The fifth in a series of posts on the beginning of the end of my marriage, and a look back at our relationship, from meeting, dating, engagement, and the in-laws (that could be an entire blog in itself, but that’s a story for another day…!).
So, in recapping the beginning of the end of my marriage, I’ve had some moments of clarity about the good and the bad about my marriage. Call it hindsight, call it learnings, call it healing…but there was some good, some bad, and some in-between moments in my marriage that I suppose you could call signs that the foundation for our marriage and relationship was 1) clearly rooted in friendship and b) had some deeper issues than maybe I saw at the time.
So, here are some of the bad (and please, when I say bad, this is probably nothing near “bad” in true bad marriage terms, but for me, these are signs I see, looking back, that nudged at the longevity of my marriage):
My in-laws never accepted me. My ex-husband is Lebanese. His parents moved here before he was born and made a life here for their family (and contrary to what many tend to believe when someone says “Lebanese” or any Middle Eastern nation, he is Catholic) and Pete was born here (so he’s an American citizen by birth, and his parents received citizenship after moving here). Needless to say, their culture is very much a part of their beliefs – that their children should marry partners of Lebanese decent. So, from the beginning, there was hesitation that he date an American woman (their belief – stereotypically so – is that American women latch on to men, take their money, make them sleep on the couch, and then divorce them – nice uphill battle, no?), and they were always very cool towards me, closed off, and hard to approach.
Complicating things further, I only saw them every month or few months, as they lived two states away, so it wasn’t as though I had a lot of opportunities to break that exterior. They “blamed” me for taking Pete away from them (since he moved here a year after we started dating), they were always pushing him to move back home, and they just plain didn’t like me. Finally, the summer before our break-up, his mom told me she loved me, and I finally – finally – felt accepted – almost TEN years later. Yet, once Pete told them he had decided to move out and was ending our marriage, they immediately told him they never liked me, they were glad we were divorcing, and were extremely suspicious that I was going to try and “take” everything from Pete – the house, money, belongings etc. It was shocking to me, at the time, and I firmly believe that their reaction to his ending our marriage sealed the deal…had they pushed him to try and make it work, I think he would have. And, if you are almost 30 and your parents can influence your decision that much…well, enough said.
To this day, they don’t know that we have such a good friendship. Pete had to keep it secret that we talked often, that our divorce was as open between us other communication-wise possible, and that, well, we were getting along great. They wanted him to hate me and sever all ties, but he didn’t, and for that, he’s redeemed himself (if he had, in fact, let his parents feelings towards me influence his decision to divorce me)
My ex never taught me Lebanese. We’d been together almost 10 years and I barely knew any Lebanese…the language his family spoke fluently, almost all the time whenever I’d visit. I think they took it as an insult that I didn’t know their native language, yet, Pete never took the time to share it with me, beyond a few words (and several of those being curse words!). To me, being in a relationship, and a marriage for that amount of time should mean sharing everything – especially culture and language! It never really occurred to me that it could have been an issue in our marriage – or to my in-laws – at the time, but in looking back, I think it was pretty huge. Maybe it’s just me, but I think it signified, underlying, that this wasn’t going to last…subtly at least.
My engagement was anti-climactic. It occurred to me that I got engaged almost four years ago – February 11, 2006. Why doesn’t that date stand out more? Because my engagement was anti-climactic…and please, I hope this doesn’t come across as surface or superficial, but there wasn’t a lot of thought put behind it. He came home from picking up the ring (he went with my sister and brother in law) and sort of just gave it to me and said, “will you engage me?” (it was supposed to be a cute little joke between us, because he would always say that for some reason – not will you marry me, but will you engage me..odd quirk perhaps) and that was that. I was happy, but at the same time, I was a little dissapointed that he didn’t put more thought into how he was going to do it. I don’t need a lot of super fancy things…elaborate dinners, 2 dozen roses and chocolates, but just in terms of how it was presented – just pretty plain and simple. No oomph. Just okay, we’re engaged. That’s cool.
I actually was talking to Pete yesterday and mentioned the date and he didn’t even remember it! He was surprised it had been four years, and he even said – before I mentioned it – that he “didn’t really think about it, he just did it” when he asked me. He said he “didn’t want to do anything crazy” – but I guess that was the state of our relationship – just one step after another…you move in together, you get engaged, and then you get married. Formulaic…stale…just there.
While these aren’t “bad” in terms of truly the bad…for which I am extremely grateful (no abuse, no cheating, etc) – for me, they were things that are foundation issues with our marriage, in my opinion. I WANTED to be close to my in-laws, I WANTED to learn the language I heard so often, and I WANTED to feel the sense of truly, madly, deeply love that I think I deserve (I use that song because in the early days of our relationship, that was “our” song, and now, looking back, we weren’t truly, madly, or deeply in love with each other…we did “just” love each other, and Pete made the right decision to end our marriage, I firmly believe that).
What do you think? Are these foundation issues for you, too, or just nice-to-haves? Maybe I am overthinking, but for me, these are signs that maybe we weren’t meant to be “forever” and there were some issues that weren’t easily changed…things that I don’t want in a future relationship, and things I’m sure I’m going to be more sensitive to “sensing” in the future…whereever that prince charming may be lurking 😉