Empty as a sock puppet

Image courtesy of Amanda on Flickr.com; some rights reserved.

It is so difficult to work yourself up to have the gumption to leave a bad marriage. And mine’s not bad. It’s just disappointing and lonely. Sometimes disturbing. Peppered with hauntingly sweet moments that occur often enough to serve as contrast, but not often enough to sustain me.

Surprise — bad marriages may be hard to leave, but it’s equally hard to leave a marriage like mine, one that’s 50% good, 10% really bad and 40% meh. His long, lingering affair was devastating. But it grew out of his refusal to communicate his dissatisfactions, worries, irritations and angry thoughts with me for our entire marriage. And the characterless way he dealt with his dissatisfaction.

For the record, I own 100% of my part in our failing marriage. But I own exactly zero percent of the blame for how he CHOSE to deal with his unhappiness (by having an affair). Even since then, he clings to the idea of doing the same things, just better, instead of admitting that “not communicating with the wife so we can avoid fights” is a terrible idea. I used to take quiet pride in the fact we’ve had so very, very few arguments over the years.

However, a very good counselor told me that’s not really a good sign when a couple doesn’t engage about their differences.

We have limped on without really changing since the affair erupted into the spotlight.

It’s agonizing to think about deliberately losing the guy who’s been my lover and best friend for 20+ years now. Even when that same best friend has done the emotional equivalent of turning and stabbing me.

He handles good and sweet moments so beautifully. It’s when we need to “talk turkey” or even argue that he falls apart. When falling apart doesn’t work, he will bow up and rage, which I know would shock the people who know his sweet side. He literally cannot stand it if I’m irritated with him, if I speak in an angry tone, or if I’m actually furious. It frightens him, and he reacts with loud anger and imposing body language designed to shut me down.

I’d be surprised if he decided to leave our marriage first, although it may happen. He might do a “cut and run” and flee the marriage like it’s a burning building. Maybe that would be a good thing and relieve me of the guilt I’m coping with. But it seems unlikely. He struggles to even discuss difficult topics, much less take any action. (I sympathize with this difficulty, but it’s his choice not to work on it, when he knows our marriage is at stake.)

How did I not realize, those many  years ago, that I was marrying someone who wouldn’t participate? It feels like I married a cute, warm, fuzzy and very dear sock puppet … and I was surprised to find there’s no hand inside the sock.

I feel like a bad person — someone with an inadequate human spirit — for not wanting to try anymore. I wouldn’t judge someone else for leaving a similar relationship, so why am I at war with myself?

I’m realizing that this marriage is never going to get better. And I’m tired of it not being enough. He’s not a terrible person. Neither of us is.

While I’m quietly saving money (probably a process of 2-3 years, realistically) so that I *can* leave if the marriage remains this distant, I will remain open to being very pleasantly surprised if the relationship dynamics change. But I am not hopeful. I don’t want to be the little “I think I can” engine that tries to pull this shitload of bricks up the hill anymore.

When I get close to having enough exit money, I will sit him down and say that I can’t do this anymore, and I hope he has a happy life away from mine. I’ll make sure that the two of us are as debt-free as possible then, too, because I don’t want to leave him in bad circumstances. Maybe that’s just me trying to appease my own guilt for leaving, but it makes me feel more at peace to make that promise to myself. I will be decent, fair and honorable in the way that I leave. I’ve done that twice before with my exes. Third time’s no different.

I won’t drop it on him meanly or out of the blue. He knows how unhappy I am, and he’s not happy either.

I have divorced twice before, and it’s a bitter pill to realize that I still make bad decisions, choosing men out of emotional neediness rather than out of true compatibility. But it’s better to admit my mistakes than to keep trying with someone who shows no signs of trying alongside me.

I don’t know if I will be able to leave my marriage. But I know that I want to be ABLE to do so if I come to that decision.

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