Memories

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My ex-husband has been on my mind a lot lately. Something will happen and I’ll think, “I should text J to tell him about that!” Then I remember that he is dating another woman and has been for the past three and a half years.

I decided to stick it out with Z. There was a major shift in our relationship in early October, and I decided it was in my heart’s best interest to be a little softer. So here we are: I am with Z in the physical but spend a lot of time with J in my mind.

The biggest obstacle is my collection of memories. The negative are softened and the positive are exaggerated with the passage of time. January 7th was the fourth anniversary of our legal split. J is a very different person but I only know this through social media. I’m not sure if his intention was to remain friends or simply to keep tabs on me, but he started following me on Instagram and Twitter (which I don’t use much), and became my Facebook friend (again). He began a vegan lifestyle shortly after we went our separate ways. He grew his hair long – something I had begged him to do for several years. He started taking online classes to get a useful degree (I guess that film degree isn’t as lucrative in the mid-west as he expected). He is a loving and attentive fiance (actually, they might be married by now) and his lady posts pictures of the flowers he gives her. I think of the time toward the end of our marriage when he bought me flowers for actually running a 4 mile charity run, a goal I had for myself after my weight loss. It was a rare occasion for me to receive flowers – I can only remember a handful over our seven and a half years together. He sort of remembered my birthday our 6th year of marriage after forgetting every previous year. I still wonder if I truly loved him or if I wanted to love him like he seemed to love me.

I wrecked my car last month on black ice. It was my first accident after driving for almost 20 years. I bought that car the week before J and I started dating. We would have celebrated 10 years of marriage in 2016. That car was the last connection I had to J, and most likely caused my recent eruption of emotions and longing for the past. I can’t go back in time.

Sometimes the memories are better than the reality. This is my latest affirmation.

When Are You Two Getting Married?

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My ex-husband and I dated for 5 months when we became engaged and were one week shy of dating one year when we married, so our relationship didn’t give anyone time to press us about marriage. The anniversary of my first date with WFB is this coming Sunday and the question is starting to hit us like a tsunami. Every friend and every co-worker has been grilling us like we need to get hitched and do it now! The funniest part is that neither family is pushing us. I haven’t heard a single, “when are you going to get married and start having my grandchildren?” from either side, which is greatly appreciated. I’ve been there once and, though I’m not as scared to do it again as I thought I’d be, I’m just not ready at this moment to have WFB slide a ring on my finger and claim me for the rest of forever.

That said, if he were to drop down on one knee I might be inclined to say ‘yes’ but I’m pretty sure we’re on the same page of “let’s not rock the boat yet.” For that, I love him even more. We’re both a bit selfish and I don’t believe that either one of us is ready to make a life-long commitment. I’m preparing to go back to school to work on my BSN and he has goals and aspirations for the next couple of years as well.

Why do we pressure people into marriage? Working with an older generation helps give me perspective on how things have changed in the world over the past decades. We have older patients who were high school sweethearts and the fellow wanted to take care of his lady and he’s still doing it sixty years later. We have younger patients who come in as married couples, only to have one partner come back the next year having changed her name back to her maiden name, checking the “divorced” box on the form.

I grew up with two working parents. Mom stayed home until we were school aged, then went back into the workforce full time. Both incomes were needed to get by and raise the two of us kids, who were a definite financial burden. We, as women, don’t necessarily feel that burden these days. Some of us are having children later, marrying later and focusing on our careers and establishing ourselves before we dive into serious relationships. Others, like me, marry in our early 20s before we know who we are and what we want in life. Then, when we figure out that we don’t need another person’s monetary support, or their negative attitude, we leave the relationship in search of something more fulfilling.

My parents’ 39th anniversary is next week. They don’t always get along, and they almost divorced twice when I was a teenager. They’ll tell you that they don’t like each other every day, and there are days that they don’t even speak to each other. They’ll also tell you that they love each other so much that they can’t imagine being apart. I actually saw my dad cry (one of two times I’ve witnessed) when my mom threatened to leave. He told me he was devastated and didn’t want to live without her. This is what it is to marry and be monogamous. It’s not always glamorous, but it works for them and it works for a lot of couples.

Then you see couples who are married and have a girlfriend or boyfriend together or they have an “open relationship” and freely discuss together their escapades with other people. These couples seem happy and claim to feel even closer to their partners because they’re able to enjoy a variety of people but still return to their main partner for their basic emotional needs. I don’t understand how jealousy doesn’t wreck these couples, but I’ve never been a part of one and can’t imagine being a part of one. What works for some does not work for all.

