current state of things clearly has taken away any real consequence for women. The power women have in marriage and divorce destroys the credibility of modern marriage. Men are relegated to some sort of servant status in both situations should the woman choose to pull the triggers that make it happen. Not all women do, but they all can.
I believe that two parents working together as a married couple to raise children is the absolute best situation the kids. What I am struggling to believe is that it is good for my sons to see me treated as something a step above the family dog. I also struggle that it was better for my relationship with my kids to be constantly trying to mediate the tension of an angry woman and hurt children, and to meet out the punishment so that their mother could cool off, because she would continue to escalate the situation. The children would probably have a better relationship with her if we stayed together, but they would lose the influence I have on them now, because I had no time to do anything other than be in the middle. The additional stresses on my children make me sad, and if both of us were willing to work on the marriage to make it healthy, then being married and in the same home would have been better. Amazingly, my parents, my best friend, my sister, and our friends have all pointed out that I and the kids are probably better off over time in this. What is surprising is all these people I think of are strong Christians who are quick to condemn divorce, and generally actively work to preserve marriages. I had no idea how my marriage looked to others. That is new perspective.
I used to desire marriage. I wanted what my parents had. I was willing to work for it. I thought I chose someone who also valued those things. I overlooked a lot of things that I now know should have been red flags. Now my desires don’t include a wife. Not just the one that I have had, but any wife. I love women. I love how they feel. I love how they talk. I love how they make me feel when they care. All of that doesn’t matter anymore. I can have that in small doses, so long as it doesn’t interfere with me and my kids. My kids don’t need a stepmother to mess with their lives and to compete for my attention. Perhaps my desire will change in this, but for now all I desire is to do some of the things I gave up, so I could have a marriage. I desire to write a book. It doesn’t have to be published or even read by anyone else. I just want to write one for the pure enjoyment of writing. I want to spend more time doing photography. I have enjoyed the art of photography since high school, but I gave that up because it took time away from my energy sapping marriage. I will write the system configuration documentation and change software that I have drawn up on paper now at least 30 times. I know that’s not sexy, but its something that I have a vision for and want to see working.
This is the one that I have learned the most about over the last year. I learned that if I put in the effort I could love a woman that does little but spew bile in my direction. I also learned that no matter what I do, I can’t change the feelings of another. Love is something that you have to decide to do, and it takes work. When only one partner does this, the marriage is constantly at risk. It can survive, but there isn’t much of value there. I have also learned that when there is desire for a relationship of both parties, one choosing to love can lead to amazing results. I have seen this with my kids. They respond to me so much differently than they used to. They show me so much more affection than they used to. They spend so much less time in fear of how I or their mother might react, because I am no longer being fed by her fire. I still have my moments, and I struggle to pull the kids out of the boxes that their mother put them, and constantly shoves them back into when they are with her. I am beginning to see them respond better to each other. She has fostered an environment that encourages them to back bite and fight. When they are with me, I have to actively discourage that, but it gets better faster every time they are with me.
So things change. Sometimes it hurts, but its also opportunity to make things better. I have learned that people don’t do what they say they will all the time, and that sometimes dreams won’t come true no matter how hard you try and wish. I am also learning to not begrudge those who have been able to live the dream I had. Whether I wanted to admit it or not, marriage was a gamble. It always has been, but in the modern world it is a bigger gamble than ever. I can’t say that I regret my marriage. We had some good times, and I have my kids. I might dream of how it could have been different with one of the other women that I dated and sought my attention, but I always come back to the fact I wouldn’t have my four kids. I can never regret that no matter how angry and hurt I am by her.