real life

'I asked my husband for a divorce. But he refuses to let me go.'

If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.

I’m not a go-with-the-flow kind of gal. I plan, I ruminate, and I make sure all the “i”s are dotted before I go forth with any plan.

I anticipated waiting until the end of 2020 to tell my husband that I was done with the marriage. No point in saying anything sooner when we’re all trapped in the same house courtesy of virtual schooling and coronavirus, right?

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I threw a bomb on that plan when I broke the news months earlier, in August. 

I tried to convince him we could raise the kids in a Parenting Marriage which allows us to stay in the house, our children have access to us, and our finances remain stable. He could bone whoever he wanted, win-win right?

Wrong.

Since attempting to break up, I’m continuously surprised at the unfolding of life events.

My husband cries almost daily and wants to stay together.

Why… why? Why would anyone want to beg daily for months to stay with someone who doesn’t want to be with them?

I figured my husband would be pissy for a while and then eventually sober up. It’s been months and he’s still a fragile mess. I tried everything to make him feel better and explain how this is better for all of us.

When he bawled, I bawled. I wanted to take away his hurt. This was my doing; I should be suffering from angst.

Two months later and now I’m almost indifferent to his crying. I know that makes me a complete b***h. It seems my sympathy and pats on the back with a “there, there, it’ll be alright” have a limit.

Our divorce counsellor this week told me all I can do is say, “I know, this is really rough right now”, and leave it at that.

My kids sensed our misery after the divorce bombshell.

Conventional wisdom says kids pick up on their parents’ unhappiness. They sense the tension. In our case, my kids were happy in their bubble of our world revolving around them without ever knowing the discord between their parents.

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We argued in front of them at most once a year. There was no physical violence. They preferred us to not go on date nights or express romantic behaviours.

After I told my husband I no longer loved him romantically, that’s when they picked up on the change in our dynamic. They saw my husband crying out of the blue. They heard us bickering and having tense conversations which ceased when they walked in the room.

“What are you guys talking about?” they ask, unwilling to accept any “oh it’s just boring grownup talk” answers. My kids sit on the bed and stare at us, interested in hearing the rest of our emotional conversation.

When things get bad, my son (who is autistic and highly sensitive to change) breaks down and cries. He doesn’t want us to divorce, despite that we don’t even use the D-word in our talks.

My son immediately thinks all arguments lead to parents breaking up, which is an indicator of how infrequently we’ve ever fought in front of him. Fighting isn’t the norm in our house.

So now we have to work extra hard to keep our s**t together when the kids are awake. I didn’t realise how difficult it would be hiding the breakup before we’ve formalised a new living arrangement.

He won’t go for an amicable divorce or ‘Parenting Marriage’.

I knew asking my husband for a ‘Parenting Marriage’ was a stretch. We adore our children and given their additional needs, I assumed my husband would bend over backward with me to make this as painless as possible for them.

That means demonstrating a united front on remaining civil and respectful with each other.

The most important factor in parenting success isn’t a piece of paper. It’s how the parents treat each other and their kids. My husband disagrees.

He’s struggling with the idea of us being amicable after a breakup.

At one point he announced that he absolutely will not be pleasant with me after we split up. I told him that he can be as s***ty as he wants to me behind closed doors. However, when the kids are around, he can suck it up for their sake and behave like a f**king adult and show respect for me the way I will with him. 

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I said, “You want to be an a**hole to me in front of them? Do you know how many years of therapy they’ll need as adults?”

I didn’t think that I would have to convince my husband that treating his kids’ mother with kindness and politeness mattered to their psychological wellbeing.

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He insists on no dating for years.

I didn’t tell my husband our relationship was over while walking out the door on a first date. 

Naively, I thought maybe it would take the duration of this pandemic before he’d be okay with us dating. So like…spring 2021.

Upon suggesting this, my husband flipped his s**t. “You want to go out and start dating before my body is even cold?” he yelled.

“Well you’re not dying,” I replied. “But I figure things will settle down by next spring.” That didn’t go over well at all.

I’ve since dropped the subject of dating, however, he brings it up. 

He views it as a distraction and that I won’t focus on the kids if I’m out dating. 

Aside from that I’m not a boy-crazy teenager, he doesn’t realise how distracting it was to be miserable in marriage and secretly cry over it daily for years.

My kids aren’t toddlers and don’t need constant attention every hour. 

I’ve realised that he isn’t accepting of letting them learn independence. A 10-year-old doesn’t need their father to be their playmate for hours every single day. They don’t need me to hover and constantly be all up in their nuts.

My husband has the trump card in the end; if I’m giving attention to anyone else, then it’s not in the kids’ best interest.

I’m annoyed with my husband, even when he’s pleasant.

A few days ago, my husband had a great 1:1 session with our divorce counsellor. The incessant crying has dropped significantly (knock on wood). And yet, I can’t stand to be around him.

Initially, I put in solid effort to show we can all get along and still do family activities minus us being romantic partners. That’s what we did anyway for years.

