My ex did some pretty shite things in the dying days of our marriage.
But, as time passes, my awareness of the role I played in the demise of our relationship grows.
It takes two to tango and – in most cases – two to end the dance.
I neglected my marriage in its final years.
I stopped caring about my husband’s needs.
We socialised separately and struggled to find anything to talk about on our occasional “date nights.”
I’d withdrawn physically and emotionally from him. After the kids went to bed, I’d hide in the study, tapping away at the computer, while he watched television alone.
Each night, he resented me that little bit more.
I don’t know if recognising it earlier would have saved us.
During those awful months between when my husband first announced he wanted to leave and finally did, when we were in (brief, ineffective) marriage counselling, I didn’t really grasp how much was at stake.
I was filled with righteous indignation and expected an apology from him without offering one in return.
I couldn’t see that I’d failed him too.
When he tried to explain how difficult and exhausting he’d found my behaviour I was outraged.
How dare he make it about him when I’d been through so much!
I’d come close to breaking point after skirting around PND twice, battling a debilitating enzyme deficiency and surviving an ugly workplace situation.
Around the same time, our daughter developed extreme phobias and terrible eczema.
The strain it put on our family was huge, but all I saw was my own suffering.
Our marriage limped along while I waited for the grovelling that never came.
We went on one last, strained family holiday, where every day was filled with awkward, eggshell moments.
I think the final straw (for my husband) came on our final night away, when I heard the news my six chickens had been killed by a fox.
I was hysterical. I loved those chooks – the thought of them dying in terror and agony gutted me.
Trying and failing to comfort me was probably the moment my ex decided he couldn’t take it any more. He’d had enough of my dramas and being pushed to one side.
Two weeks later he told me he was leaving.
I was in denial. I didn’t think he’d have the guts to walk away from being a “family”. I was convinced he’d realise he’d made a terrible mistake. But he was done.
After six weeks of self pity, I asked him if we could go back to marriage counselling. I promised I’d try harder the second time around, instead of expecting him to do all the work.
But he told me the door was closed on our marriage and could never open again.
I’d nurtured a fantasy that we’d spend a year separated and rediscover what we’d once loved about each other. He didn’t share that fantasy. He’d chosen a different one.
As the months passed, I began to realise our marriage was probably too broken for counselling to save it.
And part of the blame for that lay with me.
It wasn’t a comfortable realisation, but a valuable one.
While I don’t forgive my husband for giving up on me and our marriage, I understand why he did.
And hopefully I – and he – won’t make the same mistakes again.
Song of the day: Split Enz “That was my mistake”