Posted by: itneverrainsinseattle | December 21, 2009

Just a River in Egypt

The “Reality Distortion Field” (read: denial) around the state of our marriage is beginning to flicker. I’m coming to realize that denial is a powerful coping mechanism to help you get through the day-to-day. As such, in the day-to-day my wife and I pretend that we’re going to continue to live together in this house. I get the impression sometimes that she might even still believe that, at some level.

As a friend good of mine mentioned to me not too long ago: in the past, I haven’t really given my wife reason to believe that I am willing to leave. Of course, that’s because in the past, I wasn’t.

But now when we talk about it when the kids aren’t around (I find I can’t help but point it out, with increasing frequency), we both talk about separate households as our near-term destination. Even if somewhat reluctantly.

With each mention of this, I lament (if only a little) the falling away of denial. Then, denial rears its fishy head once again in the day-to-day conversations, proving how hard it is to sink, and I then have the mixed feelings that comes with it. Should we try to stay together? Am I being too hasty? (Um, yes… I hear one or two of you laughing out there. Cut that out.)

But even if Penny continues to talk during the day as if we still have a future together, I notice that she has dropped all pretense at volunteering any “I love yous.” She truly has become even less affectionate — as if that were even possible without becoming openly hostile. And yet… she has managed to not become openly hostile, and she has withdrawn even further into roommate territory. Next to go will be the perfunctory pecks hello and goodbye, which are the only signs of affection my children see between us, and which are really about as warm as a business handshake with your banker whom you’ve not previously met.

She may or may not attach the same significance to these acts that I do, but for all the talk about our future together, the fact that she grows even more business-like (or roommate like) tells me that she knows we’re done.

I think we may have to cling to a healthy dose of denial for us to all get through the Christmas season with the kids.

But I’m resolved to starting the “what our divorce is going to look like” negotiations no later than the first week of January.

I’d like for the divorce plan (for lack of a better term) mostly agreed upon by the end of March, and our separation to be mutually recognized by then — even if we are unable to afford two separate households by then.

And I want to do my best to make sure we absolutely can afford, and are living in, separate households no later than the end of June.

There. I said it.

I’m committed.

So many years ago, I had to change the wiring in my head in order to be the kind of guy who could really, truly commit to marriage. And mean it. It has taken me many, many years of rejection and other blows to my self-esteem to finally commit to a corrective course of action.

This doesn’t feel like victory. But it does feel… necessary. And about goddamn time.



  1. If financial issues are standing in the way of “the inevitable divorce”, then why not truly become roommates. Share the same house and stuff with the intent of being there for the kids. If you have extra bedrooms, that becomes easy. With a master-bedroom setup, you could even move multiple kids into the master bedroom and you each move into one of the small bedrooms (that way neither of you keeps the large master bedroom).

  2. Yay! You have made a decision. I know it was hard and completely (for lack of a better word) sucks, but remember my new mantra:

    Change is Good!

    I even put it on the mug I made with the kids last week. Rachel wrote ‘Breathe.’ Smart kid.

    You’ll get through this. You have a huge support group. Count me in.

  3. Congratulations- it all starts with a vision and a commitment!

  4. I’m proud of you!

  5. Considering the sorry state of the economy right now, I have to second Taed’s advice. The divorce alone is going to cause a certain amount of discord among your kids. Impoverishing them would only make it worse. By remaining under the same roof, at least you have a good idea of how much money you are going to need. Can you say that for two residences?

  6. Separating is expensive but worth the sacrifice… especially if it’s a “corrective course of action”… great way to say it.

  7. this sounds painful. its really hard to read your blog. but i love the reality and honesty of it.

  8. Listen, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have seen my parents be affectionate towards each other. It’s definitely a cultural thing. But I have inherited this exaggerated sense of personal space. I know that I hold people at a physical and emotional distance and I wish I could change it but I don’t know how. I wish my girlfriends would just hug me sometimes. They all hug each other often but rarely do any of them initiate a hug with me. I know it’s my fault for being awkward and weird about it but I have no idea how to be the huggee (let alone the hugger) and it makes me sad. I don’t know how to fix your situation, and I’m not even suggesting it is fixable. I’m just telling you what effect this might be having on your kids as an additional incentive to move forward and find something that will make you happy and provide all of you with the love and intimacy you deserve.

  9. My therapist made me do this. Lay the plan out and visibly look at it. It is a hard reality but a commitment to follow through instead of pushing off the inevitable. One Dustin doens’t like to look at but ours will follow yours in a way. We will begin the first of the year by him moving out and a filing 30 days after.
    I still go through those moments of “Is this really what we should do” but in the end you and I both know what has to happen in our marriages. Doing it will be the hardest part but the end result will be good.

  10. You know, once that decision is truly truly made in your head and heart, with it comes a real sense of … relief. And I hope you are feeling that.

    The commenter who said you have a huge support system, is utterly right. I hope things go smoothly.

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