I remember what it felt like to snap. That moment where you’re done with reasoning and excuses. The line is drawn and you step across it, knowing there’s no way back. The line where betrayal and pain main any future look brighter than your current experience. It went something like this:
It had been a long day, too long. Micah*, my husband, was already home like he always was, but I knew better than to assume dinner had even been thought of. I knew he would be home because the part-time “internship” he worked at usually had him home by early afternoon and he was always reading or video gaming when I walked through the door.
Oh, the “internship.” Two graduate degrees and he was interning at a start-up that couldn’t afford to pay him more than a flat rate that just covered his student loan payments. There was the promise of “it could become successful” and he would hopefully be rewarded for his efforts, but that was a big if in the current economy.
I knew work was hard to find; all of his law school friends were unemployed save one. Two years in a Masters program and three years of law school with zero real world experience made finding work awfully difficult. I regretted our agreement. Back in college when we were dating freshman year and engaged before our junior year, we both knew we wanted grad school. We had decided that, since I was undecided, he would go while I worked and then we’d switch.
Yeah, right. I upheld my end of the deal. I’d found full-time employment two months after graduation. In five years I’d worked my way up through several promotions and made something of myself. I’d also decided what I wanted to do for a real career and had been waiting for my chance. He, on other hand, hated his first grad program and proceeded with law school, only to declare his final year he didn’t want to be a lawyer.
When graduation day came, his parents and my parents were there to congratulate him. Micah didn’t even thank me. No acknowledgement of the years I’d delayed for him, the hours I’d worked, the life I’d made possible. I’d asked very little of him during those five years. He didn’t clean except on special occasions. He rarely cooked. I ran all the errands and handled all the bills. He never worked, even during summer breaks when all he did was watch TV and play video games.
But once grad school was over, there were no job prospects. The “internship” was enough to pay that bill, but what about the rest of our bills? Where was my “break” where I could go to school or take a real vacation that didn’t include his parents? It vanished.
I tried, I really did. I asked my mentor and one of the best managers I’d had to dinner to talk with him about finding his passion and how to interview. One of my friends who worked in recruiting in HR interviewed him and coached him for 3 hours plus two pages of typed notes on his resume and ways to approach employers about how his school experience could benefit a real life job.
And then he did nothing. No job searching, not even any review of the information that had been handed to him. What would cost others hundreds he just tossed aside. I sent him a variety of jobs I’d found, trying to figure out what he wanted or, at the least, could handle. Each was met with reasons why he didn’t find it appropriate or beneath his level of education.
I walked into the door from my long day of work. It was only a Monday. He had made a promise to me yesterday he would job search today after he neglected it all weekend. I had cried several times over the past few weeks over the stress of my job and stress of keeping up with bills and terror we would never stop this endless cycle of debt. Surely he would have some better news for me today.
As I expected he was playing video games. I was a game geek myself and addicted, but I never let my job or our financial future hang in the balance on a game. I was responsible for a lot. He barely noticed me walk in the door. I set my stuff down and asked about his day. He hadn’t gone to work; his back was hurting so he’d stay home to use the heating pad on it.
“So, did you look for jobs today?”
“No, my back hurt. If I could have gone to work I would have looked at jobs.”
Snap. There it was. That last string. I walked out of the room, fuming.
So, he can’t work and can’t online job search, but he can play video games for hours? After he promised? What I felt was hot ice filling up the core of my body. I felt almost disembodied from the moment. I can’t believe this is happening. But it was. Six years of marriage and I’m still the only adult here. Six years of my life gone. To nothing.
I had to do this very carefully. I went into the bedroom and quietly packed my smallest suitcase. My mind was a whirl of items I would need to survive several days without every coming back to our apartment. Pillow. Cell phone charger. Brush. Toothepaste. Work clothes. PJs. Underwear. Oh! I almost forgot socks… Everything else I needed was in the office, with him.
I walked in, quiet, not looking at him. I turned on my computer, like I normally would as if I were about to play video games myself. Instead, I booked a hotel room using the reward points I’d been saving for a trip to Europe – we had enough for a full week’s stay free. Too late, now they would keep me away from him. I booked the hotel. Cleared browser history. OK. He didn’t have the login info and the confirmations went to my email, which he didn’t know the password to. Check. It was time to go.
I left the room to retrieve my laptop bag, steadied myself, and then went back into the office and packed as fast as I could. Laptop. Charger. Pens. Done.
“What are you doing?” Crap!
“I’m packing my bags.” Oh no… my voice cracked and tears sprung to my eyes. What I had dreaded for years was about to happen.
“What do you mean, packing a bag? Where are you going?” He noticed my emotional climate. He knew something was terribly wrong.
I couldn’t hold back anymore. I erupted into angry sobs. “I’m leaving you!” And I turned and dashed out of the room. My suitcase and purse were already in the entryway, waiting for me. It was time to go.
“Wait… What? No, wait… Why? WHY are you doing this?” He was full of panic.
“Because….” in sobs, “because! You made a choice today. You can’t work and you can’t job search, but you can play video games for hours?”
