Four years ago today my world as I knew it ended.
Yeah, pretty strong words.
We walked in to the Dallas County Courthouse, met my lawyer then went before the judge. In ten minutes, it was done. We were no longer husband and wife, but two ordinary people. We left the courthouse and she walked one way, and I another. Our 27 year marriage was over. The life I knew and was comfortable with had changed dramatically.
It has been a struggle these past four years, as I try to move on. I think about what I could have done differently. I think I know the whole story about why she divorced me, but I’m certainly not sure. This post, however, is about what I do know.
I know that she was unhappy for many years, probably as many as 10 years ago, but I never saw the signs. Either I wasn’t listening, or she was not telling me what was wrong, and I didn’t, or couldn’t make the effort to make it right. I do know that I let television get in the way of our life. I should have turned the damned thing off and paid more attention to her. I won’t make that mistake again.
She loved to go tent camping, but I didn’t. I should have sucked it up and made a few more trips with her. We did go on one trip that was supposed to be just us, but her whole family came along (unexpected) and that ruined any chance of a romantic weekend.
I think the biggest mistake I made was not fighting for her, and not fighting this divorce. No excuses, but for those who don’t remember, here is the story, from my perspective.
She first left me in 2008, right after my 50th birthday (what a buzz kill). That was totally out of the blue, but I now know she had planned this for several years. But we were able to date, and I did everything I could to woo her back. Apparently it worked, because she came home 6 months later, but I fell back into my comfort zone, and quit trying to woo her.
At the same time, she was working on her degree, her father had been ill, and our son had some of his own issues that were all affecting our lives. I gave her needed space, thinking that was what she truly needed, not knowing that she had already made a decision. She got her degree in December, 2011, a proud day for all of us, and we went to our last Christmas family get together a few weeks later. After the pressure of school was off, I was hoping that she would “return to normal”, and we could resume our journey… but it was not to happen.
On Sunday, January 10, 2010, she told me that it was over, and she wanted a divorce. Those were the words I dreaded to hear. Then to make matters worse, four days later I was laid off of my job of over 10 years, and my world collapsed. Instead of trying to save my marriage, I was trying to save my life. I didn’t know what to do, who to turn to, or how to proceed. So I ended up in panic mode, and managed to screw everything up.
What I should have done was turn to her and say to her “Let’s take this as a sign, and walk away from the house, and start anew. Let’s move somewhere so you can do something you want to do”. But I didn’t think that way, and instead of fighting to keep her, I let her walk away. There is a good chance I would not have been successful, but I didn’t even try. I was too devastated from all the things going on in my life to see what was going on in my life.
Now she has a new hubby, and they seem to be very happy. I’m very fortunate that I have someone in my life too, although I don’t get to spend as much time with her as I would like. As I feared, the open relationship is starting to close. But it is more important to me that my girlfriend’s marriage be preserved. I don’t want her husband to go what I’ve gone through.
I even think I am ready to meet my ex-wife’s new man. Not quite sure, but maybe. And he won’t like this, but tough: I still love her, and I always will. Yeah, even after leaving me, I still have very strong feelings, but I also know that she is gone forever. I lost any chance when I didn’t act, a regret I will take to my grave (or to wherever my ashes are spread).
I have made some progress. Last year, I would have shared this post publicly on Facebook for all her family to see, and gotten lots of “poor me” comments. On this site, only one or two people will ever look at it, since I don’t publicize this. But its a chance for me to put down my thoughts on electronic paper. A diary, if you will.
I leave you with one thought.
Men… turn off that fucking television, and show your wife that you do love her. Take her camping, take her for a ride, take her to do something she really wants to do. Make your lives together something special, before it’s too late.