Where to start? There are so many starts and stops when you leave a marriage of 38 years. Why did I stay so long if I was that unhappy? I continue trying to figure that out. When did I know it was hopeless? At various times. I cannot site one particular moment.
It’s excruciatingly painful to leave a marriage, particularly one of great length. Does that make it harder? I think so because with each passing year there are more things to consider, and more people will be hurt. This is a drastic, life-altering decision. The love might be long gone, but you know it’s still going to hurt, and it’s hard to deliberately hurt someone.
There were red flags before we were married, they were in plain view, at least for me. I haven’t forgotten them. Doesn’t that somehow speak to the importance of paying attention to those things?
I had a good job when we were dating and returned from grocery shopping one day with a pound of shrimp he thought was too expensive. I received a lecture in a surly tone advising me that as long as people like me continued to pay too much for a pound of shrimp they would remain overpriced. I was stunned but said nothing. Why couldn’t I have a pound of shrimp I could easily afford? And who were these other people like me? I knew exactly who they were, people like my parents, and their friends I had grown up around. But he hadn’t.
To say our backgrounds were dissimilar would be a gross understatement. We’ve all known couples like this, and some of them seem to easily make it work. Why couldn’t I? Because the hurts, unintentional as they may have been, built up over the years. And if you can’t let them go each one cuts a little more deeply into your soul, and you keep score.
You wish you weren’t so sensitive, that you could brush them off, but you can’t, which is why of course, you remember each one. And the stack grows ever higher. Yet you continue to keep quiet because we don’t want any controversy or confrontation, at least not in the home I was raised in. So there shouldn’t be any in mine either, right?
My husband had no idea he was doing anything wrong. He was emulating the behavior he experienced growing up in his home. He thought it was fine to make major decisions without me. Suddenly cars would vanish, and new ones would appear. Despite not having had a nice vacation 20 years into our marriage, he…