D-I-V-O-R-C-E: It’s not just a song anymore…

Our musical title is an old Tammy Wynette tune from the 1970’s.  Its one I remember hearing on the radio often…and one that I remember not being very fond of.

But alas it is our theme for this post.

Over 60% of marriges in our country end in the “D” word.  It’s not a club many people care to join, and yet it happens.  I now am a part of that group…and frankly it bugs me a bit.  And since this blog was never meant to be about just boats and motors…but rather about life…my life…I feel compelled to write.

I married in 2001 to a woman I met through a friend.  We hit it off famously!  She was a lot of fun, had a warm personality, and we seemed well suited to be together.  Not long into the relationship…like the second date…we began discussing marriage.  She had a house and I moved in with her…then we married.

Like all brides…she was lovely on that cold October day.  She was stunning.  Our wedding was outside.  The weather was not cooperating, but with some space heaters we had a grand reception.  It was magic.  We honeymooned in southeastern Ohio’s Hocking Hills…and enjoyed relaxing…and just being together.

But time marched on…and life gets in the way.  We had everything thrown at us but the kitchen sink.  Job changes, job losses, moving for jobs, carrying two mortgages…then in 2003-ish…one month after we bought our home…life hit us and hard.

My wife was diagnosed with a major illness…that was life altering.  I remember it so well.  One night I had a dream I was decked out in a suit and being led into a church, for what I though was a wedding.  All the family was there.  Then I saw it.  A casket being wheeled past me.  I dreamed my wife had passed away.  I woke up, gasped some air and began to ball my eyes out.  My wife woke up and pulled me close to her.  I couldn’t tell her what I dreamed.  It scared hell out of me.  Worse yet it turned into a bit of a preminition.  Yes in 2003…when we thought our life was settling down…she was diagnosed with the Big “C”!

How could this be?  Our life was never going to be the same.  She was determined to fight it out and she was quite remarkable?  She was bookish by nature, and thus she went to the “books” and educated herself about every facet of this illness.  I was so amazed.  She would ask doctors questions about treatments that left them scrambling for answers to her questions.  It was amazing.

I found myself depressed and trying to protect her from everything that might harm her.  I could do nothing about the cancer, but let someone talk badly to her, and I was willing to start throwing punches. (Something I’m not prone to doing!)

But as she fought her way thogugh the treatments and chemo and doctors appointments, I tried to accompany her to nearly every one.  I wanted to support her.  In retrospect this may not have been best for us.  I’m sure she felt suffocated, and I was just wearing out working and trying to hold myself together.  She was working as much as she could too.  But the emotional and fiscal strains began taking their toll.  Frankly, had her father not assisted us finacially, we would have been wiped out.  Period.

Finally after many chemo treatments, radiation, and doctors appointments, she was on the road to a full recovery after surgery.  She has some complications, but she is well.

Then as that was winding down, it became appearent the company I was working for was also close to the end.  I jumped ship!  I had another offer and took it.  But I also took a sizable pay cut.  But she had gotten a better paying job, so it was a wash.  But then it happened again…just as we were catching our breath.

Due to the economic bust of 2008, her job was cut from full time to part time and she was forced into a lower paying job.  Not long afterward the company I went to also began to struggle and it was obvious it too would fold its tent after 58 years.  I was out of work…and we were trying to make it on one income.

I tried to find work in my area, but my resume was too much for most jobs, and not enough for what was left.  I was frankly too qualified to work at the jobs that were left after the Great Recession hit.  There were no management jobs in our area.

I tried launching my own business, but my wife and I disagreed on its viability.  She wanted the steady paycheck, I was tired of living and dying by other peoples decisions.  Thus we began to head off in different trajectories.

It happens, but we didn’t like it…neither of us.  It was appearent we were likely not going to make it.  We talked about counciling, she thought about getting a place of her own and trying a separation (Which I viewed as a preamble to the inevitable.), and we just kept trying to work it out.

I continued to try and find work, but the area we were in was not a “hotbed” of jobs!  She felt I wasn’t trying hard enough.  I couldn’t even get a big box to call me after putting in an application!  REALLY?

