Wedding anniversaries tend to make me incredibly sad. Why? Because I have a terrible marriage. Another anniversary means that one more year has been wasted with someone I shouldn’t be with. We are both miserable so my revelations in this blog post are not news to anybody. I know he feels the same way. I’ve written about this before and nothing has changed since the last post except maybe there’s less arguing. There’s less fighting because neither one of us cares anymore. It’s not worth the spike in blood pressure to yell at someone who will never change his/her mind about whatever is the topic du jour.
Many people have asked me why I haven’t left. I hang in there for so many reasons but the biggest reasons are my children. My mom left my dad when I was six and my sister was a newborn. I swore I’d never do that to my kids. I don’t blame my mom for leaving–it was the smartest thing for her to do given that my dad was an alcoholic and he abused her physically and emotionally, but our lives were made 4 million percent more difficult because of the divorce.
First, we were so poor. My dad didn’t pay much in alimony or child support so we suffered. My mom’s job as a nurse didn’t pay well back then. My sister and I had to go live at my grandparent’s when things got really bad. Did he care? I never asked myself that question before but I’m sure he had some guilt surrounding the knowledge that he put his anger toward my mother above his duty to provide for his children. I recall a time when he gave me $500 cash when he dropped me off at the mall for back to school shopping. Little did I know at the time, $500 was five month’s worth of child support for two kids. Mind you, this was the 80’s so $500 was a lot. $100 per month for two kids was not. I think he assuaged his guilt through cash. My sister and I lived like queens during the summer and paupers the rest of the year.
Second, my sister and I had to fly to Michigan to spend every summer with our dad. He didn’t really want us there, he just wanted to win the custody battle in court. He didn’t want us in Michigan cramping his style but he also didn’t want my mom to have us. Needless to say, we spent a lot of our dad weeks with our aunts, uncles, and cousins.
In hindsight, it was best for my sister and me that we were with relatively stable families with kids our own age, but it didn’t help us with building relationships in our own neighborhood back in Pennsylvania. I never realized I was missing out on deepening friendships over the summer with my school friends. You know those lazy days of summer where you get to go out for a slice of pizza with your pals, have weeknight sleepovers where you learn of your best friend’s crush, camping out in someone’s backyard in a tent, getting sunburned at endless pool parties, and playing games in the streets. I never got to do any of that due to court order. As a result, my childhood relationships weren’t as strong as others.
I missed so much in my early childhood because of my parent’s divorce. I didn’t want my children victims of my poor choice in a partner. My goal was to end the cycle of traumatic childhoods. I decided early on that the adult solution was to stay in my marriage in order to provide stability for my children. Little did I know that was also a choice with unintended consequences. A marriage isn’t safe and stable if both parents are modeling a relationship void of love, caring, and mutual respect. We were a textbook case of what not to do.
This year’s anniversary is the big 2-5. Yes, 25 years is a long time to be unhappy. Were we ever happy? I’m pretty sure we were at the beginning but I can’t really remember that far back. I recall a day when I packed a bag to leave my husband. I remember which house we were in and how the sun was shining during all my misery. Using my limited math skills, I can guess the bag packing incident was about 23 years ago, so trouble started early. Maybe there always was trouble.
What will our anniversary look like on the big day? Will there be a big celebration with our friends and family? Will there be cake, balloons, champagne, and many toasts to the happy couple? No. We will spend the day ignoring each other. I will probably cry off and on. Am I crying over being ignored? No, I will be crying over my lack of courage to leave, and the frustration over having to do the right thing when all I want to be is happy. I will be crying over the lost beauty of youth. I will lament that I spent my wrinkle-free years with someone who thinks I’m not attractive. I will be crying over spending all this time with someone who hates me so much and he shows me this daily.
I’m a good person with a good heart who treats everyone better than herself and my love has been wasted on someone who would be happier with a robot. He could switch her power on when he needs cooking, cleaning, childcare, and laundry done, and turn her off when he wants to watch TV, play video games, and drink beers.
Tis not the ‘big day’ yet but it is looming over me like a giant black cloud. I’m starting to think of my upcoming anniversary almost daily now. I wish the day had already come and gone at this point so I could think about other things. My anniversary is in early June, so a little more than another month of mental torture.
I won’t buy any gift for my husband and I know he won’t get me anything either. We haven’t exchanged gifts in years. We won’t even give each other a card. But, really, what would a card say for a couple who barely tolerates one another? “Thanks for not killing me this year??” I’ve often thought of starting a card company for people who aren’t quite happy with their partners. Would it be successful? Sadly, I think it would.
On the bright side, I am grateful I don’t have to stress over finding the perfect gift to commemorate such an imperfect union.