The good, the bad, and the ugly

After talking to Kirsty, our counsellor, alone, I went for another walk.
The world felt heavy as I left the house. I had questions I need to answer.
By the time I returned a couple of hours later, the world felt considerably lighter. Perhaps lighter than it had in a very long time. 10yrs even. It is difficult to know why. And even now, when I think back, it’s difficult to justify the explanation that I have somehow attached to the feeling.

Divorce has potential to be a good option.
(If We were to divorce.)

The rest of the day felt lighter. The weight of home and My marriage and family was still significant, but it felt more manageable.

That afternoon, I created a new account on OK Cupid. Unlike the previous couple of occasions I have had an account*, it felt legitimate. Of course, at this stage, I have no intention of saying to my Wife that I have such an account, but as I went through the quiz questions, there felt to be a purpose. An honesty. And not a hint of guilt. If divorce is the way forward, I think I’m OK with that, and I’m certainly OK with the idea of dating. I’m confident it would actually be fun, and as shameless as it may be, I might actually get laid.

By the next morning, the bubble had burst.

It was cold and bright outside as I drank my morning tea. My Wife opened the kitchen door to say She was down for breakfast. Pleasantries were exchanged.
Her: Enjoying the morning sun?
Me: Not really. It’s impossible for me not to think about one thing.
Fuck it. Nothing to loose.

I told Her about Kirsty’s questions.
What would it look like in 6 months if We a) stayed together and b) divorced?
What do We want from a relationship? And then can we get it from this one?

I told Her how I was coming to realise that divorce was not a bad outcome.
She re-emphasised that, if it does come to that, She would do Her best that the marriage was dissolved on equitable terms. (Though I honestly don’t believe She has thought that through thoroughly.)
Interestingly She commented that a greyness had lifted form Me the previous day

I related much of what I had been thinking about in the previous 24hrs, including whether the bad stuff had got worse over time, or whether the evaporation of what was good had just left a greater percentage of bad stuff, with nothing to compensate, and whether that made the same bad stuff less manageable.

She asked what was the good stuff that has gone?
Whether it was just the act of being asked, or the specific question, or indeed My answer, is impossible to say, but it pretty much reduced Me to tears. (And at 8:30am I helped myself to a glass of wine.)
I had to steel myself to answer, and issue caveats, and requests not to be judged.

For the first time, I was able to say that the good stuff that had gone was Sex.

She wasn’t surprised.
I said it wasn’t that sex was the only thing, and that it was no less important than trust or equality or so many other pillars that support the temple ceiling. But take just one away, and it all crumbles.
Sex has not been there for years, and without it, the temple is derelict.
And sex isn’t just sex. It’s both a barometer for a relationship, and glue.
Of course sex isn’t the only problem. There are other fundamentals that desperately need addressing, but for me, sex is easy to identify, and is more binary: there are sliding scales when it comes to other difficulties, but sex … well … We have none … haven’t had an easy sexual relationship ever … and for Me, a sexless relationship, however good in other ways, is not enough.

And She understood that, and accepted it.

We went on to have a reasonably constructive conversation about talking about sex.
We didn’t talk about sex.
But we did talk about talking about sex.
And we agreed that I would email Kirsty to let her know that, as a place to break the viscous circle of [problem A] needs to be solved before we can solve [problem B] needs to be solved before we can solve [problem C] needs to be solved before we can solve [problem A].
One thing that was conspicuous was Her suggestion that, whilst there are no guarantees we can regain a sex life at all, or one that was as good as We had had, or maybe even better … and that hint of maybe even better was fascinating. I really have no idea what She thinks would constitute better and it may well fall short of what I have come to consider enough. That discussion, however, is for another time.

As we ran out of things to say, She asked Me to think about something before We next spoke with Kirsty:
We have been sleeping separately for 2½yrs, but even before that I would curl up at the edge of Our bed to avoid contact with Her. What would it take for that to not happen?
It was a good question, and I happily said I’d reflect on it.
I wondered, as She was asking Me to think about something, what She might be reflecting on in the meantime?
She gave an answer. Trust and something else. But it came so fast, and was, as far as I could see, so closed that it felt like answering What would it take … rather than What would She reflect on? So I tried to re-frame the question. She bit back, at speed, and with venom. There was anger in Her voice and rage in Her eyes. She demanded I look Her in the eyes. I told Her her reaction was unjustified and unfair. She turned that back on Me. And I tried to end the conversation, but She kept going. I never give Her the opportunity to speak. I go off on one and just keep going and I never let Her into the conversation. Bullshit! She knows well that I have a slow, precise method of articulating my thought in these sort of discussions, and until things aren’t going Her way She has been explicitly happy to accommodate that. And that had not happened in this situation.
I walked away.

5min later I went to apologise to Her.
I didn’t feel that I had done anything wrong. Rather there had just been a communication problem. I didn’t deserve he onslaught that followed. But I can be the bigger person. I can apologise for the sake of a better outcome.
And that outcome may well be divorce.

Only minutes after that, there was a big argument between my Wife and the youngest in the house.
That evening the same conflict recurred. There were audible bad tempers upstairs and heated debate about laundry not being put away.
When my Wife came downstairs I asked after the respective parties. She followed with …
Her: How are you doing?
Me: Somewhere between utterly shit and absolutely fine.
Her: Absolutely fine gives me hope.
I resisted the urge to say it shouldn’t. Utterly shit referred to having to live in a house with such consistent conflict. Absolutely fine was because I am coming to terms with divorce being a realistic, and positive outcome.

*When I have previously registered on OKC, it has never been with the intention of actually having dates. It was part familiarisation with swipe culture, and part just a bit of fun. I’m aware that could be regarded as disingenuous. However, some people go to bars to watch, some go in search of one night stands, and others are hunting a spouse, so my conscience is only mildly pricked.

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