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Why we won’t

September 14, 2010

Welcome to the first-ever blog post uploaded from this apartment since I moved here over two years ago! I resisted forever, wary that Internet access would distract me from my other (analog) writing. But I have two blogs now, and now that I’m working free-lance there could be a lot more in the works. So as I write this, the cable guy has exactly 84 minutes to get here and hook me up.

And speaking of hooking up (segue!), since this blog started, a lot of people have asked us if it might be a stepping stone toward our reconciliation. These people include Mike Huckabee, who, in one of my life’s more surreal moments, sang us a few improvised lyrics of “Blogging My Way Back to You.” Given the tenor of our posts so far, I can see how readers could think that opening up our lives like this might be a way to help us get back together.

I don’t think that’s going to happen.

There’s no use distilling years of therapy into a few paragraphs, but—at the risk of speaking for both of us—since the breakup, we’ve discovered a lot about ourselves and each other. We’ve analyzed why we wanted to marry, and I’ve come to realize that those perceptions and motivations just don’t exist anymore. So knowing her and me as I do now, getting together seems like trying to cram the butterfly back into the chrysalis. Besides, we met in 1996. So technically, each cell in our bodies has died and regenerated twice over since then.

I think Moxie and I are better friends than she does. Perhaps that’s a gender thing, because women tend to connect on a deeper level than men do. I still like her well enough, in the sense that I want good things for her—mostly because a happy mama makes for happier kids. But I’m not in love with her anymore, and that ship has sunk.

I don’t say that lightly, because not being in love with the mother of my kids is a drag. Ever since I was a young adult, I had visualized a specific event in my head. It was to attend my youngest kid’s college graduation, look over at my wife, my life partner, plant a big kiss on her and say, “We did it.” We stayed together, we weathered the storms, and we did all we could to raise emotionally stable kids who can function in the adult world.

I spent a long time mourning what I perceived was the loss of that, but when you think about it, it’s still sort of partially possible. All that’s really missing is the kiss, the most expendable pigment in the painting.

I was thinking about all this on Sunday, when Moxie and I sat at this table and filled out the mega-reams of paperwork for the kids’ new school year. We’re collaborators now. We’re Lennon and McCartney, navigating a partnership that will be sometimes friendly, sometimes feudly, and hoping that, after 16 more years or so, our kids will be a pair of Sergeant Peppers. And that’ll do.

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. September 14, 2010 9:20 pm

    My parents never had to talk to each other because I lived with my mom’s parents and my dad, who had me every Sunday, communicated with them. My parents didn’t even talk on my WEDDING day. That still stings, and we’ve been married almost 11 years now. You’re right, you can still relish in those moments years off, just without the kiss!

  2. afc permalink
    September 14, 2010 9:29 pm

    am really curious: how many spouses do you think are still in love? i know that i’m not … after almost 14 years of marriage & close to 20 of being together, i sure do love him, but in love with him i am not. if we took an informal poll of couples married more than 10 years, i’d be really curious to see the percentage who say they are still in love with their spouse. i’ve always sort of thought that it was just normal relationship maturation that sort of took off the sheen of being in love and transformed it to a more abiding type of love.

    • Vickie permalink
      September 15, 2010 11:02 am

      I guess I am lucky in that in my different circles of friends who’ve been married more than 10 years, I’m pretty sure we’re all still in love with our spouses. And to speak just for myself, the quality of the passion I have for my husband has changed many times over the years, but it’s still there. I don’t take for granted that things will never change–who knows what the future holds? But right now I’m pretty sure we’re both committed to keeping the “in love” component strong for the long haul.

  3. kimberlymoore permalink
    September 14, 2010 11:06 pm

    I think that many people choose to stay in loveless marriages. If is wasn’t for chronic dishonesty, I may have too. But from the other side of a divorce, as someone who has fallen in love again- I am happy to live an authentic life, and I hope my children always choose that too.

  4. September 15, 2010 2:36 am

    “because not being in love with the mother of my kids is a drag’

    Yes. That is what I’m trying very hard to get past. It’s the thing I’m clinging to and mourning, as you say.

  5. September 15, 2010 5:27 am

    Love the comparison to Lennon and McCartney. Love it.

