One of my facebook friends posted this article on his page yesterday. We’re not close, we graduated high school together, didn’t speak much then and certainly haven’t spoken since. He appears to be divorced with a son about 8 or 9 from the pictures. The article, part of the New York Times’ “Modern Love,” series (which I’m not familiar with) tells the story of a couple — maybe in their 50s, who have been together for 20 years and have a young children:
“I don’t love you anymore. I’m not sure I ever did.”
His words came at me like a speeding fist, like a sucker punch, yet somehow in that moment I was able to duck. And once I recovered and composed myself, I managed to say, “I don’t buy it.” Because I didn’t.
He drew back in surprise. Apparently he’d expected me to burst into tears, to rage at him, to threaten him with a custody battle. Or beg him to change his mind.
So he turned mean. “I don’t like what you’ve become.”
Gut-wrenching pause. How could he say such a thing? That’s when I really wanted to fight. To rage. To cry. But I didn’t.
Instead, a shroud of calm enveloped me, and I repeated those words: “I don’t buy it.”
You see, I’d recently committed to a non-negotiable understanding with myself. I’d committed to “The End of Suffering.” I’d finally managed to exile the voices in my head that told me my personal happiness was only as good as my outward success, rooted in things that were often outside my control. I’d seen the insanity of that equation and decided to take responsibility for my own happiness. And I mean all of it.
My husband hadn’t yet come to this understanding with himself. He had enjoyed many years of hard work, and its rewards had supported our family of four all along. But his new endeavor hadn’t been going so well, and his ability to be the breadwinner was in rapid decline. He’d been miserable about this, felt useless, was losing himself emotionally and letting himself go physically. And now he wanted out of our marriage; to be done with our family.
But I wasn’t buying it.
I said: “It’s not age-appropriate to expect children to be concerned with their parents’ happiness. Not unless you want to create co-dependents who’ll spend their lives in bad relationships and therapy. There are times in every relationship when the parties involved need a break. What can we do to give you the distance you need, without hurting the family?”
The guy who posted this on his page, shared the article saying “this woman is so brave.” Now, see, when I read the story I immediately thought of a dozen adjectives to describe this chick (delusional, crazy, dumb, sad…), brave did not come up. Not even briefly.
I can’t imagine where you are in life to have someone that you love and trust, basically spit in your face and you wipe it away with the back of your hand and ask what they want for dinner. Now, I’m not even saying I would rage or scream or throw things, cause I wouldn’t, but you best believe I would buy it. Right away, no questions asked.
I mean, HONESTLY.
A man doesn’t say such things without putting serious thought into it for a long time! Hell, I believe that shit when it’s not even said – when it’s just actions suggesting it — ignored texts, unreturned phone calls, disappearing acts — fuck that shit, I’m out, son!
I suppose marriage and children and the like should be taken more seriously, but DAMN. Dude, said he wanted OUT! What if this were the story about a woman who said the same thing and her husband was all “Nope. I don’t buy it.” I saw that movie, and got damn if I wasn’t clapping when Tina Turner finally got her divorce.
If this is “modern love,” I’ll be over here on my couch watching Revenge, thank you very much.