Maybe I put too much pressure on my wife to be everything to me.
Maybe it takes a crowd of people to equal one of her.
The other night, a friend told me she hated my breakup, but was enjoying all the time we got to spend together. I couldn’t agree more. I always enjoyed my friends’ company, but a solid marriage leads to the creation of a bubble. You on the inside, the rest of the world outside. It’s hard not to let smugness taint that bubble. I’ve been humbled by heartbreak. When Leonard Cohen sang that it was the cracks which let the light inside, tears rolled down my face in the dark. I was thinking of my heart, and thinking of my friends.
When I tell people my sixteen-year marriage just ended, some react with skepticism, condescension, or admiration. The skeptic wonders if I’m having them on; “When did you get married, junior high?” I must spend a lot of time in low light; I look young for some thirty-seven-year olds, but not that young. We met at nineteen, okay? Yes, the relationship lasted sixteen years.
Condescension usually comes from acquaintances ten and fifteen years older, folks jaded by the many crumbled marriages they’ve seen (on the plus side, these people also have the best advice). Some in Camp Condescension think the break-up won’t take. Others dismiss it with, “You’re young; you’ll bounce back.”
One, I loved without doubt. Maybe it’s cold the way that turned, but I broke without doubt as well. Not that it wasn’t – and doesn’t continue to be – the most difficult decision I’ve ever made, but I know myself. The wrong would creep back in, of course, but that’s secondary. Beneath the cosmetic fix of getting back together, my hurt and anger would erode our souls. Second, well . . . maybe I am young enough to bounce back. But the bounce is more a measure of personality than age. Some people just adapt better than others.
Folks my age and younger react with admiration. These people loved us together. We were the couple to emulate. Sixteen years is unfathomable to them as a span of time with one person, let alone for all we’d been through.
Today I realized sixteen years is nothing when you expected a lifetime.