Sunday, June 5

happily ever after and clarity : part 1 & part 2

What is it about marriage that automatically dictates "happily ever after"? Each night I read my daughter a story and sing her a song before she closes her eyes to dream. And inevitably the story ends up being some fairy tale about a princess and a prince and "they lived happily ever after".

I always have a hard time when I come to that part of the story. Invariably I want to change those words to something like "and they lived as happily as they could" or "and they worked at their marriage and that's how they lived happily ever after". Some nights I feel the story should end with "and they lived happily ever after as long as Prince Charming didn't fuck things up. Goodnight, Sweetheart."

Because how many couples do we really know who are actually living happily ever after? How many are separating/divorcing? How many are merely existing together, pretending to be happy or, just as bad, waiting for happiness to just happen to them? And how many are actually, truly, happy together?

I know more couples who fall into the first two categories than I do in the last. The one couple I do know that has a very successful and happily-ever-after-esque marriage is the only couple I've ever known to have dedicated so much to each other and to working out every issue. Indeed, they are an inspiration to me.

But my own marital issues and relationship problems have, at times, left me bewildered at how what that couple has ended up being not what my husband and I have.

And it's led me to some very difficult questions that I've had to seek out equally difficult answers to over the last year.

Does a person's first marriage have to be *the* marriage? Does their second? Third? Should they be cut off at some point, like they've met their limit?

What if what you thought was *the* marriage doesn't work out? What if you discover that the person you thought you'd made vows to is really someone entirely different? How do you reconcile that?

And how much of yourself do you throw into solving those issues, those discrepencies before you realize you've exhausted everything you are just to find you're the only one in the marriage trying to address those issues?

And how do you tell your five year old daughter who loves the idea of Prince Charming and off-into-the-sunset-to-eternal-bliss that "happily ever after" is what you make it and that sometimes two people just can't make it?

Human is human. Relationships are complicated. Happily ever after isn't simply three magical words.

I can't explain that to her. I can't destroy her dreams even though I feel like I've already begun to do that...

Note : This blog post was written a couple months after the hubby and I decided to separate in 2011. At the time, it was a bit of a mutual decision - he would disagree that it was mutual, but, in reality, when you've chosen to blatantly disregard your marriage vows, one can't be entirely too shocked to hear from your wife the words "I think it best we go our separate ways"... and so we did. It was ugly. It was heartbreaking. It sucked shit. I found out about the affairs several days after I wrote this post.

From a separate post originally published on July 5, 2011:

"Are you clear on the decision you're making? Because whether you choose to stay or choose to go, there are grave implications either way."

This is what my closest confidante stated as I sobbed after revealing to her all that I'd held in my heart for the past few years regarding my relationship with the man I had married over 13 years ago. I'd just told him a few hours earlier that I was "done", that I felt it best we go our separate ways, that I wanted a divorce, and I knew that I'd have never uttered a word of it to him if I wasn't confident in my decision.

And she knew it too.

She then told me : "Stay focused. Keep your eye on the end goal of getting out of this relationship. Get angry later. Funnel that energy, that anger, into being productive, being strength and structure for your children and taking care of you. Stay focused and keep your goal right here" and she gently placed my clenched fist directly in front of my eyes, blocking out everything else in the world.

My decision to divorce wasn't made on a whim. It wasn't a "this is the easiest way out" sort of thing. It was something I'd contemplated for over four years - and it was contemplation that I'd done entirely on my own.

No one knew how bad things had gotten between me and my husband. No one knew I was even thinking about this. Because I knew that I was the only one who could contemplate it - and I knew that the only one who could help work on the relationship was the husband.

Serious contemplation was prompted by consistently having to fight for air, importance and recognition in our relationship and the nagging feeling that there was no happiness to be created in what we called a marriage.

Called a marriage. We clearly had a differing of views and there was no meeting in the middle for him. What I believed a marriage should be - a heaven created by two people who mutually and genuinely want the best for one another, who face the same direction and walk side by side encouraging one another in the path to their dreams because they believe in the wonder of that person and the beauty of the heaven the two of them have created. That's what I thought he believed a marriage should be as well.

Instead, however, our "marriage" began to look like something completely different - not lovers, sweethearts, best friends, not even co-parents but roommates. What was left of our relationship four years ago had rapidly begun to deteriorate as we spent considerably less time together because he focused on other things (oh, let's loosely call it "work") and I was left to navigate raising the children by myself.

That's what he wanted. He made it clear by his actions as well as in some talk therapy we participated in. He was happy-ish because he was getting what he wanted. 

And it was one recent day while I was watching my then five-year-old daughter joyfully, gracefully dance around the room with her two-year-old brother in tow, the two of them taking in life, enjoying it, letting it swirl inside them and then giving that energy back to the world... it donned on me: I wouldn't in my wildest dreams wish a relationship like this for either of them.

But what was I doing if not encouraging them to seek it out later in life if I stayed and continued to exemplify it to them?

They don't deserve this. No, I realized: they deserve so much more. "And I'm not going to be the one to teach them different than that."

After that realization, it's like I took a deep breath, steadied myself, and leapt. Those years of contemplation had slowly led me to that moment of clarity but it was that actual moment, those dreams dancing so innocently before me that catapulted me forward.

"Are you clear on the decision you're making...? Then stay focused and keep your goal right here."


  1. Why so serious? Your daughter is a kid and it is her age to enjoy fairy tales. No need for you to make her understand the complications of any marital life. With age she will herself learn what she needs to about complexities of any relationship and not just between a Prince or a Princess. At this stage all she needs to know is that there in LOVE all around her. Period.

  2. I totally agree with Meetu. It hurts now, later, you'll LOL about all this drama when evrything is done. SMILE the world has not ended.

  3. Do not complicate things for your princess. Let her enjoy the "happily-ever-after" every night...