Today would have been my 9th wedding anniversary.
Nine years with the wrong man. That's almost too much for me to think about.
When I was 24 I married a man whom I had been with since I was 18 years old. He was a good man. Decent, kind, loving, hardworking, on the surface it was hard to find fault with him. My family loved him. My friends adored him. It was a given that we would get married before he ever placed a diamond on my finger and asked me if I wanted to.
On that night when he slid the box that contained my engagement ring across the table I should have said no. I should have broken it off a long time before. He was completely wrong for me but he convinced me otherwise. At 18 I knew I wanted more than my small town had to offer. I told him that early in our relationship and he agreed. But he lied. He was a simple man who wanted little more than a home in the same small area where he had grown up, a family with at least two kids and a wife who was dutiful and wanted no more than he did. I was not that woman.
There were instances in our lives that should have made me turn on my heels and leave but I chose to ignore them:
He proposed to me when I was 21 but I put off the wedding for 3 years. I always had some excuse as to why I wanted to wait.
Every November he went to Vermont for a long weekend with the male members of his family to hunt deer. I told him if he brought home a deer head to hang on the wall I would put a big red nose on it and tell his young niece that her uncle had shot Rudolph.
He had his gun dealers license and kept an arsenal in our home. I was pro-gun control.
I wanted music, laughter, travel and conversation. He was happy to listen to classic rock, enjoyed fart jokes, thought going to Disney World was the trip of a lifetime, and our conversations consisted of what happened at work. Or how I had slept the night before. And that's it. I'm not exaggerating, that was really it.
Before we were married his father told me, in no uncertain terms, that we needed to have three children, all boys, to carry on the family name. I had made it perfectly clear to my future husband that I wasn't sure I even wanted to have children.
When the subject of children was brought up by me I often mentioned adoption (should have known then that I didn't even want to procreate with the guy). He said that he would never deal with another man's "mistakes".*
I love the Red Sox. He was a Yankees fan.
On the day of our wedding when the reverend asked if there was any reason why we shouldn't be married, I waited for a wiser, stronger person than I to stand up and object to our union. It never happened.
And probably the biggest lightning bolt that should have shocked me back into reality and stopped our wedding instead struck the restaurant where I had been proposed to. A few months before our wedding day the restaurant burned down to the ground. I probably should have seen the big ol' sign that it was.
(Oh, and on the day of our wedding this happened. Yeah.)
I was not a brave girl. Our families were friends, our lives were entwined. Everyone expected me to marry him and I suppose I expected that from myself as well. But soon after our wedding I went into a deep depression. My life was no longer my own since I had given it up to him. Without my permission he changed my last name to his on all our important documents that didn't require my signature and then urged me to change it on the ones that did. I had told him before we were married that I wanted to keep my name. We moved from our apartment in the town I grew up to another one in his home town, two blocks from his parents. I gave up my job prematurely because I was planning on going back to school to update my knowledge of the new technology in my field, but the semester was 3 months away. All of a sudden I was a housewife with a new name, under the thumb of his family. And everyone thought this was wonderful. Except me.
It took me two years and a new job that took me over an hour to commute to and from everyday, but I finally started to find myself again. I made new friends with similar interests. Men and women who didn't think going to Cape Cod was a huge ordeal, who didn't consider restaurants that served chicken chunks and pizza as fine dining. People who enjoyed the theater and travel. I saw a whole new world opening up to me and I wanted a piece of it. I tried to include him but he wanted no part of it. He had no interest in what made me happy.
My marriage was already pretty much over at that point anyway, but nobody knew it but me. When I told my husband I wanted a divorce he was stunned. I guess my sleeping on the couch every night didn't clue him into the fact that I was unhappy. I guess telling him that I was unhappy didn't clue him in either. He convinced me to consider a trial separation and I agreed to it, but ultimately I couldn't do it. I needed to remove myself from that marriage, and like a band-aid that needs to be ripped off quickly I need to end it as soon as possible. Sure, it stung but if we would have drawn it out longer it would have hurt more. I was running for the nearest exit with little more than my heart and my soul.
Over the course of the next 8 months he fought me tooth and nail on everything, from which CDs I could take to how much money I should get out of the settlement. In the end I took much less than I was entitled to. He bought me out of the house we had purchased together just 15 months before, he got most of the furnishings, all of our investments and, hardest of all, our dog. But I was happy to give it all to him, I was tired of fighting. I got my freedom and, best of all, I got me back. Three years after our wedding, almost to the day, our divorce was final. I've never been happier.
I sacrificed a lot during that divorce. I lost friends, my home, my dog (I needed to mention that again, because it was tougher to give up my dog than it was to give up my ex), and my relationship with my family took a hit. But if I would have stayed I probably would have two kids by now (and since I now have a daughter I think there would have been a good chance they would have been girls. My FIL would have been so disappointed, the jackass.), a husband I didn't talk to, and a me I didn't recognize. I would have given up a lot more to keep that from happening. I would have given up everything because I was so tired of giving up myself. I never expected to be a divorced woman by the age of 27 but here I am five years later with a new husband that I love (who respects me, took me to Italy twice, and listens when I talk - most of the time.), a child I would throw myself in front of a bus for, two dogs that bring me as much joy as headaches, and it stands repeating, I have never been happier.
*(quick note: A few years ago my ex-husband remarried. His new wife has three kids from two prior relationships. I often wonder if he thinks of his stepchildren as those men's "mistakes".)
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Today would have been my 9th wedding anniversary.