The saddest news I have ever shared.
I have not been posting much in the last few months because my home life has been in terrible turmoil. People have asked me about it, but there wasn’t much I could even say in person to the majority of people. It’s hard to explain when standing in the grocery store produce aisle that, after surviving a horrible period of depression, years of strife in our extended family and, of all things, CANCER, and feeling healthier and mentally together more than I have been in my entire life, that I think my marriage of 11 years might be ending. I didn’t feel, either, that airing my “dirty laundry,” so to speak, was appropriate for myself or my husband. I want you to know that everything in this post has been done with his approval and foreknowledge.
Troy and I have decided that a week from now we will begin a separation with the intention, at this time, of coming back together in the future as a couple and a family. It is with much agony that I have come to appreciate the possibilities of a separation at this time. After revealing to me in early June that he had engaged in infidelities, Troy had requested a separation to work on himself. I did not feel at the time that such a thing was in anyone’s best interest. I believed fully that all of us would be better off if he were at home and if, after a period of time devoted to his own self-development, that we would turn our attention toward our marriage. We engaged a marriage counselor just before this stunning revelation and negotiated a three-month, in-house period of personal and relationship work that would or wouldn’t be done, with the intent to renegotiate after three months. We’ve made it for just over two.
It sounds all very businesslike and unemotional, but it was not, I assure you. It was heartbreaking and horrifying for both of us. This is, in fact, the worst period of stress of my life hands down, including being diagnosed with cancer. With cancer, there was a pretty clear-cut answer for what needed to be done. With this, there are no amount of books or professional advice that makes sense or provides any answers for us. We are slogging through mud without the aid of a hand up to pull us out.
So, it has been over this time that I have tried everything in my power – including completely letting go – to keep my husband in our home. I wanted it for him, Colleen and myself. I still have reasons to believe it is the best thing for him and it, I’m sure, is obvious to anyone why it would be the best thing for Colleen. For myself, I had concern that a separation period, where we weren’t working on our marriage, would serve only to grow resentment in myself and in him as well.
However, after these last two months, I’ve come to feel that a separation is in my best interest. Troy, as I said, has felt all along it is what he needs to do and I now believe it is the only option that will make him happy, and I want him to be happy. The saddest part is that it is in most ways NOT in Colleen’s best interest. My hope, as I’m sure it is Troy’s, is that in the long-term, it will absolutely prove to be in her best interest as well. If she has happy, well-adjusted parents, she will be a happy, well-adjusted child. She has, though, made her feelings known that she does not think this is a good idea.
I have come to believe that Troy leaving will greatly reduce the stress in my life. At this time, the stress has entered all areas of my life – crying in inappropriate locations, crying in extreme excess (even though I’m actually on drugs that should prevent that), deeply affecting my job (to the point of being in deep doo-doo at work), reverting the mental/emotional/personal work I’ve done in more than a year of therapy, making me do things that I really do not want to do, becoming a person I do not want to become, causing me physical pain, bringing on minor illness and making me gravely concerned that another major illness (such as a recurrence of cancer) will be in my future unless I can stop. I have tried to release all of stress I am feeling inside of me – engaging the help of two therapists, the drug lady and multiple friends to try to do so. However, even with very hard work to keep myself sane, I feel I’m losing ground. I loved the person I was two months ago. I do not like the person I’m turning into. When I began to realize this, I began to see that Troy’s idea to separate had a great deal of wisdom, even though I don’t fully agree with it. I have apologized to him for not seeing this wisdom sooner (there are a lot of apologies flying back and forth between us these days).
So, while I can’t imagine the days ahead are going to be easy – in fact, I feel they are going to get worse before they get better – I do know I have experienced a great deal of relief since I have gotten “on board” with the idea of separation.
I want you to know that while I have not yet fully forgiven Troy for his infidelities, I do not blame him for the condition of our marriage. Even without his actions, our marriage has needed work for some time and that has been delayed for various reasons. I also have now and still believe that the majority of cheating happens when a relationship is already broken or starting to break. I knew before he told me when this had started and ended because of the surrounding conditions of our lives at that time, which includes my own problems. That, in no way, absolves him from his actions, nor do I accept blame for what he did – I believe he was a grown-up and had choices to make and chose an affair (or possibly multiple affairs) over healthier options (such as marriage counseling, individual therapy, talking to friends, stress reduction in the form of exercise, healthy living or picking up a hobby). I am about 85% convinced that we would NOT be separating now if it hadn’t been for his actions. However, I am 100% convinced that this would still be an extraordinarily troubled time in our marriage regardless of his actions.
In opposition to what many people seem to believe for themselves, I do not now believe or have I in the past believed that infidelity is grounds for immediate divorce. I think it is most definitely a time to evaluate the relationship, try to determine what went wrong and decide whether it’s important to both parties to continue into the future. Troy and I both believe our marriage is vitally important to our lives and our life goals and do not wish, at this point, to see it come to an end.
