In an instant—everything changed.
I was vacuuming.
And this day was one of those days when I was throwing myself into martyrdom. Sunday morning. Day off work and he was relaxing. Reading the weekend newspapers, all spread out on the floor where I needed to vacuum. I looked at him and it dawned on me. He was miserable. His shoulders rounded when they once stood square. His brilliant blue eyes had lost that sparkle. Worry was etched in the lines on his face. An unshakable feeling down to the very last cell in my body told me there was something wrong. VERY wrong. I had no idea, at that moment, that my life would change forever. Or even more shockingly, just how much it would change.
It was the Summer of 2010 and we had been in Canada for just over a year. We had been to hell and back over the last 3 years. Bankruptcy. Death Threats. Loss of our home. Therein lie tales for another day. But we had come through it on the other side. Or so I had thought. We had moved to a new country with new opportunities. A fresh start. Yet we were unhappy.
I stopped the vacuum and the words came tumbling out of my mouth: “We have to figure this out. If we don’t, we will be headed to the divorce court.” He looked up, tears in his eyes, and my husband of almost 19 years made his announcement: “That’s what I’ve been wanting to tell you. I don’t love you anymore. I want to separate, a divorce. I want the chance to find somebody who will love me more.”
Admittedly, the conversation was a little more convoluted, hyphenated with emotional outbursts and attempts at rational reasoning and comprehension. But that was the gist of it all.
Over the next couple of weeks, my world slowly fell apart. Our marriage was ripping apart at the seams. Everything I thought we had created together became so fragile. I was fragile. Vulnerable. Exposed. Rejected. Abandoned. But my husband did not escape unscathed. He rode that emotional roller coaster by my side. He was disengaged, confused, and irrational. I wondered if this was that mid-life crisis people refer to. Maybe it will pass. Hell, go out and buy that flash car! Have a holiday! Do whatever other guys do when they hit their mid 40s! I mean, some men go out and have an affair. Right? But my man would never do that. And we always promised we would NEVER do that. Never! We had always agreed that was the one thing neither of us could ever forgive.
I recall writing to him and telling him how I had to accept responsibility for his feeling this way, for not showing him how much I really did love him, how important he was. How I accepted responsibility. Yes. It was my fault. It had to be! I told him I understood how I had driven him to this moment. How I had driven him away, just as I had driven everybody else away. All of them. All those previous relationships. Even my parents and my sister. There had to be something fundamentally wrong with me and I promised to start counselling and sort myself out once and for all. I could FIX this.
Racked with guilt, my beloved confessed all and we finally got to the root of the matter. He had had that mid-life crisis! Not now, no. Some 3 years previously. Back in 2007, the year we both turned 40 when we lived back in Spain. I had had no clue. Absolutely NO clue! How could I have been so blind? So stupid? Why had I missed the signs?
Because I trusted. That was why. Implicitly, totally and completely. Trust had been the foundation of our marriage. We had always agreed that without trust, we had nothing. He told me that the reason for his current crisis was that he was feeling the same way now as he had done then. He was worried he might be unfaithful, again.
I look back on those weeks with amazement at myself. Somebody, something, somewhere, was guiding me to do the right thing. Despite this latest revelation, I am forever grateful that we made a right decision. We agreed to end our marriage but not our relationship. We agreed to change our relationship but continue to be the amazing parents we are to our son. Most importantly, we agreed that if we were to do this, we had to be happier. Long before Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin made it fashionable in 2014, we created conscious uncoupling.