When he’s not bawling, it allows me to acknowledge my feelings at the moment. 

I’m realising I’m a better parent when he isn’t around. I’m not competing to be the Fun Parent. 

I’m not having to deal with him and I can focus purely on the kids. I’m in control and I don’t have to make sure that I’m worrying about his needs.

I can’t say any of this to him because that takes away from us being a platonic parenting couple. 

Yet the more this drags on, the more I think I would much rather raise the kids on my own on my time and he can raise them on his own when it’s his turn.

Having my husband around makes me a worse parent.

Our finances are going to hell before we‘ve even split up.

Divorce is a strain on finances, right? Not a surprise.

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I spent over a year trying to plan our finances for post-divorce life. Murphy’s Law decided other plans before I even moved out.

I pushed my husband into getting hair replacement surgery in hope that it’ll boost his confidence for dating (since part of his daily crying is that he’ll be single forever). It’s double the cost I originally anticipated.

He wallowed over his inability to date if he’s driving a s****y “dad car” so I told him he’s welcome to buy himself a more suitable “cool dad” car. I’m buying my way out of this marriage.

Then we discovered termites and are now getting quotes to get our house tented and fumigated. There goes a few more thousand dollars.

Our property tax bill came in and I decided instead of paying it split between 2020 and 2021, we should pay it all in the 2020 tax year to avoid messiness when filing for the 2021 tax year if we’re finally divorced.

A divorce counsellor isn’t covered under my insurance. We’re only three sessions in and I’ve already had to forego future purchases to afford them. 

This week I noticed my Pandemic Weight Loss went overboard and both of my breast implants are wonky. 

It seems they have no fat to hold on to. In the absence of $20k to redo them, I’m shovelling food down my throat in hope that gaining 7kgs will magically make them look good again. 

The last thing I need is to be single and have boobs that look like a drunk, blind surgeon put them in.

As it stands, my Divorce Financial Plan is to pay my husband to stop crying, find a dozen side hustles, and eat vats of butter.

All divorce negativity is on me to suffer.

Marriage is a partnership. Ending a marriage is not. All things painful in this breakup are on me to suffer.

It’s on me to sleep in the spare bedroom. It’s on me to move out. It’s on me to spend less time with the kids. It’s on me to never date for years.

I thought since I didn’t blame him for the demise of our marriage and framed it as “we collectively took down our marriage” that we would together share the burden of the discomfort. 

I was wrong. The one who wants to end the marriage is the one who wears the shackles.

I didn’t discover until after I asked to end this marriage that there is a punishment for those who ask.

I feel more trapped than before.

I cracked and said I wanted to end this relationship in August because the walls built up around me, preventing me from breathing.

With the homeschooling and financial constraints confining me to the same house (along with my attempt to keep the kids in the same house as both of us), I feel like I’m in a new prison of my own creation.

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Everything I do is scrutinised. Everywhere I go is questioned. When I wear makeup before heading to the store, is it because I’m trying to impress male Target shoppers while 99 per cent of my face is covered in a mask?

I want to start a new life but instead, I’m twiddling my thumbs in my bedroom waiting for my husband to approve the end of our marriage. I feel trapped.

My self-esteem has skyrocketed.

Despite the upheaval of life since asking to end the romantic part of our marriage, my self-esteem is climbing up.

Becoming my authentic self (why do I feel like Oprah gets a kickback every time that term is used?) has removed the veil of lies surrounding my person. 

After decades of my husband not seeing me as a sexual creature, I look in the mirror and confidently think that at least someone else will find me sexy and attractive. 

I’m excited to wear cute outfits without feeling like I’ll get a snarky or awkward comment.

There is a freedom that comes with knowing I don’t need to tiptoe or fake who I am anymore. 

Whoever I meet gets me as-is. I’m sarcastic. I’m not politically correct. I’ll call someone out on their bullsh*t. I can take what I can dish; I can handle teasing the same way I dole it out. 

There is no longer a fear of sexual rejection or competition with girls in porn half my age. There is an excitement brewing in me to adore and lavish attention on someone who accepts me the way I am.

Alternatively, I don’t fear being alone. Hanging out by myself is my idea of a fantastic Saturday night instead of catering to my husband’s needs.

My tears these days stem from heartbreak and concern for my children. I no longer bawl over my poor self-image, self-loathing, and disgust in myself. Since last August, that weight is finally off my shoulders.

Every day is unknown. 

I’m planning as best I can for the end of my marriage while blindfolded. My divorce counsellor and books guide me while I mentally sing Elsa’s “Into the Unknown” (sadly no new hairstyle, white dress, or water horse accompanies a divorce).

Resilience and grit are the weapons of survival after telling your spouse you want out of your marriage. 

They’re all I have as new, unplanned events occur with this life change.

This post first appeared on Medium and has been republished with full permission. Find more from Jennifer M. Wilson here. 

Feature Image: Getty.