Today would have been fifteen years married. Twenty years since we started dating; that’s half of my life. Half of his too. We checked the right boxes. Wedding, house, dog, kid, another kid, cat, new house, another dog, picket fence. We made the right promises at the time – always and forever, until death, cherish, honor and, of course, love. And I still do. It confounds people when I say that. I think it even confounds him.
I love him still. I always will.
It just is. I used to believe that with enough time, therapy and arguments, it would end. I realized one day that it never will. In many ways I am grateful for that. We have been through it all together and even though we are now “apart,” I hope with every fiber of my being that this is the start to something we always struggled with, friendship. I hope that we are able to find our way, however difficult, however heartbreaking and however long it takes.
When we fight now, it’s really no different. We have still not found the right or best way to communicate. We drive each other nuts. We hurt each other regularly. He is fond of saying “we know just which buttons to push.” After 20 years, I think we are just on autopilot.
The love we had is bigger than the struggles, bigger than the messes and bigger than even the “right decision” to be apart. The sun always rose and set with him, for me. Even if that has changed, my horizon is not right without him in it. Our family is a new version but we are still very much a family. Our incredible kids are a gift I’ll be grateful to him for, forever.
Someone asked me recently how much of our marriage I was happy and when did I know it was over? Both are such difficult questions to answer. We’d likely each have unique response too. What I do know is that every time I talk to someone who is still in the throes of this mess they call “divorcing,” I feel blessed. We survived. We came away different. We came away apart. We came away changed. But, we survived and each of us is thriving.
I think the best gift we’ve given each other since is acceptance. We accept that we were not meant to be. We accept that we are each happier now. We accept that we were broken and unmendable. We accept that our wants and our needs were too far apart. We accept that this, while life changing and heartbreaking, is better.
But I regret nothing. I’d change very little. This was our story. We wrote it, we lived it and we ended it with a level of grace. With that chapter completed, our own stories goes on. We will always be characters in each other’s tales. The vows of marriage are over. The vows of family endure. Happy noniversary to that.