Guest post by Richard Crane
My take on the joys of winning every vote, 1-0.
Everyone saw it coming.
After more than 30 years of marriage, my wife pulled the plug. Just up and left without notice. At least that’s the way I saw it.
When I talked to my grown children about it, they both responded the same way.
“We’re surprised you and mom lasted as long as you did.”
Damn. That hurt.
All marriages have rough spots. I just figured we were going through our share of them. That we’d work it out. We’d rekindle what we had after our youngest went off to college.
Boy, was I wrong.
In fact, my wife left me three weeks into my daughter’s freshman year. She waited until our youngest was away at college. So there would be no witnesses. Just me. And her. And only one of us would be calling the shots.
No chance for counseling. No chance to reconcile. Just a one-hour notice and a big fat “buh-bye.”
It was soul-crushing in every sense.
Did I make some mistakes along the way?
But every spouse does. If you think you never do, then you’re so far detached from reality, you should really stop reading this now. You have far bigger problems in your life if you can’t accept that all marriages are partnerships and you’re both responsible for what happens.
Did I cheat on her?
Not with another woman. But I made some really stupid financial mistakes and I didn’t tell her about them. So, in that regard, yeah, I probably cheated. But there’s an explanation…a rationalization that I won’t go into here. The bottom line is, in hindsight, this is the biggest part of where I fucked up. Although it turns out she hid money from me, so money issues were a problem on both sides.
Did I stop loving her?
I’ve thought about this a lot. In reality, I don’t think I stopped loving her, but the way I loved her most definitely evolved over time.
After 30 years, the passion fades. Life grows complicated. Your needs change. Your spouse’s needs change. Priorities can quickly get reshuffled. Life would be boring if they did not.
You aren’t the same people you were when you got married all those years ago. You aren’t supposed to be the same people either. That’s what growth is all about.
What nobody tells you is that often times, growth can also mean growing apart.
And before you know it, you’re still married. But you’re also alone.
Then, one of three things takes place.
You keep the status quo. You endure. Your marriage game and the rules stay the same. Because change is hard. Staying the same is uncomfortable, but in many ways, it’s easier, too.
Or, you fix your marriage. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of effort. It takes cooperation. But if you’re successful, it’s so worth it if you can find a mutually happy place again.
And then, there’s what happened to me. Your marriage dies a painful and messed up death. Apparently by inches over time if you’re paying attention. Much like giving birth to a child, you’re giving birth to a divorce. One day you’re together and the next day, you’re not.
But enough with the doom and gloom… I want to let you know there are some good things that came out of my wife leaving. I call these the silver linings of divorce.
Silver Lining of Divorce
Perhaps the best of these is that I’m undefeated in voting on how I want to live my life since my wife left me.
What do I mean?
I now win every decision on a 1-0 vote.
Thai food for lunch? Heck yeah (she hated Thai food).
Watch something on Netflix with a high body count instead of a high hankie count? Make my evening a “Platoon” and “Saving Private Ryan” double-header please.
Don’t wanna put the toilet lid down before flushing, or let the dishes sit until morning? I am so down for that.
Go to my favorite Irish pub on Friday night? Gaze (discreetly, of course) at yoga pants moms in the grocery store? Let the laundry pile up until the hamper overflows?
Check, check, and double-check.
Getting a divorce sucks. Even when you want one. Even if there’s a sense of relief afterward.
So, you have to take your victories where you can get them.
Do I like going undefeated in 1-0 votes since my wife left?
Oh hell, yeah!
Would I rather still be in a happy marriage?
Yeah, even more so…
But that’s not gonna happen.
So instead, I can take a vote to watch football all day Saturday and Sunday if I want. I win.
I can vote to have breakfast for dinner without fear of being called weird or irresponsible. I win again.
I can vote to go to Hawaii on vacation instead of traveling cross country to see relatives I never really liked anyway. I win big on that one.
My friends, especially the ones who are still married with young kids, and who also have lots of people with votes in their lives, envy me at times.
It’s by design if I’m being honest. I crow about it when I get the chance. After all, there is a certain joy in the simplicity of winning every damn 1-0 vote, every damn time.
But secretly, I envy them more.
The great irony in all this is that the person who taught me about the joys of the 1-0 vote is the same person who left me. Even though it was my marriage too, I didn’t get a vote. No chance for redemption. No chance to kiss and make up.
She took a 1-0 vote, and I’m the one who lost.
As far as relationships go, that was the last time I lost a 1-0 vote in my life.
The interesting thing is, that if given a say now, I would never go back.
I voted on that one a long time ago.
And as my new life goes forward, it’s turning out to be one of the easiest 1-0 votes I’ll ever make.