September 20, 2001

Overcoming Inertia

This entry first appeared in my semi-private journal on
(For access to that journal, please email me.)
But there's nothing in it that is private (as far as I'm concerned) anymore so without further ado...

When I began to write an online journal (for reasons that remain shrouded in mystery even to myself), I needed a short, pithy description for webring submissions.

I came up with this:

The struggle between a world of possibilities opening up, and better-the-evil-you-know.. or whatever happens to be on my mind.

It's becoming increasingly clear which side of the struggle is winning.

On Monday I told my husband I think we should be separated.

I knew this talk was coming, and within the week, but he was the one who initiated it by asking me what he was doing wrong and why I was picking on him.

There's a twenty-five year history here which I don't have the energy to go into; the short version is that he is a critic and became so from the morning after our wedding.
He can't, or won't, say anything positive. I don't understand why it was possible while we were dating and while we were engaged, but became impossible afterwards.

His idea of "working things out" is to keep his mouth shut and try to criticize less.

I have tried to communicate to him that I realize I'm not perfect and that most of his complaints are fair enough; my problem is that he doesn't balance them out with any positives.
Even when given the opportunity.
One time I dressed up a bit for a bowling banquet; (my definition of "dressing up" is pants as opposed to jeans, and a sweater or nicer top as opposed to a tshirt or sweatshirt; I might even comb my hair and put on lipstick).. the kids told me how nice I looked; all he said was "Your feet are swollen."

Anyway, like I said I don't want to belabour the point.

So he asked me why it wasn't going well even though he was trying.
I told him that it wasn't anything he was doing now so much as the entire history of our marriage, and that I thought we should be separated.
I watched his face.
He just sat there, expressionless, for at least a minute.
Then some sadness settled in.
I elaborated that I would like to try an "in house" separation first, for the sake of the kids. He asked me to define that.
"I will move out of the bedroom. We will be co-parents and run the household together as always but with the understanding that we will eventually go our own ways."
He said nothing.
I told him (in a calm, matter of fact manner) that he was emotionally and mentally abusive. Others have begun to notice, in particular some of Rob's friends and his (Hubby's) own brother, and he is aware of that.
He said nothing.
He finally remarked that he didn't have much of a choice, and I suppose he doesn't, short of leaving or throwing me out, neither of which is to his advantage, financially if for no other reason.

After awhile he asked if it would do any good to consider counselling now. (He had refused to go when I first suggested it, years ago.) I said no, it wouldn't do any good but that if he wanted to try it he would have to make all the arrangements and I would attend and be honest.
He said that if it wouldn't do any good, there was no point.

The kids have been told; that was, in my head, the biggest hurdle.
They took it better than I expected.
(I don't think it's possible for them to have taken it worse than I feared!)
Mark asked a lot of "why" questions, including why we didn't try counselling. I had no answer for that. I refuse to throw blame around even if that's how I feel. The consequences of that road far outweigh the momentary satisfaction I might (or might not) get.
Rob really seemed to understand. He knows me quite well and said he wasn't surprised but of course he was upset.

They have both said they don't want us to ever live apart because then they'd have two houses to visit.

They sure know how to throw around the guilt.

Three days into this new arrangement, things are settling back to normal. As far as I'm concerned, they're better than normal: I get to stay in my house (for now) and live with my kids (for now) but without pretending that we're the Andersons or the Cleavers.

For all practical purposes, the biggest change is my sleeping location, now on a comfortable single futon downstairs. It seems there wasn't much of a marriage in place at all, and declaring that it was over was just a formality.
We are civil; sometimes friendly; we cooperate in running the household and being parents; I have no idea what's going on in his head; in other words, same as always.

For the first two days I was stressed out with anxiety and nausea but that abated once the kids were finally told (separately, they're hard to pin down sometimes) and the world didn't come to an end.
And yes, the timing, against the backdrop of world events, is weird to say the least but the point of no return had been passed before last week and trying to slow down the progress of my personal life was futile.

So, I've done something that I seriously believed I'd never have the courage to do. Maybe not so much has changed on the surface but the dynamics of the household are noticeably different (he is treating me with more respect, for one) and I consider this if not a baby step, then the first step of many in the coming months and years.

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