These last 7 months have been a time of great introspection for me. In the big timeline of events, it was Nov 2011 when I started to suspect that Catherine was becoming disengaged from our marriage. By Dec 2011 I’d started to suspect she was either “ripe” for an affair, or actually having one. And then, of course, by late Jan 2012, we had the “big blow-up” when she was lying to me about “forgetting” her phone’s PIN code and the rest is more or less history. Recent history anyway… well, recently blogged about in previous posts so I won’t go over it again here… you get my point.
As I’ve gone through this experience I keep asking myself, “What should I have done differently?” And, let me tell you, friendly readers, there are plenty of things I should’ve done differently. Stupid fights over stupid subjects now seem so trivial when compared against the damage we are about to inflict upon our children. Petty positions I would dig in on just because I was spiteful about Catherine’s behavior towards me. The last 3 years of our marriage was a vicious cycle of: Catherine is disenchanted with me for her own reasons and therefore becomes distant; I get pissed off, so I become angry and spiteful; Catherine refuses to have sex with me because she’s distant AND NOW combined with my angry spiteful behavior; I become more spiteful and antagonistic, etc. In Sept 2010 I tried to break out of this behavior: I “pressed the reset button”. I told her I did not want to spend the next 2 years like I’d spent the previous two years. I completely changed my attitude. I stopped arguing over stupid things, I reigned in the anger, I tried to make my marriage work again. She was skeptical, and thought this was “temporary behavior” but I assured her it was not. Drastic situations (like a man trying to save his marriage) required drastic action. To say she was skeptical would be putting it mildly, but after about 6-7 months she did start to turn around and our marriage was… better. The intimacy was still essentially gone but we’d become, essentially, comfortable roommates.
And yet, it was not enough. Whatever damage between us that had been created long ago—and to believe her it goes ALL the way back to when our oldest Mary was born—had taken hold.
So what about those 3 emotions? I’m getting there.
First I must finish this current tangent of what would I have done differently: as mentioned plenty in terms of the petty arguments, but I think most significantly: I would’ve gone to counseling with her much earlier than I did. I’d actually suggested counseling with her back in Sept 2010, but she blew it off saying, “You just want to go there to get more sex!” Which, while being absolutely true, I know now is just a symptom of something deeper I was trying to cure. I desperately wanted her to want me again—to think of me as a man and husband, to want to spend intimate time with me. For many reasons, her seeing me that was gone, and of course, eventually she satisfied her own sexual feelings with another man. Ugh.
And while there plenty of things I would do differently with Catherine if I had a time machine, I don’t have a time machine. So the best I can do is offer up 3 emotions I will NOT be bringing into any future relationship with the next maiden who I am fortunate enough to date.
Discarded Emotion Number 1: Guilt.
This is a bit of a weird one, as I don’t necessarily feel guilty for a lot of my own actions—don’t get me wrong I’m no saint and there are some regrets—but not anything I feel I did morally wrong that I feel “guilty” about. No, the guilt I’m referring to is the guilt that I actually used to try to manipulate Catherine during some of the darker times in the pre-Jan 2011 marriage days into love and/or sex. She was obviously distancing herself from me and I was so frustrated. I try to use logic with her to describe, “Can’t you see… you’re my wife, and you’re my only source! If I want a burrito and you don’t want to make one for me, I can go to Taco Bell, but if I need sex, where do you expect me to get it!” Overly simplified, but the conversations went a lot like that, followed by me storming off to bed angry or giving her the stink eye, or in most cases, just going into a day-long depression.
I have learned, my friends, that you cannot guilt someone into loving you or being intimate with you. It will not happen. And even if you might get a pity-fuck from it, it’s a shallow win. Ms. Next Henry Dater, whoever you are, I commit to you, that if we start having similar problems like the ones that Catherine and I had where you just “don’t see me that way” we’ll start working that problem early and if it cannot be worked out I will do my best to part as friends. I dug in for far too long with Catherine because we have two wonderful children together and I my head is just wired to DO ANYTHING to stay together. That strategy failed me on a monumental level.
Discarded Emotion Number 2: Jealousy.