Again, I do not tell you these things to rat on Troy or cause any pain in his life. This post will not be made without his prior approval. I’m sharing this information solely because I know you are wondering. And, if you know us well, you are likely in shock and disbelief that this is happening. I can not and will not tell you all of the conditions that led to this situation. However, you can imagine the hits our marriage has taken. If you know us or have read this blog, you know that we have had an extraordinary amount of pain and stress in our lives for about five years. (That doesn’t mean all of the last five years has been bad. It’s easy to characterize it as such, but it’s not true. There have just been many, many periods of stress, many great losses in our lives and multiple illnesses or deaths. I truly believe that we have had a lifetime of major events in a few years AND that we are due for a couple decades of easier living ahead.)
I’m not sure how much I will continue to talk about the specifics of the situation on this blog as time goes by. I used to be a very private person about my internal and relationship struggles and I can feel myself wanting very much to have my privacy on this subject. (I really agonized over sharing what I have shared so far on this post. Thus, the reason you’ve heard very little from me in the last two months.) That doesn’t mean that I won’t discuss this with friends and family. However, I really don’t believe I will share much of this journey in this public forum. I’ll try to update you on the highlights: how I’m feeling, whether we decide to extend the three-month separation, how Colleen is doing, when Troy comes back home, etc. I probably will not tell you anything we discuss in marriage therapy or even with each other. I probably, also, will stick mainly to the positive improvements as time goes on. So, don’t believe for a second that everything is hunky-dory or easy as pie! I just don’t feel that it would be helpful to Troy or me to air our problems here.
I also believe that I will start blogging again on a regular basis. I have lots of ideas floating around in this big ol’ head and I’ve been wanting to share them. However, these are just my pontifications on other aspects of life. So, don’t be surprised if I don’t mention my family life for some time. It doesn’t mean anything is bad or good; just that I don’t want to talk about it or have things to talk about that I think is more interesting!
I am somewhat concerned about my emotional well-being in the first few weeks after the separation begins. (I’m concerned about Troy’s as well, so please feel free to call or be in contact with him. He needs support as well.) I have the wonderful opportunity to work from home. However, as great as it can be, it is also horrifyingly lonely and, I believe, much of the reason I have struggled off and on with depression since my daughter was born. I know what I need to avoid this – babysitters! My mom has come over several times in the last few weeks just to spend the day at the house. My friend Elaine also came over for a few days and camped on my deck (she’s allergic to our cat, so she couldn’t sleep inside). It helps to have someone here – if I’m plagued with a sudden need to talk or cry, there is a person here to help me keep my thoughts in check. Talking to people by phone does not have the same effect. While I’m on the phone, I may be calm and considering their points very reasonably. Then, when I hang up, I’m alone with my thoughts again and spiral down fast. I do not have the advantage of being in an office environment where I can be distracted constantly by people coming and going, interrupting my work and keeping me (even without their knowledge) from thinking too much.
(A topic for another time: I believe Troy and I both think too damn much. I think if we were unintelligent people, we would have an easily happy marriage. We get along very well in most ways and, I feel, are rather perfectly matched. Ignorance is bliss, right? I think there may be a lot of truth to that. B & Paul were visiting this weekend and Paul shared his theories on how beautiful people don’t develop personalities because they never have to struggle. He said something like, “Isn’t it amazing that pretty people think the whole world is just so nice.” Everyone is nice to them because they are gorgeous, yet they have no idea that is the reason why, and ignorantly bop through life with an ease we ordinary folk just never get to do.)
Anyway, if you would like to come babysit me, I would love it! We have wireless internet access. If you have a wireless laptop, bring it and surf the Internet. Or watch our movies saved on Tivo. Or sit on our deck and watch the water on the lake. Or pet the dog. Or read. Take a mini vacation at Casa del Maynard and help me out while you do it.
Please, don’t all call at once! Today, my mom will be here. Tomorrow, I’ll be working from the office. Then, Thursday through Sunday, I’ll be going out of town with friends. I think my mother-in-law will be here on Monday and Troy will be leaving Tuesday morning (as he leaves for work) and I will probably ask my mom to be here again that day. So, the next week is pretty set. But after that, I really think I could use the company.
Also, if any of you have positive outcomes of a temporary separation to share with me, I would like to hear about it or get any advice you have. Now, notice I said POSITIVE outcomes. To me, that means the end result was a happy marriage. It’s possible for you that meant the end result was a good divorce. I’m not ready to entertain that idea at this time.
I love Troy very much and I know he feels the same about me. I really believe the problems in our marriage are fixable. Troy has personal issues to deal with and I believe those are fixable as well – with therapy and hard work. (We have discussed this a lot, so he knows I think this.) He is the child of an alcoholic, drug-addicted, abusive father who abandoned his family (and ultimately committed suicide) and caused a great deal of problems in the lives of Troy’s mom and both boys. I share that because I know whenever I do, people immediately understand how deeply affected people are by such situations. (“It will fuck you up for life!” as my friend Lisa used to say about certain horror movies.) Troy has many issues initially brought on in childhood that will have to be picked apart and put back together again. He’s in for a lot of hard work and can use your support in doing it.
I don’t think everything is going to be “solved” in three months. I don’t think this is going to be easy, either. However, it is my hope that we can get back on track to a healthier family in that time. I would really like to see Troy return to our home happier in three months, but I also know that may not happen. We might extend the separation. We might expand the conditions of the separation. We might decide to divorce. But, like I said, that is not my hope.
So, there you have it. Do with it what you will!