I met my wife in 1994. It was the perfect storm – we found each other at just the right time in our lives and everything seemed to fall into place. Our first child, a son, was born less than a year later. We were overwhelmed, ecstatic, and challenged. Everything was new, and I do mean everything! Every day brought a new first for us as a couple and as parents, and we quickly became the old married couple who did nothing on our own. We didn’t have family close by so we put aside our “couple time” and focused on our son.
In 1999, we decided to get married. It was more of a calculated decision than it should have been. It was definitely not the grand romantic gesture that it should have been, but in reality we had already been married for years. Our son was now four. In my mid-thirties, I was content with one child. My wife, six years younger than me, was not. She wanted one more, and with some convincing I agreed. Just one more!
In October of 2000 my twin daughters were born. Right, just one more, it was a good plan. This was going to be a challenge. Everyone, from family to friends to doctors, told us not to worry. They would develop the same habits and things would get easier very quickly. I know now that these were well-meaning lies to keep us from panicking. I changed jobs to be home every night, and we moved to my wife’s hometown in Ohio to be closer to the support structure of friends and family that we would need for this new challenge. I do not regret this decision even one little bit because both of my daughters are smart, beautiful, caring individuals. They are still, to this day, opposites. Our marriage again became completely about parenthood. Our needs as a couple were saved for another day.
As I look back, I’m not sure we were ever perfectly matched. She was very outgoing. She loved being around people and being the center of attention. I, on the other hand, had a tougher time meeting people and socializing. I had moved a lot. I’ve never did a good job of maintaining friendships when they shifted to long-distance mode. My friend, of 23 years, Rob still calls me a “horrible friend” when we talk or text once or twice a year. He’s not wrong, but I still love him like a brother, and he knows it.
So little by little, move by move, I cut myself off from new relationships and lost myself in other interests. When we moved to Michigan, it was almost a relief for me. A fresh start, no one knew me, and I could be invisible. My wife immediately developed friendships in the community, schools, and neighborhood. She started going out with groups of people on a regular basis. Though she would regularly invite me to some of these events, I wouldn’t go. I would use such excuses as, “I have to work early”, or “I won’t know anyone” to get out of going. She seemed perfectly content to go alone. In hindsight, I was deluding myself. She wasn’t happy about going alone. She just didn’t feel strongly enough about it to communicate her feelings.
I’m not sure exactly when it happened but things got bad. We barely spoke to each other unless it was about the kids. Our lives went in completely different directions. I was angry all of the time. This was the moment that our marriage could have been saved, but it wasn’t.