We grew further and further apart.  I grew more and more depressed.  I knew the marriage was in a bad way…and I felt less and less like a “man” owing to a lack of work.  I stayed busy trying to start my own business, but this became a big rub too.  I guess I should have sat endlessly trying to fill out on-line job apps that take 2 hours for an 8.00/hr job, but frankly I could make more money repairing outboards on the side. (I would add I never took a day of unemployment pay!  It was too much hassle!!)

So we grew apart.  She finished her Masters and went back to work full-time at a job she loved.  I still couldn’t find work I was qualified or not qualified for.  So we kept growing apart.  She began to resent me…and I don’t blame her!

I was more miserable than I’ve ever been in my life!  I couldn’t get a job, my marriage was failing, my wife had lost faith in me, and we were busted…BROKE!  Worse, we were quickly becoming only roommates.  We lived together and nothing more.

Finally she came home from work and announced what we both had been thinking.  It was obviously over.  It stung, but was not unexpected. I had been done for most  of a year frankly.  But the marriage really ended several years before.  Not because of her illness.  Not because of jobs or job losses.  Rather because of the sum of the parts equaling an amazing amount of stress on both of us.

Worse yet, we didn’t not like each other…we just had fallen out of love.

After “the conversation” I really plunged into a deep depression.  I cried a lot.  I started getting rid of “stuff”.  I had lost whatever emotional support I had in the marriage.  My friends and family were all out of town.  Still no job prospects.  And the marriage was over.  I was nearing the end.  I really mean the END of what I could endure.

I sat on the edge of the bed on my birthday in 2013 thinking for a long time.  I was thinking I was just through with everything.  Not mad at anyone, just disillusioned.  I had no where to go, but I didn’t want to stay where I was.  I had no income to speak of.  No support network nearby really.  I sat fondling some pain pills and thought about doing IT!  The big IT!!

IT was becoming more common for males in my age bracket during the Great Recession.  I had never seriously thought about IT.  But I was ready to end the pain, the hurt, the depression.  I was just tired and through.

At my wife’s urging I took a couple of road trips to visit family and friends.  That helped.  I visited the Miller’s who had been teachers at my High School…and we remained close after school.  Ed is a jokester and character.  He was trying to bring my spirits up, but I was so low, I don’t think I heard much of what he said on that visit.  His wife could see I was in pain…and she talked to me.  She held me while I disintegrated in her kitchen, and she showed me love as if I was one of her own.  In many ways I am.  They are wonderful folks who mean an awful lot to me.  But if it hadn’t been for her that day, I may not be here now.

I went home and then another event took place.  Through the wonder of Facebook I was contacted by a woman who had been my first true love.  Her message was transparent enough.  I knew her too well and could tell she too was in trouble with her marriage.  She wrote that she was great and everything was great..which in Facebook-ese means it was over for her too.

We corresponded a bit.  I did so begrudginly.  After all she kicked me to the curb almost 30 years ago.  I still hated her for that!  I was so hurt!  But I understood why she did it.

Meanwhile my wife/roommate bought herself and IKEA bed and moved into another room in the house.  How sad.  How awkward?  I was in limbo like a pile of trash at the curb waiting on the the damned trash truck.  It was miserable.  She sleeping in her room…me in mine…IN OUR BED!

The time came to end it.  She went to see an atttorney to draw up the dissolution papers.  We hung Post-it notes on stuff we wanted.  Yellow for her, blue for me…green for the scrap-pile.  We had friendly arguments about who would be stuck with what.  It was like those two annoying little chipmunks from the Old Warner Brother’s cartoons.  Just irritatingly gracious!

Then came a question I was not prepared for.  She came to me one day and asked “If I let you have the boats, tools in the garage, and your stuff…will you not ask for alimony?”  I’d never even thought about alimony!  I looked up and said “All I want is my clothes and whatever dignity I have left.”  It was true.  I was still in a dark place.  I was prepared to live in a rooming house, and box…or god forbid someone’s basement.  In fact I had offers from the afformentioned Miller’s and a friend from the Antique Outboard group.  But this was my issue…not theirs.

So that was it.  She put all the money in her new” account.  I was to survive however I had to.  “Sell your belongings” was basicallly the message.  I was hurt to say the least.

Look!  I’m no damned angel, but I did see her through a pretty tough time when she was sick  She wanted for nothing.  But evidently she did want something else…and I hadn’t given it to her.  I had failed her.

So now I had to get my shit together and move on.

