No Strings Attached.

Work has been brutal…. we recently had a meeting, a territory review. The best thing I can say about it is that I walked away with my job… no dignity left intact, and no respect for the leadership at my company.  A co-worker and I were commiserating over drinks at the airport… about the meeting, how we felt about it, pondering the next steps…

The job market is tough right now, and I feel both concerned about losing my job and the need to really get away.  I told my co-worker that if i was laid off, I wanted to go on a long-term adventure, and asked him what he recommended.  He preceeded to tell me about two trips he and his 1st wife had taken to Napal.  It opened the door to talk about his 1st wife and their life together…. It was a great trip, he has really fond memories of the trip, and overall of his life with his 1st wife.   I asked him why he married again?  He said he liked that kind of bond, the closeness he had/has found in his marriages.  He then told me that I shouldn’t worry, that I would marry again someday.  I gasped…almost choked on my beverage.  There is no way that I could do THAT again.

Of course (the Paula in me!) that got me thinking about my own Marriage, how I dreamed it would be, how it actually was, and of course, the dissolution of it.  I’m sitting on an airplane now, glass of wine in hand, pondering how it all happened, and why I reacted so strongly against the idea of getting married again. 

My marriage was a good one by most standards, having all the trappings of a good life; two young, successful, financially stable, good looking people finding each other, marrying each other, buying a beautiful house in the burbs, etc..  But as I look back on it, it was a lonely place for me. I spent most of my marriage alone, wishing, wanting, waiting for a “real” partner.

I tell myself all I want is to be with someone that wants to be with me. I dont want a certificate, a kid, obligation of any kind to keep my man around. I want someone to be/stay with me because they are happy there to show up and no other reason.  If they become dissatisfied for any reason and want out, all I ask is that they summon up the courage to tell me they are leaving/want out.  I will gladly help them back their bags.  Its not worth it to me to keep something “together” when both parties aren’t completely and totally into it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of finding a soulmate, someone who truly gets me, and I look forward to the day when I can again experience the bliss that comes with finding the person who loves my quirks ( I have only a few .. 😉  ) and finds me perfectly imperfect.  I am excited and look forward to caring and taking care of another human being.  I’m just saying that if I do ever find this person,  I will hold onto it, enjoy each day for what it is, every moment we have together, because I do believe, there will come a day that I become imperfect to this person and they will want out.  And I want them to know that while we had a good run, if the love is gone, they should be going.  Life is too short to be unhappy.

So, why do I say this?  Because my marriage was a very lonely place for me, and I’m pretty sure it was for the soon-to-be-ex (STBE) as well. I want a relationship filled with passion, intimacy, love, honesty, trust, NOT one that is unfullfilled, obliged to out of guilt, a marriage license, kids, etc.. Here is how this perspective came to be.

  • DREAMS.  I absolutely loved the STBE… feel completely head over heads for him.  I was so enamored with him, he was for me, perfectly imperfect.  He really couldn’t do anything wrong and all I wanted to do was take care of him.

We had some big things come into our lives that shook us up for sure.. work stress, an unexpected live-in experience with a wild teenager, medical issues, etc.  but these are the times when you are supposed to pull together, not apart. And we, given the opportunity to pull together, we couldn’t pull together. We did not lean or count on each other.

  • THE TRUTH.  Looking back on “us”, I dont think he felt the same way about me, but was more mesmerized by the love I showered onto him; having someone fawn over you on a daily basis can be intoxicating (I’m guessing, its never happened to me).  Compound this with his family and friends telling him how great I was (I am fabulous!!).  It’s hard, if not impossible, to keep your head about yourself when someone thinks you are the best thing since sliced bread.  When the eyes you look into every day/night sees a different, better version of you…

I believe quite possibly that the STBE didn’t love me when he married me, and even worse, was unhappy for most of our marriage.  I dont think he will ever have the courage to tell me this, but its what I believe now that I have some clarity and emotional distance from the relationship.

The honeymoon was way over after 6 months of marriage.  I felt like a check-box, like he had a list of things he wanted to do, marriage was one, check, off to the next big thing: triathalons and ironmans.  He disappeared, worked-out a lot, priortizing work and work-outs over time together.  it was a choice he made, and based on where he found happiness. 

  • THE END. My marriage, our marriage, for me, was a very lonely place. When I talked to him about it, he said that my need for and intimacy and connection was my “twin thing” (yes, Paula’s a twin). I thought its what two people shared when they were in touch with their partners, they care for the person they have chosen . He obviously felt differently.

It took a lot of brutal honesty and courage to end my marriage (you guessed it, I’m patting myself on the back, go Paula!!).  You can say that you will do a lot of things to fix it, but it all comes down to actions: are you willing to do anything to have a successful relationship? If the answer is no, then part amicibly, its best for both parties. I do know that I tried absolutely everything to try to get it back on track.  And this is enough for me – I gave it my best shot, my all.

In the end, his actions revealed his true feelings.   He lived with me for years, ambiguous to my presence, pointing out my imperfections, treating me as though I wasn’t as good/smart/athletic as he was. I didn’t see this for a long time, I didn’t want to see it…. but I finally did in April of last year. It was a few really sharp/mean comments from him, the condom in his suitcase after a trip, his non-communicative style; I realized, he was unhappy too, he just didn’t want to admit it or be the “bad guy”. So, I did it, it was hard… but it was absolutely the best thing for the both of us.

So no, I dont ever want to get married again, at least not the kind of married I experienced, its a very lonely place.  I’m happy now, relieved to not be responsible …  happy to be free.  Now, If someone comes along and we experience a true connection, passion, and have a lot of fun together, fabulous… but it will come with brutal honesty and no certificate, it will be over when someone becomes unhappy or disinterested…. It will be a happy place for the both of us, no expectations and no strings attached.

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