Check this out for part 1
Just to re-cap in case the 5 of you who follow me are too lazy or disinterested to go back and catch up. I was prompted to write out how I wound up married to my current wife by a comment made by someone regarding how we choose partners. It retrospect both of us should have run the other way. I wasn’t ready for anything since emotionally I was still in grade 10 and I’m not sure my wife was too much further ahead. Nevertheless, we pressed on, stayed together, had kids, and married.
This post has been sitting in drafts for a while: write, don’t post, re-write, don’t post, repeat….. My story is hardly all that unique or even interesting. I imagine it’s the same kind of story most long term married couples have. The first few years after we got together were great. Part of the euphoria of being in a new relationship I suppose. Every day seemed to push a new boundary. She was open to me and me to her so there was no limit. It was a little different for us since we didn’t date conventionally. Does anybody in real life? We lived in shared accommodation so it was hard not to live together when we were already living together. As always, with the benefit of hindsight, we were destined to get together. Two moderately attractive single people interested in the same activities, similarly educated, living together, with few other viable romantic options. They should have put us in the same room right away and dispensed with all the awkward, ambiguous moments leading up to the big first night.
We weren’t settled career wise and neither one of us had any defined life goals. I never aspired to having a family. I never felt I’d be financially ready, emotionally ready, or any other sort of ready to commit to a wife much less kids. Yet friends and family started to settle down with long term partners by our early 30s so there didn’t seem to be much choice. The momentum of it all carried us forward. My first girlfriend was never seen by me or anyone associated to us as a long term partner. With my wife it was clear she was someone I could, and probably should, marry one day if I could ever pull my head out of my ass and make a decision. Even if there was a time to end things there was far too much social pressure to stay together than break apart. It’s an interesting observation how quickly someone can integrate themselves into your life. After a few years, even if we weren’t yet married, it was no easy task to break apart.
My future wife did leave me for a little while early in our relationship. We were still still trying to establish some sort of career, pay off student loans, and basically not feel like we were starving students anymore. She took a job to teach English in Asia for a year. I don’t remember very much about it. I kind of recall dropping her off at the airport after staying with her sister in Vancouver. There weren’t any tears or big weepy goodbyes. We didn’t break up or declare our intentions to stay together. Her contract was for a year and I figured that was it. We’d gradually disappear from our lives and she’d be a fond memory. For sure she’d come to her senses and find someone else. It was just before emails and relatively cheap overseas calls so contact was intermittent. I went to work in the bush for 6 months since my professional career aspirations were going no-where and put her out of my mind.
To my surprise my wife came back early. I told her not to and I especially insisted she not come back for me in letters to her. Then, and now, I felt exceedingly uncomfortable about someone planning her life around me. I was afraid she would wake up one day and realize the mistake she made. Of greater concern is that I wouldn’t be able to keep up being in a relationship.
We ended up moving to my hometown to work in my family’s business, something I had tried to avoid since leaving high school. My dad was sick, completely run down, and needed help. Financially it was a good move, but I lost long sought after independence I had hoped for when I originally left home. My wife worked with me, so we were completely intertwined with work, a our new apartment, my old friends, and family.
Things were mostly good, but over time tensions started to build. It turned out she liked her work way more than she wanted to spend time with me. She liked her employees, her customers, being busy, and working on weekends. Despite walking 2 minutes to work and being able to take time off anytime we wanted, we began the long disconnect. It was an incremental process. We just gradually stopped doing things together. Eventually I stopped asking her to do things with me anymore. It was ok though. I had friends and worked all the time anyway, so it wasn’t like there was a huge hole in my life with her increasing absence from it.
Then one day she decided we needed a baby. Her clock was ticking, friends were having children (one in particular), and basically it was time. I didn’t really give it a lot of thought. We weren’t having much sex so I figured it might not happen anyway. It was either go along with something that was a remote possibility (in my mind) or break up, which I wasn’t ready to contemplate.