I waited. “Well… its different… I mean, no, wait, don’t go! STOP PLEASE.”
He had grabbed my suitcase. There was no way he could stop me now. “DON’T MICAH. Don’t you DARE hold me back. I’m staying somewhere local but I’m not telling you where. Don’t you DARE follow me. Don’t come and find me.” I marched down the stairs, heaving my suitcase, laptop, and purse, barely seeing through the stream of tears going down my face.
He called after me, and watched me march out to my car, pack my bags, and drive away. It was the hardest thing I’d ever done.
I made sure he didn’t follow me. I could barely see the road so one hand swept tears away as the other drove the car. When I checked into the hotel, the clerk asked me if I was OK. I was, I said. But I’d just left my husband. And then I broke down. The expression on his face was awful, but I knew it could not compare to the pain I felt at this moment.
Six years of marriage. Nine altogether. My whole life from age 17 to 26 had been entirely his and it had all been a waste.
When I got to my room I let the tears just fall and the loud sobs and screams of anguish racked through me. When I could talk I called my parents to tell them what had happened. They were shocked, but surprisingly supportful. For months I had been telling them of my complete despair over his lack of action and complete disinterest in changing.
I logged into my video game to tell my favorite kinmate why I wouldn’t be gaming much this week. He was disappointed and very concerned and I told him the entire story. He wasn’t so surprised, he’d heard my frustrations for months in private chat. He supported me and wanted to be there for me. It was a small comfort. Aside from my parents, it was the only friend I told.
Nothing was final. I’d booked the hotel through Friday, but was clueless what would happen next. We had no family nearby. My greatest hope was that, if things stayed the same or grew worse, a co-worker would open her home to me.
Two days passed and I contacted him to let him know I was OK and still local and had no idea what to do. He asked if we could talk and I agreed to meet him in the parking lot of the hotel. He wanted me back and wanted me to stay. Nothing would be fixed if I didn’t come back, he argued. He now understood how important it was that he do something else. In the back of my mind, I remember slight shock at this remark and thinking: It took THIS to make you realize that?
Then again, my voice had fallen on his deaf ears a lot it seemed. It had started with him getting the wedding he and his family wanted and me going along with it as a nice gesture to him. I thought it was a waste of money – and when the day came and I realized it was probably a mistake to get married at 20 one month after college graduation, all I could think was the expense of cancelling it and maybe I just…. owed us and our families for all the trouble to see if it could work.
And then on our wedding night, we were both disappointed. We were both virgins (yes, REALLY), and although we’d done all sorts of kissing and licking, he’d never penetrated me, even with a finger. We rushed into sex, two virgins desperate to find out what the “big deal” was. My words as soon as it was over (about a minute later) were, “It kinda hurt” and “That’s it?” I pushed for it twice more that night, hoping that it would get better. Nope. It hurt less each time, but it wasn’t that much fun. He could have cared less. We had sex once more on our 10 day honeymoon.
From there we had sex maybe once a week. I found that, instead of being the normally cuddly person I am, I didn’t want him to touch me, which was hard in a queen sized bed. We upgraded to a king as soon as we could, and I introduced the “middle” pillow which effectively blocked him from ever touching me. We had sex once a week for about a year, then it dwindled to once a month when I couldn’t stand my level of hornyness. I’d gone from masturbating daily as a single woman to orgasming once a month and hating every minute of it.
At year three, I’d come to terms with the fact that I was not attracted to him and probably never had been. We’d never flirted and every attempt he made grossed me out and turned me off so much. I couldn’t even bring myself to try; it was too funny and awkward and not in a sexy or good way!
I told him at year 3.5 I wasn’t attracted to him. I had to – sex was infrequent and I was having sex dreams about other men and past romantic interests. I was unable to turn my eye from other men and women in public and porn – neither of which he approved of, of course. He wasn’t sure what to do about it, and less than six months later he would brag after sex how attractive he was to me (obviously!) and how happy that made him. I never corrected him; it seemed cruel and it would expose the fact I was just using him.
He didn’t approve of a lot in sex. I’d tried to introduce toys and very light kink like restraints into our sex life, hoping it would spice it up to give us both the urge and enjoyment. He turned everything away in disgust and fear. I wasn’t allowed to buy a vibrator that was bigger than his average penis for fear it would stretch me out too much and decrease his enjoyment.
He hated the way I tasted. He wouldn’t perform oral sex unless I had just showerd and he could constantly wipe me out with a wet washcloth and then after a couple of minutes he would be unable to continue due to the gross taste. This was, perhaps, the most hurtful and painful aspect of our marriage. To be rejected on such an intimate level was… numbing. I kept telling myself I could live without it.
But I couldn’t. In reality I wanted to enjoy sex, have kink, be able to flirt, be able to embrace my bisexuality and enjoy a woman. I wanted a partner who respected my views.
When he asked me to come back with promises to work on things, I said I needed to think about it. The next day he came over and asked us to start couples counseling to try and work on these problems WE had. He didn’t want to lose me.
