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June 20, 2015

Thoughts on Marriage, Divorce & Single-hood.

unhappy marriage

I have been married twice. I have been divorced twice. I have been single for a time. I am newly single-ish now.

I have a unique perspective on relationships from this vantage point.

Relationships are hard work. We hear that all the time.

Most of my friends are married. All of my brothers are married. Some are happily married, some are unhappily married. It is probably a crap-shoot to determine which relationship we get—the happy or the unhappy one. People change and grow, and move apart or move together. Life presents challenges, difficulties, beautiful moments and adventures.

What hand we are dealt in life and how we adapt to change as we move through it all play part in how our relationships evolve.

This weekend I went away to spend some time with friends. Just having experienced a painful break-up, I did not relish the thought of sitting home alone all weekend with time on my hands to think. Instead, I got in my car and drove five hours north to a little suburb of Boston. There I spent the weekend in the safe, warm cocoon of deep friendship. I laughed. I cried. I had a few drinks. I ran a few miles. I slept in a little. I had some nice meals out in the company of good friends.

Despite the closeness, when I visit married friends or family, I am still an outsider. I am an onlooker into their lives—an observer.

I sat in a crowded bar last night with one of my closest, best friends and her husband. I was largely surrounded by couples, some clearly on dates, others with young children, some middle-aged with their teen children, others just out together for a drink and a meal.

I felt alone and misplaced, a bit.

Sure, there was the usual pack of single-looking guys sitting at the bar, but that’s not really my thing. I don’t currently have that “couplehood” with anyone, and while I know at times that can be overrated and it comes with its struggles, I also think sometimes the intimacy of having a long-term relationship with someone can be entirely downplayed by society and simply by the wear and tear of everyday life.

I know first-hand about being married; there are issues, struggles, doubts, and a heavy dose of compromise. Sometimes you wonder what it would be like to go through life without each other. Sometimes you yearn for the other side of it—the freedom of being single and unattached again.

After a time, I think married people and those in long-term relationships can discard all the beautiful, small things they do have together. They have each other, which is huge. Trust me, when that goes away the hole is gaping. Sitting on the couch beside each other having seemingly banal conversations about what TV shows to watch, how schedules mesh for the upcoming week, and who is throwing the laundry in the machine on Monday morning, can all be overlooked as routine rather than seen as fibers that make up the tapestry of their life together.

How different life would be if those seemingly simple things were gone.

I know some of my married and attached friends think I have a pretty cool life. If my ex has my son, I can hop in my car and take a five hour drive. I can go to the gym. I can have a giggly girl’s weekend away. I can catch a flight to the West Coast and visit friends and family there. I do appreciate that freedom. However, I can only do those things freely because I do not have all those little, intricate, intimate, warm and strong fibers that tie a couple together—at least not in an everyday living together sort of sense.

I remember when I got divorced for the first time after 10 years. I missed him tremendously. Although leaving was my only option, I still missed him.

I did not anticipate all the little things I would miss.

I missed that every morning he would make me a cup of tea, just the way I liked it—with a lot of milk and a little sugar. Even after the most horrific fights, I would come out of the shower and there would be my cup of tea on the counter offering me a wordless apology, and a promise of continuity of the little life we had together.

I missed his arm around me when I fell asleep and the warmth and weight of his body next to mine. I had such a difficult time sleeping after I left. I had to scrunch myself up against a couch cushion to find the same comfort.

I missed the ebb and flow of living with someone. I never regretted ending that relationship because it was incredibly unhealthy for me, but I did miss all those strings of attachment, more than I could have ever anticipated.

My second divorce was different. I don’t think we had cultivated a lot of those little strings together, but there were still things that I unexpectedly missed.

If you’re married or in a long-term relationship, try to find the fibers that tie you together when things get dull. It is so easy to fixate on the negative in our partners and our relationships, but take time to think of all the little, seemingly unimportant everyday things you would miss if your partner in life were suddenly gone.

 

Relephant Read:

Conscious Divorce: Turning Pain Into Pleasure.

 

Author: Jeannine M. DeHart

Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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