Last night I had that conversation. The one all unhappy couples avoid.
I’m going to have to go back and re-read some of my previous posts. I took a brief look at my most recent (from May this year) and I can see how stuck I’ve been for a long time.
I’ve read and re-read piles of separation and marriage and divorce help books. I’ve been through that horrible cycle of ambivalence over and over. I’ve chided myself for being immature and told myself that this is what relationships are all about. Enduring shit, you know? I’ve told myself I’m being selfish, that I need to put my kids first. I’ve wallowed in guilt for even thinking of putting them through the crap we would no doubt have to go through.
I’ve smothered those screaming voices in my head and my heart as much as I can, stomped them down into the pit of my soul and convinced myself that it’s okay. We can make this work.
And it works for a little while. Until the cycle begins again. Anyone who’s been through it knows what I’m talking about. All the articles and books and blog posts you read about the whole relationship ambivalence cycle liken it to a rollercoaster ride, but I beg to differ. It’s more like the Rotor. That cylindrical ride which spins around so fast that you find yourself pinned to the wall and completely without any control.
After going through this cycle numerous times this year (and it gets longer and longer each time, I’ve noticed), I finally took myself off to a relationship counsellor. I had a couple of sessions with him, and he suggested bringing in my partner for joint counselling. And while at the time I started seeing the counsellor I was feeling quite strongly that I should end our relationship, I agreed, as I figured it couldn’t hurt. My counsellor had suggested a particular program that he runs, where we both complete an online questionnaire about the relationship which he then assesses, and then we come into counselling and work on the issues that have been highlighted.
So I suggested to my partner that we either need to do something about the relationship or end it (he agreed and said that he’d considered a separation himself). So we agreed to do this questionnaire. The counsellor sent it to us both and told us that when we’d both completed it, he’d be in touch to arrange our first session.
I completed my questionnaire within the first couple of days. As we were told, it only takes about half an hour to complete. But a week went by and then a few more days and I still hadn’t been contacted by the counsellor regarding the joint counselling session. And I started to think to myself how bloody typical this was; my partner obviously hadn’t prioritised the issue of counselling, instead preferring to sit in front of the tv rather than take action.
And then after that initial reaction, I started to feel a huge sense of relief. I started to feel thankful that he hadn’t done the questionnaire, and feel hopeful that he would just forget all about it entirely. I felt absolved and that all my doubts about our relationship were correct. And I knew then, without a doubt, that I didn’t want to work on this relationship. Emotionally speaking, I have left it a long time ago. The reason that we never seem to make any progress on reconciling and building a happier relationship is because in my heart of hearts, I don’t want to.
And I don’t know when this occurred, but it just did, somewhere along the line. All the times I’ve convinced myself that it could work and I’ve still stopped trying is because I didn’t really want to. I’ve been fighting against myself.
So last night, I sat down with my partner and I told him how I’d realised I didn’t want to go through with the counselling. I told him that I don’t believe I am prepared to work at fixing things. I told him that I think we need to separate. He asked why and I told him I didn’t really have the answer, but that I’ve been fighting against that feeling for a long, long time and I finally need to trust myself. I apologised for being a crappy partner and for putting our family through the crap that we are about to go through.
It went better than I expected. I anticipated yelling and disdain and harsh, angry words. But he wasn’t. He was cold and angry, which he has every right to be, and I expect that he will be for a long time yet. But he didn’t rant, he didn’t rave.
And he didn’t protest that he loved me. I think if he had, I might not feel so confident this morning that I am absolutely doing the right thing, or I might at least feel a little guilty. As it is, I feel bad for the pain he and I and the kids will probably go through over the next couple of years, but I don’t feel guilty. I went to bed before him last night (we’re still in the same room) and he came in and slammed things about a bit (which is what he does when he’s cranky), but I was awake from around 3-ish for a couple of hours and he seemed to be sleeping peacefully. At least, he was snoring away like he normally does, so I figure he’s not too disturbed.
So I don’t feel guilty. I know that I am making the right decision here, as horrible as it is all going to be. I believe that ultimately we are all going to be happier.
That said, I know that the worst is yet to come. I’m not congratulating myself just yet; there is a long, long way to go.