Meanwhile my old flame and I got together so we could catch up.  We met in a park halfway between our cities.  This was a bad idea!  We were effectively cheating already.  Besides…I was still pissed about being dumped all those yeas ago.  But we did it anyway.

We met…it was warm and a beautiful day.  Yet there was frost coming off me.  I didn’t know what to say really.  What the hell do you say to someone who you were mad about nearly 30 years ago?  Mad at for 30 years…because they dumped you!?!?

Well the frost lifted pretty fast.  She was my first true love.  Nobody forgets their first true love!  I had, with the avent of the internet, looked for her over the years only to know she was okay.  I’d heard some rumors, but none proved to be true.  We walked around the park and reminisced…about the old days.  She told me about her life, her kids, and her parents.  Her father had passed away.  I had no kids…no real story to tell.  Just what I’d done professionally.  Then we began talking about the failing of our marriages.  The shortcomings in ourselves and our spouses.  We found oddly our geographic locations had nearly crossed a time or two, but never criss-crossed.  It was a pleasant visit.  But I also realized fairly quickly I’d never gotten over her.  I still missed her terribly and care deeply for her.  I had to get the hell out of there right now!

I went home feeling I’d broken a Commandment.  I guess I did.  It was quickly going to become an emotional affair if nothing else.  This is a danger!  When you’re not getting something at home, you seek it out.  It is not right in anyway, but it is human nature.

As our married lives were ending, an affair of the heart was reopening.  But we had complications.  From what she had told me I kept coming back to the fact she had three grown children and a husband who by any measure had simply tried to provide for his family.  But in her words…he was never there for her.  I cut her off.  I couldn’t do it to this guy.

But then another flurry of messages would go…and I cut her off again.  I just wanted to end my marriage first.  Then it would be easy to decide what to do.

But life ain’t easy sometimes.  Certainly not with matters of the heart!

So finally we decided to wrap up our marriages and at least move in together and help each other emotionally and finacially.  Of course my moving to her town would mean still no job, but prospects were better there.

So I pulled the trigger.  She got a place, we moved in, we survived as best we could.  My legal wife, and that’s all she was at this point, was staying in the house we shared…until it was sold, forclosed, or sold at shortsale.  She eventually got an apartment and the house sat empty…like so many other homes in the neighborhood.  My sister-in-law had moved to town a few months before our desision and I’m sure this was a calculated move so my “wife” would have someone there for her.  But as I look back, I guess it was more or less…let him fend for himself.  I was the “outsider” by this point.

So I got to my new town and found work within a month.  My legal wife and I stayed friendly for a time.  But I felt no need to broadcast I was “shacking up”.  Frankly after being “cut off” it was none of her damned business.  We talked occassionally about the houses disposition, the belongings I left behind…and general chit chat.  She eventually found out I had moved in with “another woman” and she confronted me when I drove home to retrieve some stuff.  I explained that I hadn’t much choice, and more importantly not much to loose by giving it a try.  She was hurt and no doubt felt betrayed.  But I felt betrayed too.  Where they hell was she when I was down and out.  She sure as hell wasn’t there emotionally.

So it was quiet for a time…if not cool for the most part.

But I wanted to move on.  My job was going well.  My new relationship was going well.  And in February of 2014 the marriage legally was ended.  We finalized the paperwork after the hearing.  We walked to the lobby…murmured some words and both of us held each other for the first time in three years…and we both sobbed.  It was tender, poignant, and sad.  12 years ended with the stroke of a judge’s pen.  I sobbed most of the way home.  Horrible, uncontrollable, howling sobs.  I never wanted to end it.  It should never have gone this way.  What happened!?!  Where did I fail?!  What could I have done differently.  It was just awful!  Terrible.

I got home, and my “companion” consoled me.  I felt guilty and yet I was happy it was over and I could move on.  I was happy in my new life.  But why couldn’t I just enjoy it?  This was maddening!!

But with all things, a grieving process has to take place.  I thought about it a lot, then one day I solved some of my issues by mistake.

While at work I was talking with a truck driver who seemed low.  I inquired if he was okay?  He looked at me and asked “You’re divorced!  Does it ever get easier?”  I responded with “Well…It’s a helluva lot easier if you hate the person you’re divorcing!!”

