I was done. I can’t fully express to you how I felt exactly, I just was exhausted and was just simply done. Done with trying, done with caring, done with crying, done feeling everything- anything. I decided that this was it and that my marriage was over.
So the next morning after yet another sleepless night, I told her that I wanted a divorce.
She was beyond shocked. She was devastated. Now, mainly she was devastated because she never saw it coming. You have to understand something about me to understand this about her…I have not always been “Mr. Right”…but I have been “Mr. Everything is Alright”. I usually keep all my anger or sadness or unhappiness inside and just tell people, “Everything is alright.”. I try to keep a smile on my face at all times, no matter how I’m really feeling inside. I try and let things go, if I’m feeling confronted…I run.
Call this avoidance, or non-confrontational…however, you slice it, if my wife and I ever fought, or got angry or anything like this, I would just walk away. I felt I needed to get away and time away to cool down or whatever it was. Now, she is the complete opposite, as she wants to “hash” things out. Keep talking or hitting that problem head on until it’s completely worked out. But to me, early on in our marriage, this just felt like we were talking “it” to death, or just “beating a dead horse”…it was sheer torture for me.
But this avoidance also had a small side effect that I was unaware of at that time. Early on in our marriage, I wasn’t honest with her, with any of my “negative” emotions. Because I pretended that I didn’t have any. I never told her when I was hurt by something she did or said and then it just would fester in my mind later. If she did anything that hurt me later, or we would find ourselves arguing or mad at each other, I would bring up these “old” hurts and then blast her with multiple problems all at once, which undermined any current problem we were trying to hash out at that time.
Now, to be helpful, I’m not going to tell you all the little things that finally lead to my decision to leave my wife…because every one’s “little things” are different and they all add up over time. Needless to say, it all added up simply to me not feeling like I was getting what I truly needed from my wife and my marriage.
Back to the moment I told my wife I wanted a divorce…at this point, I thought she would yell, scream, throw things and generally hate me forever. But she didn’t. She did something I didn’t expect. She said, “OK, if that’s what you want.”
Just so you know…she still loved me. And she showed it over the next 4 months. She went to great lengths to show me that if we couldn’t be great as husband and wife then she would make sure we were great friends. She told me she couldn’t imagine her life without me, so she wanted us to be best friends, if that is what it took to keep me in her life.
We started talking on the phone…every day. She started to drop by every other day. And through all this, she never showed anger and she never showed sadness. Just support. And love. And deep down inside she was lying to me. Inside, she was broken in two. But she put on that same smile every day, that I was in turn giving to the world, while we were married.
I realized then that if this woman was giving it 150% to try and make things work, regardless of how she truly felt inside then I was the breakdown…I was the one that was not trying any more. I never wanted to be the problem. I wanted to be the solution.
So I thought long and hard about what I really wanted. I did want her. I loved her with all of my heart. But I did need things to be different.
I came up with 3 things.
These 3 things were things I needed above all else. It was 3 things that I needed from her at all times. They were indisputable and simple. Moving forward I realized that I needed my wife to give me these 3 things in order for me to be happy in my marriage and happy with her.
So, I called her and asked her out to dinner.
While we were out at dinner I told her that I still loved her. She cried and told me she still loved me too.
I told her about my thoughts about my “3 things”. She smiled and said that she would always keep those things in mind and that every day she would dedicate herself to giving me those 3 things. So, then I asked her what her “3 things” would be. She thought for a little while and then I could tell that she had thought about those 3 things quite often during our first few years of marriage. She told me about her “3 things”.
They were different than mine, of course. But just as valid. They made sense. I told her that I would think about these 3 things and dedicate myself to giving them to her every day.
We also made 2 rules, never to go to bed angry and never to leave each other without a kiss and an “I love you”.
And I can happily confirm that we have been married 20 years more after that dinner date. And we have never been happier.
Now, you may think it was that simple, but I’ve analyzed it over time and I have come up with some contributing factors:
- I started to communicate with her. I finally told her what I needed. It took me some time to identify what it was that I really needed from her, but once I did, and we started to talk about those things, then we started to “really” talk to each other.
- We re-committed ourselves completely to each other. Every day I realize that being with her is my choice. And every day, I make that choice again. I own that. I choose her.
- I’m dedicated to making her happy. I’m not thinking of my own happiness because that is her concern. I’m going to think about and give her those “3 things” every day. And she does the same for me.
- I can confirm that she has given me those “3 things” ever since. She probably would have done so in the beginning, only she didn’t know what those 3 things were, and I never took the time to tell her. Once, I did, everything changed.
Some people have asked what my “3 things” were, and I won’t tell you in this post, but I will tell you that they are different for everybody. They were simple, but they were crucial to my mental, spiritual and physical happiness. Now, if you really want to know, we can go offline and have that discussion, I will be more than happy to tell you what my 3 things were and what her 3 things were, if that is helpful and gives you more perspective.
I also realize that those 3 things may change over time, so it may be important to have that discussion and re-focus on the new “3 things” because we may be at different stages in our lives. We never had the blessing of children, but I’m sure that if we had, our 3 things would have definitely included them.
I hope this post can give those of you that are having a little difficulty in your marriage something to think about. I hope this is helpful. Just know that you are not alone, and that others have been through similar situations. You can get through this…and from experience, I know…it’s worth it.