I discovered Irretrievably Broken’s blog a few weeks ago, and, after reading one or two posts, immediately went back and read every single word from the beginning in a sort of heady divorce-contemplating marathon. In addition to being ridiculously well-written (I love reading really good writing – something relaxes in my stomach and I read in a sort of joyous stupor), it was the first accounting I’d found of a marriage dissolving that somewhat resembled mine. Someone telling the story of a divorce they initiated! That didn’t involve heinous tales of abuse or infidelity or a secret family, just a slow but inexorable slide into constant, intolerable misery. And then having the courage, the audacity, to change her life, walk blindly off that plank, and survive.
So I read her list on Divorced With Kids of possibly doom-harbingering (nope, not a word) relationship qualities with an eye to my own current life. And, not surprisingly, my marriage hits them all. Bing! Bing! I win in the sucky whose-marriage-is-soon-to-be-over category! Well, except for the snooping part. Although I have fantasized about him having an affair, I am either too lazy or too paralyzed with indecision to go and try to dig something out.
But the sign that really hit home was the eye-rolling. Although he doesn’t often actually roll his eyes, my husband has perfected his cold contemptuous sneer. And the other day? When I came home upset and angry about something? When I was tearfully and angrily trying to tell him why I was upset? He snickered. Literally snickered at me. I almost killed him on the spot.
When I first met him, through friends, I thought he was super-hot. And aloof. Our mutual friends mentioned this, the aloofness, but, you know, I was special. It was a running joke for the first part of our marriage: he couldn’t understand why people people were off-put by him, why he had such a hard time making friends, and I would tell him, you come off as aloof, you come off as disdainful. He didn’t want to hear this. So, years down the road when he started turning the disdain upon me, showing me his contempt, the irony was not lost. Stupid, I am, and not so special after all.
The really sad part is, I’ve taken to rolling my eyes, and sneering also, in self-defense. I’ll show him, I think was my initial intention, but it doesn’t seem to affect him much. Now I do it almost routinely. Scary. I don’t want to be that person: the dismissive, bitter ex-wife. I want it to be different.
Sometimes it seems like it could be so easy, so logical, to just say to him one morning, hey, this really isn’t working out, is it, and he would agree, and then we could just figure it out, work it out so our kids are still safe and happy and know that they are loved, regardless. It would just be walking through the doorway into a new room. Easy. Simple.
And I also harbor this likely false and foolish notion that I will take the high road when the rubber dinghy of our marriage finally tips over the edge of those falls, and not engage in mudslinging or disparaging comments to the children. We shall see.
But the contempt I feel from him will never stop. I don’t think he is able to see it, let alone stop it. I know it will continue once we are separate, I know dealing with him won’t get easier. But maybe I won’t have to guard my inner self all the time, at home, in the place where I should be able to be truly me.