It turned out OK. Different, but OK.
Yesterday was our 22nd wedding anniversary. Previously, I had written that H had made golf plans that eventually didn’t pan out. I expressed my concern about feeling like a second choice but I was reassured that I was, in fact, the first choice. I think H just didn’t know what to do because of the potential awkwardness. I understand that.
H and I made plans to go out last evening but because I’ve been on severe dietary restrictions due to extreme stomach unhappiness, I asked him if we could stay in at my place and I’d cook. He brought the chicken by, picked up our youngest son and delivered him to the oldest for “babysitting”, and then H returned to my apartment. I prepared bacon-wrapped, cheddar stuffed dates as an appetizer while H made a martini for me and a scotch for him. We had playtime 🙂 before dinner, which ended up being at around 9 p.m. I made zucchini fritters (which H helped me prepare), a lovely simple salad and coconut crusted chicken with roasted tomato, spinach and garlic sauce. It was a nice evening. Very low key, lots of chatting [we have a lot of professional respect for each other and our areas of discipline overlap quite a bit]. There were no Godivas (can’t eat them right now – wah!), no flowers or gifts (low key, casual, remember?) and the only mention of the anniversary was by me because I think he was unsure of my comfort level.
The bottom line is that the man really adores me. We both accept we are not the same people who got together nearly 26 years ago and agree that’s a great thing. It means we’ve evolved and learned. However, we both accept that bad habits were built, insensitivities grew, and that the ways in which we treated each other morphed into some very real problems. We don’t know if those problems can be fixed but the hopeful part is that we now relate to each other entirely differently. I had to leave for this to happen. There’s no question in my mind that for both of us to earnest assess ourselves as individuals and make the appropriate changes, we had to be apart. H has accepted that he can’t be the little kid in the back seat saying “Are we there yet?” if we are going to have any shot at making this work. I am relieved. He does not come to my apartment and tell me what I should/shouldn’t be doing and inquire about furniture and things that I bought with the [past] usual of “how much did *that* cost?” because it’s just not appropriate. (He also knows that I have a habit of “rescuing” furniture from the dumpster area and shares my amusement in my finds, sometimes shaking his head and laughing because we are financially well off but we’ve never forgotten where we came from.) H accepts that I am a strong-willed, individual. I was when he met me – which was what he found attractive – and I am reclaiming that part of myself within the scope of our relationship. These things are called boundaries. [I giggle as I write that because in our not-so-distant past, I didn’t know what the hell a boundary was, let alone take steps to establish healthy boundaries – yay! Big win!]
While the logistics of the evening were challenging for him with the running back and forth from the house to my apartment, delivering youngest child there then back to here, it was a very nice evening. For all of his fear of being by himself and the accompanying reluctance to look inward, he’s starting to enjoy being alone with himself. [Hooray!]
The biggest signal that things have changed is that there was a college football game on last evening that he didn’t even mention, let alone ask me to turn on the TV so he could watch it. This was just “us” time and it brings tears to my eyes to point out that lack of obsession with college football – where there had always been one – wasn’t nearly as important to him as spending a nice quiet evening together. OMG, I have waited and waited and waited for that kind of priority shift! Again, I had to be “gone” for it to occur.
Of course we do not know how things will turn out between us but we’ve established the beginnings of a completely different relationship. I don’t know as of yet who I am looking at when I look at him and he probably doesn’t either, but it’s OK. Our kids see me as being far happier and therefore a more engaged parent. They see us interact with love and respect, kissing hello and goodbye, working together to solve logistics problems, and treating each other better than we had in the past. The concept of hope is, and should remain, somewhat undefined.
The point is this: The only happy ending to this story will be one that is free of the paradigms of the past. We have had to let go of our individual conceptualizations of what we think should be to make way for an unknown concept of what we want things to be. Together or apart, we now know that somehow things will be alright. Maybe different, but definitely alright.
- Moving Through A Difficult Anniversary Date (drdeborahserani.blogspot.com)
- Get ahold of yourself woman!! (dharmagoddess.wordpress.com)
- 4 Tips for Setting Healthy Boundaries (psychcentral.com)
- Boundaries (monkeysinmybag.wordpress.com)