    My ex came over on our youngest’s first day of kindergarten to see him get picked up by the bus. As it drove off, I started to well up and had an overwhelming urge to hug him. (Not romantically, but in a “that’s our boy” tender momenet kind of way.)

    The moment passed and we didn’t hug, but we still shared a strong “we did it” moment, even though we split when the kid was just an infant.

    I guess it’s a sign that our co-parenting biz is working well.

    I know my divorced parents never could’ve/would’ve shared a moment like that.

    We didn’t have a good marriage, but I think we’ve got a good divorce.

  6. askmoxie permalink*
    September 15, 2010 10:59 am

    Just Jess, the really funny thing for me is that I don’t like The Beatles and wouldn’t want to be either Lennon or McCartney!

    afc, that’s a good question. The only thing I can think to compare it to is that in love feeling I have for my kids, but I know that’s a warped comparison. I do know that my mom still has that for my brother and me (37 and 34 years in, respectively). But is it even possible with a spouse?

    • Brett permalink
      September 17, 2010 8:10 pm

      Come on. You don’t like The Beatles?

      • LOD permalink*
        September 19, 2010 10:04 pm

        Exactly! Right?

      • askmoxie permalink*
        September 20, 2010 11:10 am

        I like “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road” and “Drive My Car” and “Come Together.” And Earth Wind and Fire’s cover of “Got To Get You Into My Life.” But that’s pretty much it.

        My desert island artist is Stevie Wonder.

  7. September 15, 2010 11:09 am

    I didn’t love my husband for a long time before I decided I was ready to leave. There were certainly long moments of “well, this is just what happens in a marriage, romantic love isn’t guaranteed for life.” And if everything else had been fine, maybe I would have stayed in that comfortable if unexciting place for a lot longer. Since everything else wasn’t fine and there were issues that weren’t going to be resolved, I left, and having fallen out of love made the leaving easier. It has also made the co-parenting easier, I’ve found. I learned to tolerate his stuff because it wasn’t directly affecting me, and he goes along kind of clueless like he always has. That said, I totally get how annoying the “oh, so you get along, you must be getting back together” thing is. People don’t seem to grasp that it really is possible to be friendly, and even friends, with someone you used to sleep next to every night. My ex and I do hug. We see each other almost every day and fight rarely. We do have those “we did it” moments (although more and more often, *I* did it and he tagged along, but whatever, I’m willing to share the credit in the interest of harmony and parent-child relationships.)

    Some people grow and change together in a relationship, and yay for them. Some people grow and change apart and stay together and make each other miserable. And some of us grow and change and realize that we are not the same people who vowed to love and cherish, and that’s ok, really, that we can be better people apart.

  8. Crystal permalink
    September 15, 2010 11:12 am

    I have been married nearly 13 yrs and I am still in love with my husband. Am I in lust every day?no. Do I like him every single moment? No. But there are so many times, after a bicker fest or real arguement, when I stop and make myself think about him. I think about his drive…his unselfishness….his deep love for our children…his need of my affection…his strength…and sometimes his nice dark hair and strong masculine physique, etc and so forth. These thoughts help me realize in a mature and realistic way that I am in love with him. If we were apart I would feel ripped in two. He is my rock and refuge. My home. Without him I would feel “homesick”. I would not feel free and at liberty to be myself. Myself is part of hisself and vice versa. I can be a better me because he is my mirror, for positive or negative. It is up to me to be assertive when he isn’t getting it or back down when I see a truth about myself in his eyes.
    He is the best of men and humans in general and if I couldn’t be in love with one so good and true, then I don’t know where I would find someone as worthy as he.
    On another note, I am loving this blog for the simple reason that you guys are working so hard for your kids. This is universal, married or not.

    • LOD permalink*
      September 15, 2010 12:05 pm

      Thanks, Crystal, for expressing this so eloquently. And I’m glad this has come up, because Moxie and I didn’t just look at each other one day and say, “Meh.” I know that toward the end of the marriage, I envied pairings like yours who seemed to have something we lacked. And that would have gnawed at me a lot more than single parenting ever has.

