By the fall of last year, even I had to admit that my husband had been having problems. We barely saw each other and when we did we were living more like room mates than husband and wife. It had been going on for quite some time. In fact, my husband had spoken of separation months prior. But in a hysterical fit of panic and fear, I was incredulous.
It’s only been 3 years. How could you give up this quickly? You told me you were going through something, and needed space. I gave you space. What are you saying? What do you want me to do?
He demanded more attention.
I demanded he help pay the bills.
By Thanksgiving it was pretty obvious that things were too far gone for us to fix without help. I kept trying to talk to him, but he kept dodging me. So I waited until we took my car to the garage for inspection. I pretended that I needed his help and didn’t want to go without him. He was happy to help. I knew I’d only have about 30 minutes while it was up on the lift to get a straight answer out of him.
Or so I thought.
I told him that I wanted us to see a counselor to see if they could help fix our very broken marriage.
He sighed with relief.
I also told him that I expected him to start bringing in a certain amount of money. He’s an actor and things hadn’t been going well for his career, but aside from a part-time job with a non-profit he made no attempt to make more money. (Not that I could see anyway). I was no longer going to borrow money from my parents or take on projects that were killing me just to make ends meet. I wanted help.
I needed his help.
I also told him that I wanted him to find us a therapist, and that I was not going to enable our situation anymore. (My future therapist would be so proud of me.) If he wanted to make this relationship to work, he was going to do some of the heavy lifting too. He was going to have to decide how to move forward from here.
2 days later when I asked him what his decision was he told me that he was leaving.
I know he was speaking in coherent sentences, (he’s good at that), but my head felt like it got dunked underwater for a minute and all I could hear was, need space, we need some time, I should go.
“I’m sorry, what? Go where? Upstairs? Separate bedrooms? Across the street? What?”
“I should move out.”
What I meant to say at that moment was. WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?! But with all the screaming going on in my head, all could say was…
“Really.” More of a statement, than a question.
You see, I don’t believe if two people are trying to fix a marriage, a car or dinner, that you should separate. It’s counterintuitive to me. If you’re going to fix a problem, you roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty and fix it. You don’t leave. Leaving makes the parties involved go back to living the way they lived before things got messy. And the hole that starts out small, just gets bigger. Why would you leave the comfort of clean and calm for messy and crazy?
I told him as much.
“I need to go.”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know.”
He frowned and gave me that look he gives me when he thinks I’m being condescending and sarcastic. I took the bait. I pulled the sheets up tighter around me and put on my best you-are-not-going-to-hurt-me-or-make-me-cry-expressionless-mask and asked…
“Ok fine. When are you leaving?”
“Just like that? That’s all you have to say? This doesn’t even affect you?”
Ah. I see the mask is working.
“Affect me? I’ve been crying for months, trying to figure out what’s been going on with you and you said nothing. When I approached you said nothing. When I begged you to tell me what was wrong you said that you were”just going through something” and that you needed more time. So I gave you time. Then a few months ago you come to me and tell me that I haven’t been paying enough attention to you. So which is it? You’re obviously confused.”
He looked like I’d slapped him.
(The thought had crossed my mind, but it’s virtually impossible to slap someone and keep your mask on straight).
“You’re right. I’m confused. I should go.”
“Right. So like I said. When are you leaving?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well let me know.”
And with that I rolled over and pretended to go to sleep.