Learning What Marriage Is….and Isn’t

Have you ever looked at your ex, soon to be ex or whatever it might be that you might want to call it and wonder, “why the hell did I marry you?” Then it hits me…I was 19 stupid and believed every word he said. I am sure he’s pondered the very same question a time or two with me. It is what it is.

Jack (I call him Jack because I think it’s funny), was close to 30 when he met me; I was 18. We met online…he started the lie of how we met on a skiing trip. He didn’t want to deal with the questions and the snubs from others of how we met online.

It was fast; I knew it. I was young and dumb–I will admit it. He came to see me in Jan 1997 and by Feb 2, 1997 I was flying down to see him. My mother was flipping out. No…flip out isn’t the right word. Mama bear? Raging lunatic? Mama Raging Lunatic Bear. Yup that’s it. Me, trying to spread my wings, “he loves me.” Her and I were down each other throats. Why do we as children think our parents are idiots? And they haven’t experienced life? In true fashion and like many children before me have done–I didn’t heed my mother’s advice.

I was only going for 2 weeks. How bad could it be? Well, two weeks later I ended up staying. Jack proposed to me while having sex Feb 12, 1997. Okay OKAY I know ….now; you don’t marry the man that does this. That wasn’t in the YM magazine. March 4th….found out I was pregnant; two days after my 19th birthday.

It’s hard to not look at hind sight. You truly see things a whole lot clearer. Jack would say that I live in a fairy tale world. Honey, that was no fairy tale.

I look back at how young I was when I married him. Would I have made the same decision I did back then when I was so young and with little life experience? No I wouldn’t.  There’s only one thing I won’t ever regret that came from the marriage; the children.  We all say that though don’t we?

And as surprising as it may be. I do not even regret the marriage.  Sometimes the paths we choose need to have some negative in them. Every life experience has a fork in the road. And yes sometimes we take the wrong path. However, if we are paying attention when we realize the pathway was wrong; we also notice there are other pathways.

I didn’t realize I was on the wrong pathway while married to Jack. I knew our path wasn’t perfect, but what marriage pathway is? It honestly took me, being away from him to realize; he wasn’t the one for me.

For so many years I thought it was me; because he told me it was.  While most people that know me will say I am shy. I think one of the things they would also say about me is. She does not sit down and be quiet. I would stand up to Jack and voice my opinions, my concerns.  It wasn’t that my concerns and my opinions went unheard. He heard them every time I said them, yelled them or showed them. The problem Jack didn’t care. There was only one person that Jack cared about and that was himself.

In the two years since he has left I have learned a lot since he’s been gone. He would obviously not agree with what I have come up with about the marriage and about the relationship. One of the best things I have done since he has left is TALK. He stated early on in the marriage he didn’t want our personal life talked about when I would go to friends houses. Not that I went out a lot; but now that statement makes me wonder. Why? Then when I started talking about it once he left; I realized why. Men and woman both said to me that how he treated me was wrong. In the beginning I would make excuses for Jack. But I didn’t keep the housecleaned, I was always moody, I was this…I did that. My friends would look at me and say “it doesn’t matter. Why were you doing those things?”

The problem; the fall of our marriage didn’t happen overnight. When Jack left I looked back at 13.5 years of marriage. It honestly started right from the beginning but I was too blind….too in love to see. Jack had to control everything. He was so calculating at it that he would make it sound logical.  And in the beginning it was the simplest of things. He was able to change your mind because in the beginning it made sense to some degree. Of course he made promises.

The biggest example right at the beginning. Our wedding. We had talked about a wedding in June. Then when I became pregnant we had to get married right away even though I said we didn’t have to. His logic was the military would not pay for my care if we were not married. My solution was I go back to Canada. That wasn’t satisfactory to him. He “wanted” me and the baby in North Carolina with him. Then he pointed out the relationship was so new we didn’t need to start a long distance relationship with a child. I wasn’t wanting this huge elaborate wedding. I wanted a wedding dress, our closest friends and a small wedding. Instead because of his logic I sacrificed what I wanted….to make him happy. And also based on the promise from him of when we renewed our vows in 5 years we would have that small wedding.

When it comes to any relationship you will make sacrifices. There is not one person out there that can say they have not made a sacrifice of their own happiness for someone. Whether that be a spouse, a parent/family member, a  best friend.  You will put their happiness over yours.  At what cost? I sacrificed a lot and when he left I honestly can’t tell you who I was more mad at him or me. Him for being such a heartless jerk. Or me for allowing him have that much hold on me. I loved him; Lord knows I loved him. I look back at our marriage and I cringe at what I sacrificed to try to make him happy. They were not material things. My sacrifices  were my family, my friends, my values, my morals, my views, my thoughts, my dreams and even my heritage.  There is no relationship in this world that one should sacrifice any of these.

They say people change as they get older. I do believe this is true. The person I was at 19 is not the person I am at 34. Family has always been important to me; something that really wasn’t of great importance to Jack right from the beginning. Jack and I in the beginning had a “we are better than you attitude” We didn’t need our family. I made myself belief that I didn’t need the people that I left behind. I was better than them; look at me. I have a husband, I have a child. We are doing what we want to do.

I see the turning point for me it took place when I was 28 years old. When my mother died of fourth stage breast cancer in 2006. That’s when reality sunk in. I was 28 years old and as I am packing feverishly because my mother was rushed to the hospital within hours of her first chemo treatment. My husband looks at me and says you have to take the two year old with you. Because I can’t get off of work.  You look at him like he has 3 heads. You can’t call your work and tell them your mother in law has been rushed to the hospital and your wife has to go home? Then you get the it affects more than just “you” by him calling and asking his boss to switch him to days for a couple of weeks while his wife goes home to take care of her dying mother. I was being selfish.  Pardon me I thought it was a county police department that had 200 plus on the payroll; not Jack’s police department of one.