Generally speaking, I’m typically not a jealous person by nature. Sadly, I am a skeptical (Catherine would probably say suspicious) person by nature. To be candid, the only time I felt jealous was in the very beginning of the relationship with Catherine before it became “serious” (so approximately Jan 2000 through May 2000). And while jealousy did not play a big factor in my relationship with Catherine during the course of our marriage, I think the jealousy I exhibited very early in the relationship did set the tone for some of the foundational ways that Catherine perceived me. I would ask “Who is this guy in this old photo?” or “What are your feelings about insert-ex-boyfriend’s-name-here?”
Much later, when we would argue she would say how I’m such a suspicious person (which I would argue I’m not… I actually was never suspicious of any of Catherine’s behavior until Nov 2011, a full 10 years into our marriage; and of course, she as having an affair now wasn’t she?) Bottom line: I have yet to see how jealousy brings anything productive to a relationship, and indeed, can be very harmful.
Anyway, over the next 12 months I will be finding myself in situations where I am attracted to others. To be honest, as I slowly start to recover I’m slowly becoming friends with and interacting with women now whom I’m finding myself becoming attracted to. And while I have not yet gone on any dates—Hell, I can’t even fathom how logistically I could have date at this point—I will accept that any woman whom I’m attracted to is… well… attractive, and will therefore will have many suitors and a past of her own. And while sometimes we can’t just turn off emotions that we’re feeling, I’m going to do my best to not bring jealousy to the table to my next relationship.
Discarded Emotion Number 3: Insecurity.
Insecurity is Jealousy’s big brother. I will admit to you, dear readers, this one will be the hardest to part with, but not from my lack of trying. Ironically, I would like to think this would be an easy one to discard. Generally speaking, I’m a confident person: I know I can be funny and witty, I am fortunate enough to have over a dozen very close friends whom I can count on—and they can count on—to be there for me no matter what happens. I have a family who loves me (excluding Catherine, of course… well, even Catherine says she loves me, but just thinks we’re incompatible). I’ve been told I’m handsome in the past, sometimes even by women who were not related to me J. While there’s always someone “smarter” out there, I would nonetheless put myself in “smart” category. I’ve got a great job which pays well, I’m good at, and my co-workers appreciate. I’m a good dad who is always there for, and dotes on, engages with, and is 100% committed to his two smart, funny and beautiful daughters. While I wouldn’t define myself as “athletic”, I play ice hockey regularly, and spend lots of times doing outdoor activities. I don’t typically have to “market” myself and list my positives, my friends, and it doesn’t come easy—I’m very cognizant there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance that I do not want to be on the wrong side of.
And yet… and yet… deep down there are demons of insecurity. Am I not “cool” enough for her? Will my body not please her? Am I too short? Is 45 too old? Do girls really like guys with all those tattoos? Am I clever enough for her? Will future Ms. Henry Dater find my sex to be clumsy and awkward and unsatisfying?
I have chatty demons that for whatever reasons constantly try to undermine my confidence, and dear readers, for the life of me I do not know why. I have no clue what possible benefit—aside from perhaps providing me unhealthy motivation to try to do better in whatever area I’m stressing on—that these chatty demons bring to the table. In the past (and sometimes in the very recent past… we’re not talking ancient history now…) these insecurities have made me question my value, perhaps even seek out validation. A big part of the reason I’m writing Divorced D20 Blog is to try to expose some of this, be a much more “transparent” version of me. In real life, I’ve often said how I sometimes feel like I’m “on stage” and that only a very close few get to see the real me. Well, the real me is insecure, and insecure about a lot of things. Now you know. I don’t think having an adulterous wife who lied to me for the last 6 months is going to help me achieve the goal of losing insecurity… but I will try my friends. I don’t know how, but I will try to make progress. I’m making slow strides now. Whenever I feel myself become insecure (or indeed even jealous) I am just trying to recognize it for what it is, hear what I’m insecure about… and then do nothing about it. I don’t think my insecure feelings and chatty demons contributed significantly to the downfall of my marriage, but I sure as hell know they will prevent me from moving forward which I desperately want to do.
#divorce #adultery #marriage #dating #relationships #recovery