To my surprise we were both fertile. Once she went of the pill it was almost instant. After the initial shock I was ok with it. I liked the look and feel of her pregnant. Once we had our first son it felt like we were a team again, but once the novelty of having a new baby wore off, our relationship difficulties started to really manifest themselves. While we didn’t do much together anymore before children, we still spent time alone at home. Now I was a disposable part of her life. For the first year that was ok and completely understandable. After that I figured it was time to being a couple again. When my oldest son was about 2 we had gone through a particularly tough time. I arranged for babysitting and planned a night away for my wife and I. It wasn’t completely out of the blue as we had talked about getting away somewhere sometime soon before our relationship fell completely off the rails. When I finally decided to make it happen, she freaked out. She just couldn’t step out of her routine and leave our son. Maybe I should have made more effort, but that was the last time I tried to do something with her again. There were other moments before and after, but I think it was then that I realized I was on my own.
We had a second kid, another boy, and to this day I’m not sure how. We barely had sex and most of the time I slept in another room.
After baby #2 arrived I wasn’t hopeful. I had checked out and was basically completely indifferent to my wife and she was to me. Thoughts of infidelity were still a long way off, but there were some early indications of future trouble. Our neighbor split with her husband during this time. I can’t say how it happened, but one summer we ended spending all our free time together. It never crossed my mind that it was anything more than an innocent platonic relationship. We had kids close to the same age and we were both available to each other when our spouses weren’t. I think old insecure- fat-kid-syndrome guy couldn’t see the developing problem or the optics of the situation. It LOOKED like we were dating, which we probably were without defining it as such. My wife and I hadn’t had sex for over a year and in one of the few conversations where she expressed concern for “us” she said I should probably get fixed. Snippy, passive-agressive me said “why bother, abstinence is working pretty well don’t you think?” I repeated that line a lot. She said I was spending way too much time with horny across-the-fence-line woman and she was concerned that I would sleep with her if I hadn’t already.
I went for months resisting my wife’s request to see the Doctor. I didn’t want to get my hopes up that my wife could be more than a roommate again and I had put up such high walls against her that I had trouble climbing down from them. She ended up making the appointment, making sure I made the time for it, and pushing me to get it done. I was so mad I was just seeing how long we could go without ever doing it. After I was “fixed” we went through a brief period of activity, but it soon dwindled to nothing again.
In 2005 I started a new job that ended up taking me away from home. It’s common enough in small town Canada to have a job somewhere else so I wasn’t doing anything unique or outside the box. Readers, is it the same in the US or Australia? People live in say, 100 Mile House, and work in the Alberta Oil Patch or a mine in the Territories. Or they rent a cheap basement suite and work in Vancouver doing IT work on a compressed schedule. It used to be guys with specialized skills like tradesmen who could dictate employment terms, but there seems to be more people doing it these days. Usually people with families who can’t afford a house in the city. Whatever, I turned into one of these guys. I rented a place near the city. I’d work my shifts and come home on days off and take the kids. In 4 years my wife came to visit one. It was just like being separated with split custody of the children. It was during this period that I had my first taste of infidelity.
I worked with a mixed team of men and women. There was a quite a bit of sleeping around between co-workers, but I thought I was an outside observer to that whole messy scene. It turned out not. I was there to work, not fuck around on my wife, no matter how dis-functional my marriage was. Despite good intentions I found myself “involved” with a much younger woman. She had broken up with her boyfriend who she thought she was going to marry. She had problems at work and I was her mentor. She was pretty hot and got hit on all the time so maybe I was safe to be around, since I didn’t and never said anything inappropriate to her. Like all these types of situations there is a moment when you realize things have maybe gone too far and there’s a decision to make. When my phone was filled with messages from her. When we start making plans to see each other on days off. When we get to the office early and leave late just to linger a while longer and visit with each other. The process is so gradual that there is no “when”. There is just a realization that there is someone else in your life and you’re not sure what it all means, if anything. Most times I honestly thought I was imagining it because I was lonely.
