The Beginning of the End: Losing Touch In My Marriage

OFF-losingtouchI found this text file today, that represents the last straw in my marriage. I remember the moment quite well. I was working a new job, making good money, and was preparing for the Friday drive home on a snowy January evening. I was meaning to type up a quick, I don’t like you but I love you, note. What happened next is MY SIDE of the story for why we got divorced. This was the tipping point for ME.

(I have left the lowercase and lack of punctuation as it was written in the email – I have corrected the spelling and removed any identifying names.)

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i am mad at you… i’m trying to get through it… forgive my slowness…
i say we’re doing well, you say we’re bouncing checks
i say, i’m making 100k, you say you’re making 2k per month
i say I recognize my accelerated mode, yellow flagging myself
you say, yes but… there’s more…

yes there is more… always more…

bottom line: my love is never-ending for you, you are more beautiful to me today than any time in the past, I can see you with a vibrancy as I am buzzing over here at P o L. but, I am tired of always being the one to hold the overview perspective, always the one to suggest parties, beach trips, cars, whatever… and have you… say, and I know you will agree that you are tired of this role as well, so this is what we are working on… no, we’re not safe, the house is not clean enough, we don’t have the money for that, we have other priorities. I am tired of holding the line when I am angry or in disagreement, when you seemingly let them fly when and where you see them, without regard for where I’m at or what impact it might have.

The other night as I was reading in bed, hoping that you would be returning from the snake room, you patted my head. The hard part was how good it felt.

What I realized standing next to you in the closet this morning, i don’t like you very much. I am holding some shit, and for that I am sorry. So rather than speaking my mind, I mozy on to the office and work. Rather than complaining when you say you are going to come out of the kids room and watch a movie, I blow it off, throw it in the canyon for a later day.

I guess the later day has come. I am negative. I am not happy. I am not giving you the wrapper that I would like to. You suggest the beach via email a few days ago and my first thought is, “yeah right.” Glad it was your suggestion and not mine.

Well, that signals to me that I am off. What I am off about is something that feels like an imbalance. I am enthusiastic about therapy and what we began to hit on this week.

I don’t feel like I’m better than you or that I am doing it right and you are wrong. I don’t.

But I feel like you have some critical eye that is telling me what I am doing wrong, how I am not meeting YOUR expectations on several levels, and even when I come up and self-proclaim my own warning card, rather than join, you say, but wait… there’s more. Well, that’s what we’re doing, I guess. The more part.

What a learned over the next few days and then weeks was: if I didn’t generate the love language in our house it simply did not exist.

I am sorry for my negativity. I am focusing in on the kids. I am irritable when you talk out loud because I think you are telling me something to do. I am short with you. And I’m happy in C’s room. (I guess you know that one, eh?)

I hope you can see that this is a love letter and not a bitch session. AS I WRITE THIS I AM FEELING VERY SAD.

I do not want to be on the receiving end of so many “you shoulds.”

Here’s the most telling example I can come up with. The other night as I was reading in bed, hoping that you would be returning from the snake room, you patted my head. The hard part was how good it felt. I don’t think our outward expression of genuine amusement and love of the other is very balanced. I am certain you are expressing that with J and C in spades. Me… well, it’s complicated.

And wrapping up, so I can come home, SEX. (I can see your expression changing in my mind…)

I add sex to your list of chores for the weekend. You feel like I am taking a pot shot at you. So you add, Looking for the when, where, how… Okay, so do ever have the thought… “horny”

You have expressed in the past that you do in fact have these thoughts.

So do you ever wonder when, where, how… or is that my department, like taking out the trash or switching lightbulbs? (that came across more harsh than I wanted) Nonetheless, I am harsh right now. I could care less about architecting the clean house, no kids, right mood, structure that it often requires to have sex together. So you know what, I’m having sex alone. Bummer.

Are you having sex?

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(The text exchange I initiated in bed, weeks later, was a continuation of this inquiry: Are You Having Sex, Because I’m Not)

The moment I knew I was in serious trouble, was as I was typing up this note. And as I began to get overwhelmed by the feelings of frustration and sadness. It had taken me a week to sort through those magical feelings above “you patted my head.” She also leaned down and said to me, “I love you.”

I was stunned. I was confused. I was out of my body for a minute trying to figure out what was happening. And I didn’t really connect with the message, but the feeling in my body was somewhere between exhilaration and terror.

As I was writing this note home, as a pre-amble to our weekend, I realized that her actions of genuine affection towards me were almost nonexistent. The amazement I felt was how alien it was for her to be touching me and telling me she loved me. The extreme sadness that poured out of me as I was writing this pivot letter, was how much it hurt to know how little she appreciated me for me. She liked the money, the chores, the great dad with the kids, but for me… She had very little affection.

We were established on our opposite sides of the bed. And while I was reaching over I was getting an ice cold response.

It was at this very moment that I began to test my assumption. If I didn’t over-generate the affection in the marriage where would we be. What a learned over the next few days and then weeks was: if I didn’t generate the love language in our house it simply did not exist. I don’t think it had always been like this. I’m not sure when she reversed engines away from me, but it was probably about the time she confessed in couples therapy that she didn’t really love me any more.

Both times (in therapy and writing this note) I wept openly for the loss. My center was caving in and it crushed my hopefulness.

After this letter and the subsequent observations I began to express my dissatisfaction. As I ended this email, I began my exploration of why she didn’t want to have sex with me. Why she never expressed appreciation. Even when I was doing it all the time. And being the best and brightest I could be every single day as I woke up.

We were established on our opposite sides of the bed. And while I was reaching over I was getting an ice cold response. But I was waking up to that painful reality. And I was voicing my anger at how things were playing out. I was bucking against the reins that had been put over OUR passion.

I would not win. But I would no longer be quiet and settle for such a lack in my life.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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Image: Susan Benarcik’s Losing Touch

A video that captures it nicely: Something’s Always Wrong – Toad the Wet Sprocket

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