When you sit in that hospital room watching your mother die ever so slowly; you have a lot of time to think. Yes, all the coulda, shoulda, woulda’s come into your thought process. I could have come home more; we could have come home more. In the 9-10 years we had been married at this point “we” had only gone to my home town once, as a family. How many times did we go to his family’s where ever they were? Too many to count. I should have; we could have. We didn’t. Why? Because Jack’s logic was my home was too far. As I am sitting in the hospital room I am counting how many times my mother came to visit us…too many to count. She did it without gripe. And Jack would say it was easier for her to come see us as a single person than it was for “all of us” going to see her. I believed this logic for so long.

When I shared my feelings about this to Jack. He looked at me like I was crazy. He couldn’t understand why I was depressed after mom died. He told me early on I had to get over the death of my mother and move on. “Life goes on even when people die.”

I look back at the time mom was sick and when she died. I didn’t even see it then, but as much as I miss my mom; her death opened my eyes; but not right away.  I honestly didn’t see it until about a few months ago. Jack and I have been separated since June 13, 2010.

You really find out who your friends are and who truly loves you in troubling times. I loved Jack I didn’t want my marriage to end. It’s not that I never told him. Quit putting your family on the back burner; quit putting me on the back burner. He would always turn it around on me. It was always me that had the problem; not him.

Jack ended our marriage June 13, 2010. I remember as if it were yesterday. He was done, he couldn’t do this anymore. I looked at him and said “there’s the door; don’t let it hit you in the ass on the way out.” He looked at me as if I had slapped him in the face and told me he wasn’t expecting that response from me. “What were you expecting? Me to fall at your feet and beg you not to leave because I can’t live without you? If you think that is the kind of woman I am after 13 and a half years of marriage you don’t know me at all.” He left hours later and that’s when I found out the real reason he was leaving. He was having an affair with a female police officer that he worked with.

Just one more thing that confirmed who Jack was and how little he has respect for anyone. He told me he was tired of being the epicenter of the family. “You have to be here Jack to be the epicenter.” I could tell he didn’t like the fact I pointed that out. Again he turned it around on me that I was being yet again selfish and how could I say that he was never here. How could I say he wasn’t a good husband? It was actually pretty damn easy, after all it was the truth. Again he turned it around and said I wasn’t a good wife, mother or person. I was always going to need a man in my life to take care of me. I laughed, “I’m not the one leaving from here and going straight to the girlfriend now am I?”

For many people who have a relationship that ends, there are things that one has to get used to. I realized really quick I didn’t have to because I had lived that way for years. I was used to sleeping in the bed alone. It had been that way for about 12 years now. It had definitely been that way since he joined the police department in 2005 and worked nights for the past 5 years of our marriage. Some people have to get used to other things that the person does around the house, that’s no longer there. For women it might be someone not there to do the yard work; or for husband it’s might be getting used to cooking; whatever the case maybe…..I didn’t have to get used to any of that. There was only one thing that I had to get used to and that was going from dual income to single income. (I will get into this in another blog entry).

His epicenter remark was really falling to pieces in my opinion. It took less than two weeks after he left for me to realize for all he claimed he did, it was me that did it. I live in a dream world though. I was still responsible for the bills, the housework, the yard work, taking kids here and there, groceries, taking care of the kids when they were sick, taking them to the doctor, doing this doing that. I was used to not having the help.  I asked for it; but I never got it from Jack. I didn’t have to learn to be alone; I had all ready been alone.

In the almost two years I have been single…but still married to Jack, while he’s living with his fiancée and her 3 kids :D, I have learned a lot. In the beginning when he left I fought for our marriage. I fought for him. I believed in us. I believed that with work, in time all those wounds of everything that happened, would heal.  I didn’t want a divorce. Despite all the heartache and the hurtful words he said; I still loved Jack. This time last year I was still loving him. I didn’t want to stay married because of our kids. I didn’t want to stay married to him so he would pay for the rest of his life for the wrongs he had done. I told him we could do it. It would take work on both our parts. He looked at me and said “relationships shouldn’t take work they should just come natural.” and the ever famous, “I know me and I would never forgive someone having an affair. If I can’t do it, neither can you.”

As hard as it was; I gave up on Jack. When I gave up on Jack I realized I didn’t want a person like that in my life anymore. Jack is going to do whatever Jack is going to do. As Jack said all those years ago; “I do things to excess. I over do it. When I am done with it; I just walk away.” He was talking about sports and all his hobbies he had; but it applies to his relationships too.

I know now what I will and will not tolerate in any future relationships. At this point in my life; I don’t want a relationship. I am happy with it just being the kids and I.  I am happy being me. I am happy being an independent female. It’s not easy being a single mom. Jack would say I am not a single mom…he’s all ready told me, I am not a single mom. I don’t see anyone else around here doing it.

I can be who I want to be; not what someone else wants me to be; or think I should be. I might be a single mother; but I am far from alone. I have my children whose faces light up every day when I come home from work and not only rush to tell me about their day they ask me “mama how was your day?” I am a mom first and foremost. I have an amazing group of friends. I have made amazing friends from this journey. I have amazing amazing family. Most of all; I still have me, my self respect and my dignity.