I never viewed myself as being in demand or an option to any woman outside my wife, and she ended up rejecting me so my self esteem was pretty low at the time. Yet it was hard to ignore the signs. The leg pressed up against me under the table during lunch one day confirmed my (hopeful) suspicions. Whatever my faults, I never wanted to be “that guy” around the office. I was intensely attracted to this woman, a girl really, but it was so completely inappropriate that I was actually driven to make a hard decision and poured cold water on the whole thing. I stopped going to lunch with her. I stopped meeting with her after work and basically went no contact. If I hadn’t done it I’m positive we would have slept together soon after the leg-press incident and I would have gotten completely carried away with things. It turned out I was right, because that is exactly what happened with L a few years later.
After my near miss with younger-woman-at-work I left that office to take up another position closer to home. I figured I’d better start trying to be a husband again. For a while things were great at home, but my wife, as always, was just too cold and unavailable. Enter L. I’ll skip the story since I’ve written lots about it, but by then the defenses were down. Plus I had tried with my wife a number of times to build some kind of connection and failed every time.
It wasn’t until I decided to leave home altogether I saw my wife emotional for the first time. She never showed any feeling one way or the other toward me since well before our second child was born. We’d had sex maybe a dozen times in a decade, and she showed no interest in my life, professional or personal. In fact she’d told me not to talk to her, which I was mostly fine with. With me leaving without her and the possible threat of L off in the distance she was in tears. The walls finally came down. She said she didn’t want to lose me and was going to move with me. Ok? Really?
I think the emotions of so much change all at once loosened up my wife. For a little while at least she wanted to be with me. She wanted sex. She wanted to be a girlfriend. A partner. An actual team mate. She wasn’t constantly dismissive of me. It’s like she realized being a cold indifferent bitch had consequences. Not that my wife is actually a bitch. She’s a very sweet woman, but with problems I still haven’t managed to figure out. I hadn’t planned to leave her for another woman. In my mind my wife had left me and I was doing her a favor. I’d stop bugging her for sex and asking her to do stuff, which annoyed her. L was nice. they’d probably get along. Ok, maybe not.
More alarming was that my wife lost a lot of weight. She dyed her hair. Dressed better. Started going out more. Basically she was fun again. We moved away, started this great adventure out in the wilderness, had money and time to enjoy life. It was perfect except for one thing. I was nearly suicidal trying to choose between L or my wife. In the end the OW wasn’t sustainable. Despite my delusions that I was different from other cheating husbands I wasn’t too different and I elected to play it safe and stay with my wife. Was it the right decision. Probably, but being right didn’t diminish the pain much. My wife was her old self again and I’d get through it with her help.
For a while I carried so much guilt I never considered my own interests and feelings. I was always trying to make up for something. Being a cheater, treating L so badly, for lying, for not being able to make a decision. For a time things were much better with my wife, and truthfully, they still are. She is an amazing woman who I want to be around. The problem is that she hasn’t been through a crisis of self reflection. Being cheated on possibly spared her from having to look too closely inward. I don’t know. Now that we’re back “home” living a regular life with our old friends and established at work again, the old demons are back. I can’t shake the feeling that I’m forcing her to be something she’s not. Forcing seems to be a bit strong. Maybe manipulating? She is basically insecure like she wasn’t before so she tries to be what she thinks I want her to be rather than what she wants. I told her a few weeks ago that it’s ok not to be into me. We can be honest about our feelings and not hurt our feelings. There is no-one else in the picture so I’m not leaving her for someone else. I’ll leave her for other reasons.
What I realized is that it’s important for my wife to be married. I personally don’t get it, but I guess the security of it is more important than the freedom from me she’d have if she left. We continue this never ending dance. Our marriage starts to go cold, I disengage, she worries she’s let it go to far……wash-rinse-repeat. I just want it to be over. I love her, that’s not the issue, the problem is that I need her and she’s not available.