Today marks the 6 year anniversary of me having met a person I’ve been looking for for a very long time. One of those people that stay in your heart forever. I met the woman that eventually became my wife.
We have had an amazing journey since then. My wife had a little 7 year old daughter when we first met. I was accepting her as part of my future life from day one. I was realistic about the uphill battle this would be for me. They had a very strong bond and we fought over mommy’s attention countless times. We had many challenging years. Today I am happy to say that she really feels like my own daughter and me becoming a father to her was one of the profound experiences in my life. Thanks to her, my thoughts on family planning came to an end.
Getting married to the “right” woman was one of the big dreams in my life. We were a dream couple to everyone that met us.
We did what couples are supposed to do. We built a typical family life: We bought a house, we purchased “things” together, we worked countless hours to make our home a cozy place. We alienated quite some friends that didn’t fit our new lifestyle any longer. Eventually we decided to relocate to a place where we knew not a single person besides our realtor.
We built our life from scratch again. We purchased another home and went through the same procedure of turning it into a place we enjoyed living in.
We ended up playing the roles husband and wife are supposed to play with each other in the public eye. We did this without anyone putting pressure on us but ourselves.
The story could end here and you have just read one of the most boring blog posts ever created.
But then there is a little more to the story.
Four years ago my wife decided to pursue her dream and study spiritual and depth psychology. I knew this was a turning point in her life. I also knew that minds become altered in the growth process any dedicated student in this field would go through. I knew this could eventually affect our relationship. Still, I was fully supportive of her choice. It was just something my wife simply had to do.
We have had many conversations about our dreams in life during our marriage. But the conversations never went the whole nine yards because they would have eventually led to questioning everything we created together. Without talking about it directly we both quietly decided to play it safe because it appeared that so much was at stake.
We were facing a choice but were too afraid to take a close look at it. Neither one of us had the guts to draw a t-bar and list the benefits vs. the disadvantages of our life. We constantly looked at the benefits and cheered each other on. But how about going to the dark place of acknowledging the fundamental needs in your life, taking inventory and question everything we don’t even dare to think of? How about the shortcomings of living a life where passion dies a little more and routine takes over?
Going there felt like climbing down a dark stairway without knowing where the end is. I honestly didn’t even know about my needs any longer until I really let myself go to this place. Very quickly I began to see things I chose to bury deep in some hidden closets of my memory.
Something pretty amazing happened over the last couple of months. We woke up – sort of like Robert de Niro in Lorenzo’s Oil – and realized the state we were in with our life. We looked each other in the eyes and were able to tell the truth, based on the trust and respect we have for each other.
It turned out that we were on the same page when it came to analyzing our marriage and what we really want from life. Living in the tight framework of a traditional marriage felt rather constricting to both of us. We both learned about the sacrifices we made in order to keep our relationship together and the weight this put on us.
Coming to terms with the fact that I would not spend the rest of my life being married to the same woman was very painful at first. After all I was getting married with the intention to never get divorced.
While I was trying to heal, I reached out to some friends. Many of the conversations were rather disappointing to me. I realized how much traditional thinking about marriage and breakups is ingrained in most of our brains. I did get a lot of advice on how to protect myself and on how to avoid getting “screwed”. Some others simply tried to support me by taking sides. But that’s not what I needed. I needed friends that would trust my partner and I would get through this process in peace and harmony.
Very few people will understand that my wife and I trust each other enough that we can untangle our life without any of the nasty fighting that comes with so many divorces. It took us about 2 hours and one subsequent conversations to settle the financial aspects of our breakup. It wasn’t really that hard. We both support each other on our paths and want each other to do well. Harming each other would mean losing our integrity. That would be a very high price to pay. It would also make healing much much harder. I kept this in mind through the entire process of our separation.
So what is this all about? It is about desire, passion to life, peace, heading for the unknown, not being afraid of change, letting go in order to hold on to something new.
I am losing my wife but I am gaining a friend that I finally can love unconditionally.
Today I am in touch with my inner self. I listen to my needs and notice when and how they shift.