For now, I’m content in my monogamous relationship with my sweet fellow. We’ll keep on keeping on until we’re both ready to move in another direction. Whether that’s marriage or something else, only time will tell.

The Engagement

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My ex-husband is engaged. MY EX-HUSBAND IS ENGAGED. I had to write it down before my head exploded.

Damn you, Facebook. My 14 year old niece posted some pictures from Christmas on her Facebook. I miss my in-laws, and flipped through some of the photos. I noticed Jeff wasn’t in any of them, but that’s not too surprising because when we last spoke he said he had lost touch with a lot of his family. Out of curiosity, I looked up his Facebook profile and, BAM! The first thing on the page said “engaged to what’s-her-face on September something-or-other” and there was a picture of the two of them from when they visited Seattle, just days after I had been there.

In September of 2012, we made our final decision to split. That night I was sitting on the front steps of our house, talking on the phone with B. Jeff came outside and said, “I’m sure you’ll be married or at least engaged within a year of our divorce.” I said something shitty, like “I don’t think I’ll make that mistake again.”

He started dating her in June of this year. They were engaged three months later. I found out three months after the engagement. He is 32 and she is… she might be 21 by now. I don’t know when her birthday is. But seriously? Also, how did none of our friends tell me? We aren’t friends on Facebook, but we have 35 mutual friends. How did NO ONE tell me?

I know I shouldn’t care. I am in love with a wonderful man who treats me worlds better than Jeff ever thought of treating me. He loves me. I said “I love you” on Christmas Day, and he made no hesitation saying it back. He gave me a card with my present that made reference to farting, which was hilarious, but inside he wrote the most beautiful note to me. I don’t want to be engaged to him or live with him right now. I love what we have. We understand each other. In almost four months, I’ve given him my stern voice, but we haven’t fought. We’ve opened each other’s worlds to new things and I no longer feel afraid to talk about the future with him. We talked about moving in together in six months when my lease is up, and I’m excited that we have more time to learn about each other before we take that huge step.

My ex-husband is my EX-husband. That means he is no longer mine to worry about. He lives a very different life than the one we had together, and though he was a very big part of my life for seven and a half years, I have to let him go because I also live a very different life than the one we had together. I am much happier and exponentially more vibrant. I laugh more and love more fully and openly because I love myself and understand my needs. My fellow has shown me that it can be better and I love him for it.

Here’s to moving onward and upward in love and positivity.

Love Language

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Last week, my friend and I had an interesting conversation about engagements, proposals and marriage. She and her husband are very different. She is fairly serious and can come off as very intense, but she has a silly side about her if you get under the tough exterior. He is incredibly outgoing and goofy, and he will do anything to make sure his audience is entertained. We discussed their premarital counseling and my lack thereof. She told me that they were required to take a quiz of 30 questions that would tell them how they each expressed their love and expected their partner to reciprocate. She said that she needs Gifts and Acts of Service to feel loved, where he needs Words of Affirmation. I was curious about myself, did some internet searching and found this: http://www.5lovelanguages.com

Most people will have one area where they scored the highest with a close second. My scores made perfect sense: I was tied 9 and 9 for Physical Touch and Quality Time. A close third was Words of Affirmation with 7. Gifts and Acts of Service were very low with scores of 3 and 2 respectively. I always knew I was a touchy-feely person and didn’t need tangible things to feel loved. It makes sense that I need quality time because I’m hurt easily when I’m looking forward to seeing someone and they break our plans.

I spent more time thinking about this affects my current relationship and didn’t give much thought to my past relationships until this afternoon. If my ex-husband and I had taken this test as part of premarital counseling, would we have married? Would we have worked harder to stay married? The two things I rarely received from him were physical touch and quality time. I would reach for his hand or try to sit next to him at functions, but he would often brush my hand aside or get up and move elsewhere. He would avoid my kisses and shrugged away from my constant hugs. Not that he didn’t want to be around me, but he didn’t grow up in a household of huggers and touchers and didn’t understand my need. He also wanted to spend time with his friends on the weekends, when I wanted to spend time one on one with him. He felt that as long as we were together we were having quality time, but I wanted his undivided attention. I wish I had known about this test years ago. I don’t think it would have saved my marriage but it would have helped us/me to understand why I felt constant rejection. However, it’s so easy to say “I wish I would have known,” but it doesn’t keep the past from happening. The only thing I can do is continue to learn, understand, love myself and communicate my needs to my current partner. Now that I’ve found someone who enjoys me as much as I enjoy him, these things seem so easy.