I Had a Great Marriage, Or So I Thought
Book Excerpt from Divorce Inked Out
So here I am, years married, two kids down and…… not happy. Shocker!
I had a great marriage, or so I thought, until one day, I didn’t. If you asked me to pinpoint where things went wrong, I couldn’t tell you exactly. Of course, we had our issues. What marriage doesn’t? But to single out a specific reason for its demise is difficult. I can tell you one thing, married life after children is never the same.
Married life B.C. (before children) is fun and exciting. I mean really, what is the difference between a serious relationship and marriage? Most likely you live together anyway, so the only real change is the title. We still had a great social life; parties, dinners, nights down by the shore, vacations. We came and went as we pleased. There are no limitations, no responsibilities and thusly, much less stress.
I remember we were watching the cooking channel one night; These incredible sandwiches were being made. Homemade bread fresh out of the oven, imported cold cuts and cheese from Italy, mouthwatering spreads- all combined and toasted into a panini of perfection. I still recall how we started to salivate over them. As luck would have it, they were from a restaurant in the city. We jumped out of bed, got dressed and drove there. It was that simple. Freedom…nothing to run home for, no obligations except him and me.
People do not realize how much children stress a marriage. I am not saying children are responsible for divorce, but they definitely limit your freedom and apply a layer of pressure that wasn’t there before. A typical day for me was basically spent taking care of my kids. My husband would go off to work and I was home all day with them. I don’t know about you, but there is just so much yum-yum, baba and go sleepies, a person can take.
Add that to severe sleep deprivation and colicky kids and you can find yourself, one twisted sister. My daughter used to scream for hours on end. We were trying to “Ferberize” her. I’d like to meet this Ferber guy and give him a piece of my mind. Let’s just say one night my husband came home to find me sitting on the couch with a tall glass of scotch- neat.
Now here is a scenario that wreaks havoc on a marriage. You are tapped out. You do not want to change another diaper, speak any more goo-goo language or watch another episode of Elmo getting his groove on. You are dying for some stimulating adult conversation. Your husband has just dealt with tons of people all day long. The last thing he wants is to be bombarded with a chatty Kathy and raging kids as soon as he gets home.
I have witnessed first hand and heard from many others, the scenario I will describe now. The husband walks in from a crazy day at work. He is exhausted and just wants a hot meal to eat with peace and quiet. The wife, 5 Starbucks in, is trying to calm hyperactive kids down and is desperate for some adult talk. The last thing the husband wants to do is deal with screaming children and a caffeine driven hyperactive spouse.
The wife so desperately wants a helping hand and some attention. If proper communication is not already established, a compromise to help the husband and wife is very difficult to reach. Being home is no longer a quiet relaxing place. There may be after school activities, homework, studying and much more. Schedules are a must, and before you know it, it’s time to go to sleep and restart the day again. Is there any real communication with a life so engulfed in routine? If it’s not already established, it probably doesn’t exist.
This is where, in my opinion, the marital problems begin. You used to experience butterflies in your stomach when the key would turn in the front door. You were so excited to greet the person on the other end. Now, the key turning is met with a sick feeling and an eye roll. Bickering becomes constant. The only real conversations are those regarding the children’s schedules. The days of snuggling on the same couch are long gone. If there is any time for television, it is either in separate rooms watching different shows; or the same room on separate couches.
Again, lack of communication. So now let’s take it to the next level. No communication leads to separate spaces which then leads to the extinction of intimacy. After all, why would you be romantically interested in someone if you hardly speak to them? You have just added another level of non-communication in a sexual way. Barely any communication of any kind then leads to methods of avoidance; workdays become longer, dinner meetings run over, any possible reason for you to avoid interaction is given. It reaches such a severe level that you truly don’t know what to say to each other if you are alone.
Some people try to keep things cluttered and completely ignore the huge pink elephant in the room. They busy themselves with kids’ activities; and host as many parties and social events as possible. They may even seem like the “perfect couple” to on-lookers, but that is just the pretty picture they portray. For example, take a Monet- beautiful from afar, but fake and not so attractive the closer you look.
No sooner is the communication chain broken both verbally and intimately, do you start to criticize your significant other. You begin to pick on every little thing that, all of a sudden, bothers you about them.
“She doesn’t even put on makeup anymore.”
“He has man boobs and a sunken ass.”
“She packed on the pounds.”
“He drinks too much.”
Anything that bothers you in the slightest way has become an annoyance tenfold its amount. This person that you were once so enamored with, now completely turns you off; and little quirks that have always been present, now irritate the ever, loving, crap out of you. Ironically, the things that attracted you to each other in the first place, eventually become the things you hate the most.
I remember my husband used to love the fact that I was tough and protective of those I loved. I would get extremely heated if I felt someone was out to hurt them. However, years later, that same attitude turned him off. There was a child constantly “pinching” my daughter at school. She came home very upset one day and I immediately lost it. I marched right back up to school with both kids and went straight to the principle’s office. I boldly explained the situation and demanded actions be taken to resolve it. Needless to say- it was addressed properly.
The mother of the child apologized to me and reprimanded her son. The boy also wrote my daughter an apology letter. Ironically, I think the little boy had a crush on my daughter, but I digress. Instead of being happy that I defended my child and made her feel safe, my husband commented, “how can you just barge into the school like that? What are you a gangster?” My reply, “Yes, when it comes to my kids, YES I AM.” The previous feelings of admiration do not exist. You become condemned for the person you always have been but for some reason, it is no longer acceptable.
Now is the stage where the excuses become pattered. Any reason you can think of to avoid contact with your partner is given.
“I don’t feel well.”
“I have my period.”
It becomes so bad, you even start using the kids as your “get out of sex card free pass.”
“The kids want me to lie with them. I’ll be down as soon as they fall asleep.”
Coincidently, you fall asleep too or at least pretend to- crisis averted. Then there are nights when you are positioned on your separate couches and you say a Hail Mary hoping he falls asleep. You quietly glance over and to your excitement, he has dozed off. Finally, you can relax; watch your chick flick and enjoy your night. As you unwind you start to question how things got this bad. You are nothing more than roommates, residing in the same house, co-parenting children.
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