Counseling. For two years during our marriage I’d gone to counseling for myself. I had no backbone and was completely codependent on whoever I saw as the authority figure. It used to be my parents; now it was him. I had no individual opinion or voice. I assumed a problem was my fault in some way, so it was my responsibility. Counseling helped me change that, ever so slowly. It took years but I came out of it with this blossoming that, ironically, Micah said he loved about me. I was still me, but with my own voice in this world.
A voice that was done tolerating a “partner” who was really a grown child expecting the easy life, it seemed. Marriage counseling was not a place I really wanted to go. I’d researched attraction and everything I saw was about reconnecting what had been there — but there had been nothing there. No flirting, no romance. Nada.
As his parents and my parents would later argue, how could you be together so long if that were the case? I was seventeen when we started dating. We’d started dating from peer pressure. We hung out enough that everyone thought we were dating, so we’d agreed to see if they were right. We had actual fun together and grew very close, even into best friends.
But best friends do not necessarily make lovers, as I had found out. And forcing yourself to see a lover when you had no interest in one being there was completely backwards and crazy.
I knew I had a choice. But I also wanted to live at home. Hotel living was terrible and left very few lounging and food choices, so I agreed to counseling and went home on Friday.
Over the weekend life continued as it always had. I had private chats with my kinmate, who was encouraging me to divorce. A lot of good points were made, I had to admit. And now that I had seen a taste of freedom and given myself time to think and reflect, it sounded very good.
My kinmate was unashamedly flirting with me in private chat. This wasn’t very new or surprising; during voice chat, which came out over my computer speakers, he hit on me and flirted with me constantly. Micah had heard it for months and it didn’t bother him; nor did it bother him when I flirted back. That was weird and backwards, but it felt so good to flirt again! And now this private chat was going very naughty… and I didn’t stop.
On Sunday night, the kinmate asked to see my picture. I had been driving him crazy for months and all this flirting was making him go crazy. I facebook messaged him. He wrote back that I was a very beautiful woman and he was falling very hard for me.
The kinmate told me Monday night he thought he was in love with me.
On Tuesday, I asked for my divorce. It was easier than leaving Micah the first time. I was more like a cold stone, resolute in my decision now. It was done. I would be free.
Less than four weeks later and a few days before our seven year anniversary, Micah moved out. It took a while since he had no job, barely any money, and no family nearby. We lived together, uncomfortably, those few weeks, avoiding each other. We divided up our belongings and money very fairly. We didn’t have a single argument. I went to six counseling sessions with him to help him get closure and understand what was happening. The counselor was set on reconciliation and gave him false hope that, if we promised not to file for a couple months, we might rethink things. I said no constantly to this and filed six weeks later. He was devastated I didn’t wait the full eight weeks I had apparently promised to.
In counseling, and several times a week, I explained my history of attraction, self discovery, and the reality of how he was a best friend to me – but not a lover. I pointed out our mutual history and, with apologies, the brutal truth of how much I was disappointed by and hated our sex life. His touch literally repulsed me. He held constant that, with time and counseling, that could change.
All I could think was, Why would I put myself through that? After all this time?
I couldn’t. I was done giving, trying, hoping, waiting. When I had known three years prior that I wasn’t attracted to him, I cried almost every day in private, knowing it was going to end at some point. I’d given myself years to come to terms with this. By the time I’d said divorce, it was done. I didn’t need to heal very much at all.
What hurt the worse was seeing the toll it took on Micah. I had been his first everything. EVERYTHING. I had hidden my feelings from him and let time go by without telling the truth. He may not have been ideal, but I had been completely cruel in my communication and honesty with him about how things really were. I had faked years of being a loving wife. Of course I’d loved him, but not as a wife would.
To this day, I miss him. Nine years is a long time to spend with someone and an almost daily basis. We had so many happy memories. In everything but romance and intimacy we were completely compatible. He had been my closest friend and confidant, my biggest supporter for so many things. When he left a small part of me felt like, and feels like, its permanently broken and damaged. We had killed something beautiful.
Both sets of parents were against the divorce. His family quit talking to me; I couldn’t blame them. I found out months later they used mutual friends on facebook to spy on me and report back to Micah on my life. He asked them not to, and them asked me to block them when they wouldn’t listen. My parents went from somewhat supportive to completely against my decision. I gave them the PG details of everything that was wrong; they refused to believe it could be as bad as I painted it.
Our divorce was relatively quick and painless. Sixty-one days after I filed, the papers were signed and it was over. No lawyers were needed. Even after all the hurt and anger, we still managed to be decent to each other.
The kinmate, if you hadn’t guess, is now my BF. He and I met in-person two weeks after Micah moved out. To most the timing is surprising. It seems too fast, too much of a rebound.
Was I cheating on Micah with the BF? Perhaps. But Micah knew about the kinmate who flirted, listened to it happen, and even asked if I was going to date him after he moved out. I told him the truth: yes, I wanted to do that and probably would. Technically no papers were signed and nothing was official; but paperwork does not have to reflect real life to make something authentic.
I do know this: I never want to experience anything like that again.
*Name changed, of course.