  9. Crystal permalink
    September 15, 2010 1:45 pm

    You are so welcome. And thank you two, for making a married person stop and consider how lucky she is and also, and this is big, helping me see how I can better co-parent with my spouse. Aren’t we all coparenting? Our marriages are separate issues. It is imperative that every single parent stop and consider how they affect their coparents parenting! Discussing how you will react and what you will do in x,y,z instance, with each other is just plain good parenting in general. Its like a fire escape plan. If we are going to do this right, then we have to be on the same page. An example: having a plan for what will happen when I walk into a room and he is having a frustrating/bad parenting moment with a child, and the reverse. I can’t undermine and nor can I let it continue. I can say “I think we need a fire escape!” and that is code for send the child away and regroup. I will leave the room and trust that you are going to do this. I am gone, the child is gone from both of us and he can gather his wits and consider his options. He can consult me or not. I just have to trust him. I can do this because I know he is reasonable when he is calm. And he isn’t mad at me for lecturing him in something I also commit myself at times.
    So I see it as similar, the having consideration for each other and the kids. The diff is that it affects my marriage. Does that make sense?

  10. September 15, 2010 8:30 pm

    This may be too personal a question and I apologize in advance if it is, but are either of you in a relationship? From my vantage point of very newly separated, I’ve almost come to terms with us being apart and parenting our kids as two single people, but when I start to envision another person in the equation (and of course, that person would be whatever dude my soon to be ex-wife hooks up with), I start to feel physically ill. And then I imagine past the jealousy into the area of this person spending time with my kids. And then I get REALLY ill.

    Anyway, just wondering, if either of you are in a relationship, how you are managing that both emotionally and logistically.

    • LOD permalink*
      September 16, 2010 11:42 am

      That’s fodder for a separate post. The short answer for me is that if the kids don’t need to know about it, it’s not relevant for publication.

      • September 16, 2010 1:46 pm

        Understood.

  11. September 16, 2010 10:40 am

    This is my first time to visit…pretty cool thing y’all are working on here.
    Doug, glad to have had the privilege of spending some time together last weekend. I’ve enjoyed reading your words in multiple places for a while now.

  12. September 17, 2010 7:59 am

    We were married for 13 years and split when the kids were in upper elementary/jr high. What saved our relationship was that, after three years of “No, no, tomorrow you’re at Mom’s” shared custody, I had to move across the country to find work, and then she remarried and moved to Europe. The Atlantic makes a decent buffer. (The kids were with me, but saw her several times a year.)

    Even without the day-to-day “Did he wear his boots?” micro-interference, we found things to quarrel over, mostly money. We spoke when we needed to, wrote when it had lasting significance, in those days before email was everywhere.

    But we did graduations together, not only civilly but with some affection. At younger son’s wedding, I made it a point to walk in with her husband as a quiet display of family unity, and he really was an interesting fellow who was very good to my kids. With both kids out of college, the money questions are gone and we can interact as I would with any of my former lovers — affectionate in an arm’s-length tone, not going there again but faintly nostalgic for a moment long past. (I mean, I have some good memories of college, too, but there’s a difference between strolling through campus and signing up to live in a dorm room and eat in the dininghall again.)

  13. norm permalink
    September 17, 2010 12:26 pm

    I am finding this blog heartbreaking and inspirational at the same time. I have to keep reading!
    Thanks.

  14. BratGrrl permalink
    September 19, 2010 7:34 am

    I find that it is more useful and healthy for me and my coparent to stick to talk about our daughter and raising her into a healthy, happy member of this planet rather than why we did not work out. Unless, you know, we really do want the flames to go up.

    • askmoxie permalink*
      September 20, 2010 11:08 am

      BratGrrl, yes. Which is why one of the not-so-nice side effects of this blog has been all kinds of people asking us why we didn’t work out or if we’ll get back together. Anyone who’s been through the whole divorce process can understand that it’s not something you just do on a whim, but we got the question enough that LOD wrote about it. It’s interesting being a window into divorce for people who aren’t divorced. But not stuff that would otherwise ever come up anymore.

      • yasmina permalink
        September 23, 2010 2:15 am

        I, as a “happily married” reader, do appreciate the posts in analyzing why ‘getting back together” is not possibility. This type of writings is as educational and relevant as the pre “co-parenting” ones. So, thank you very much for sharing and answering our readers’ questions.

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