It was true.  I didn’t hate my new ex-wife.  I just grew apart from her.  I still cared…still do.  I hope she finds whatever it is I couldn’t give her.  Since I obviously don’t know what that is…I can’t help much, but I wish her all the best!

However, I had to move on.

I could only look at all of this as a chance to reinvent myself…ourselves. To do better in this relationship than I’d done in the past.

So things in my new relationship were going very well.  Sure we had to adjust to each other again.  But we fell into a natural groove fairly quickly.  Then I got sick!

Thankfully it was only 2 bacterial infections, 2 virsues, and a bad case of dehydration.  I lost 22 LBS in two weeks.  Was off work for 4 weeks with no pay.  We’re getting back on our feet though.  But during this time, my “companion” took care of me and nearly wore herself out.  I was puking every hour or so, hungry in the middle of the night, needed meds I couldn’t swallow.  We made 4 ER visits, the last after I passed out in the bathroom and hit my head.

After that 4th ER visit as I lay in bed, I said sweetly “Well…Looks like I’ll need a live-in nurse.  Will you marry me?”  She said yes.  We did the next week.

Down to the courthouse. (I could barely walk without being winded!)  Then across the street to a wedding chapel.  15 minutes later…we was hitched!  We went to Taco Bell for our wedding dinner where after a 30 minute wait in the drive thru we got the wrong food.  Then we went off to and Antique Outboard Meet in North Webster, IN where we honeymooned with our friends there who threw us an impromtu wedding reception with cake and champaign.

I was still weak, and the guys launched the boats for me.  I had trouble starting the motors.  Even a 5hp Johnson was a challenge.  But we had fun!

Then the grand finale with the “EX”.  I called to let her know I had a rebate check of some kind.  I wanted to do the right thing since it was in both our names, she would need to sign it and we could split the $$.  As I began to explain the situation…she stopped me in my tracks and asked “Why didn’t you at least call me to tell me you were getting remarried?  Didn’t the last 12 years mean anything to you!?!?  CLICK!!!”

That was it. I hate the rudeness of someone hangin up in my ear!  She knows it.  That was the last time I spoke to her.

The answer is yes…the last 12 years meant a lot to me.  But we ended it.  I have to move on.  The marriage will never be over though…for me.  Yes the house is sold.  I remarried.  But I’ll carry the failure of that marriage to my grave.  It is not something I ever thought I’d be part of.  I never entered the marriage lightly…it was a lifetime commitment to me and to her.  But sometimes life gets in the way.  But yes…that 12 years meant something to me.

As time has passed since that conversation I have reconciled much of what went wrong as two people who fell in love and out of love.  We ended it caring about each other, but not enough to be any more civil than we were during time of the marriage.  The marriage could be rough at times.  But I learned a lot…and for that I’m grateful.

So now I’m back to the girl who was my first true-love.  I tell people its because she likes to recycle.  We laugh…a lot.  We enjoy being together.  We do some of the things we used to do, but by and large we are different people today than we were all those 30 years ago.

At some point I’ll no doubt have a post about what it’s like getting back to someone after 30 years…but I’d leave you with a couple of thoughts on topic…

Marriage is a give n take.

It isn’t something to try on like a pair of jeans…and you can return if you don’t like it.

Don’t have an affair…emotional or otherwise until the marriage has ended!

If you can end it on good terms…do so.  But don’t be surprised if someone gets hurt when the other moves on.

And it really would have been easier if we’d hated each other.

I’m no scrubbed angel in the demise of my marriage to be sure, but I will always view it as a failing on my part.  I would add I am presenting my side of this event.  I would never presume to speak for my ex-wife.  She is a good person…and I wish her happiness forever.  Hopefully as much happiness as I have found.

4 Responses to “D-I-V-O-R-C-E: It’s not just a song anymore…”

  1. 1 Dio
    May 25, 2016 at 12:21 pm

    Courage and humility – to tell a story like that and taking the blame. “Funny” how things turn out in life.

    I revisited the site to simply go over some tips I read regarding restoring outboards being the novice I am. But I got way more than just some tips today.

    Thanks Captain. Good to see you posting again-ish.

  2. 3 J
    August 11, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    hi, just landed here while restoring an old seahorse jw-10-3-hp sea horse and i dont know you but you have sage advice. stay positive captn life can be a machine for better or worse.

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