I am not afraid to think out of the box when it comes to relationships:
Why are we unhappy in any relationship?
Doesn’t a lot of that have to do with things not being as they are supposed to be in the eyes of others?
Why do we freak out as soon as something out of the ordinary happens?
Why do we always think in terms of losing something and hardly ever in terms of gaining?
We decided that the best way to co-parent is to stay in the same house. Fortunately it is big enough to allow for separate spaces for all of us. This makes our common area much more valuable. This is the place we choose to visit and spend time together. It feels like the sun is always shining in this area because it is filled with plenty of laughter and compassion for each other.
This is not a sacrifice but rather a commitment I am happy to make. I get a lot back in return. My future relationship partner will have to deal with this situation for the time to come.
As a little side effect this is actually a good test of how differentiated and confident this person feels.
The process of unwinding our marriage has been very painful. But it has also led to many of the most truthful and mindful conversations I’ve ever had. After 6 years of coexisting and having many happy and fulfilled moments, we really got to know each other. Somehow the pain and the suffering was necessary to uncover everything that was buried deep inside ourselves.
Going forward I know that this is how I want to live my life.
I want to look others in the eyes and go really deep. Have you ever maintained eye contact with anyone else for over 30 seconds. I encourage you to do so. You’ll see amazing things.
It also feels great to be totally honest – that’s how we started and that’s were we have been in last few weeks. In between we deviated from that path because too much was at stake.
Six amazing years are coming to an end. Today feels like a transition – not a loss. It is simply a matter of letting go in order to grow and to move on to new horizons.
At age 43 I finally feel like a man. I am looking forward to every day of the rest of my life.
With her permission here is also the version of our story from my soon to be ex-wife, future great friend & mother to my step-daughter. She is a great writer and it would be wrong to withhold these beautiful words of hers:
Today marks a very significant day in my life. Six years ago, I had my first date with the man who later became my husband. I remember walking into the restaurant in Manhattan Beach, nervous and excited, full of hope and expectations. Sitting through dinner, listening to this man pour out his heart and soul, and was amazed at his courage. For so many years, I had been afraid of being vulnerable and let someone in to my heart. I felt broken, damaged and beyond repair.
I fell in love with this wonderful man who taught me how to trust. Not only others, but my self. Throughout the years, we supported each other as we took on new ventures. Together, we have moved across country, made and lost money, raised a wonderful daughter (and two dogs) and have survived family and medical crises. We’ve traveled, danced, laughed and cried together. We have shared 6 amazing years that have helped shape me into the person I am today.
Today, we are at a point in our marriage, requiring heartfelt honesty and authenticity. We have become aware that we both want more for ourselves than complacency, an incorporated relationship, and ‘good enough’. Some of our friends and family member may think we are insane to walk away from what may look perfect to the outside world. Society tells us that marriage is forever, mediocrity is expected, passion over rated. Yet we have never been conventional, so why begin now?
As we have become conscious of the end of our marriage, we face many challenges. How do we move forward, through the pain and challenges of ending a relationship, with integrity and grace? How do we process our own ‘stuff’ without dumping it on each other, and protect our daughter through out this phase? How do we co-parent and co-exist, without losing our boundaries? How do we mediate the tension of the opposites, without falling into resentment and blame?
We don’t have most of the answers to the above, but we have learned to communicate from our hearts. Each day, I surrender more to what I know to be true in my heart. Each day, I trust in my own intuition and inner guidance. At the end of the day, all that matters is that I can look at myself in the mirror and know that I did the best I could for that day.
I no longer feel damaged or broken. My marriage has shown me that I am strong, yet vulnerable; I am a free spirit, but committed. That I love myself, but can wholeheartedly love another with my being. I no longer question or doubt who I am and what I know.
March 30th, 2003, I began the process of inner healing. March 30th, 2009, I welcome the miracle of new beginnings.
In case you were touched by this post:
The last thing I’d want is for you to break up with your spouse and blame it on me. This is my path – not yours! There are plenty of ways to live an authentic life within a marriage. It just wasn’t the path for us.