When M. first talked to me about the problems with our marriage, my first reaction was to say I was sorry. I thought he was right and everything was my fault that I had been insufficient, imperfect and unsatisfactory. It was so hard for me to talk to him and tell him my complains, to stand up for myself. So I took advantage of our time difference to write him a letter. I opened my heart in the way I thought was safe to do with my husband and my forever life partner. This was before he cheated, and before he walked away on me. But I knew that he was confused, I could feel him pulling further and further away from me.
He read my letter and told me that I was right, and that he was willing to work, that he didn’t want to see our marriage fall apart. He gave me empty promises and comfort. I thought we had this. We only needed time, he only needed to be willing. We were smart and caring people who loved each other, there was no way that we couldn’t fight against this. If anyone could overcome a rough patch, it was us. I promised him that I would do everything within my power to save our marriage, and I did. I did everything I could, I swallowed my pride, I gave him all of my commitment. I was kind and generous and patient, and yet I still saw him walk away.
One month after this letter we were separated, two months later and we were done. It is now three months later and we are basically strangers.
I wrote this later before I knew the signs of emotional abuse, and yet reading it, it is all one big red flag. Why was I so blind to what M. was doing to me? Why did I feel that it was my responsibility to beg and plead?
I want to go back in time and take away all the power I gave him by writing him this. Instead I throw it to the wind and declare them meaningless words, so you might as well read them.
Note: My commentary is in brackets, and names and places were left blank.
July 2nd, 2015.
I know we talked today for over two hours, and I have no intentions of winding you up again. [I hate how apologetic I sound here, yes we were having tough conversations, but I was not winding him up, and it was not my responsibility to shield him from real life] I want this letter to serve as a tangible record of my commitment to improving our marriage. You have claimed that I lack optimism; indeed, I do lack some of the hopeful naiveté than I used to have, but I don’t consider myself a pessimist. [M. just expected that during my 3 years completing my PhD I would be a constant ball of happiness, ready to give him all the validation he wanted], At least, I refuse to be pessimistic or bitter in any way about this stage of our marriage. I think there is little I can do to prevent some physical distance between us, at least not while still pursuing my PhD –which I want to finish, but I think we can both prevent emotional distance [I couldn’t prevent my physical distance because M. was unwilling to make sacrifices in order to make sure we were together, my career was obviously worth so much less than his]. I will work really hard into making more friends, but right now you are my best friend and I like sharing that part of my life with you [M. decided I didn’t have enough friends and that was inconvenient for him, really? I would have had so many more friends if he didn’t hate all my friends or didn’t put pressure on me to be home when he was]. When something awesome or awful happens, you are the first person I want to talk to. I don’t want to replace you in that place of my heart and I don’t want to be replaced [little did I know that he had already replaced me]. I think that, knowing that you are there to support me, and that I am here to support you, is a unique part of my life. I think that other people struggle to find someone that they can share their life with, but I know I found you. I know that I can have an amazing life without you, but I just don’t want to. I want to share all my happiness with you [that’s just me giving him validation, because he is a special little snowflake that makes my life worth living].
I know that our relationship is far from perfect. I have certainly been complacent and you continue to want to be ever in control. Over time I think we have both failed to communicate what our expectations and hopes are for our relationship [by fail to communicate I meant that he had never brought up any of his complains before he left for his summer internship and met X.]. I will not shy away from my responsibility, but I also have things I would like improved. I would like more room to make mistakes, without you becoming angry. I wish that you were less prone to mood swings or more resilient when it comes to letting things ruin your day. I wish you could forgive people faster, and not take things so personally. I wish you didn’t yell at people in traffic. I would like to stop feeling like you keep tabs on everything I do wrong. I want for you’re to sometimes be less calculating. I want to feel like I am an equal partner and not part of your chessboard. I want for us to have more couples time, to go on dates, at least once a month. I want romance and passion. [I think I was just asking M. for a personality transplant “M., I want you not to be a selfish, controlling and narcissistic asshole, thank you”]
If our marriage was made of limestone, a rock deposited bit by bit, sometimes faster and sometimes slower depending on the climate, but always rock solid, this would be the point when it either dissolves away or it is made stronger. This point in our life is that place in the rock cycle when this marriage will be left to weather away, with a network of caves ever growing inside it, until it eventually collapses in a devastating sinkhole, or it will be buried deeper and deeper and eventually metamorphosed into a beautiful Carrara marble. I would like to think we are going with the marble option, by no means an unbreakable rock, but strong enough that if treated with care it can be transformed into wonderful masterpieces (or countertops, but I would rather be a masterpiece) [This is the part in the letter where I remind him that I’m funny and smart, also turned out we were a sinkhole].
You know me better than anybody else. You know that I dislike red peppers but will eat them if I can’t see them. You know that I can be both filled with empathy, and unnecessarily cruel. You know that I can be lazy and unreliable, that I can be petty and insecure, and that I be can standoffish and hateful [I have at time behaved in all of these ways, because I’m human, although this bout of self-hate was completely unnecessary; I’m not any of those things, I’m darn human]. I hope you also know that I strive to take that part of myself and make it as insignificant as possible; that I aim to be efficient and trustworthy, charitably and confident, and ultimately friendly and loving. I am altogether far from perfect, but I want to be generally good. Mostly good for you. I want to be the type of partner that can inspire you to be a better version of yourself. I want for you to take the best parts of me: my empathy, my easiness to forgive, my openness, and my spontaneity and to help me conquer the worsts part of me. [Once again, probably asking M. to have a personality transplant, M. who is a faithless and godless person and does not understand the concept of conquering the worst parts of one self, although I do hope he can still gain some of my empathy and easiness to forgive, it will serve him well in life],
I think we are both destined for greatness, but I also think we can together be better than apart. I know that we have grown complacent, and there are no excuses. We have both taken each other for granted. During this past semester, I have felt like you see me as a child, you reprimand me when you think I should be working, you chastise me when I misbehave. This are not the steps require for an equal partnership [more of those red flags of emotional abuse]. I need to work on some more self-confidence [yep, because what kind of silly child ends up begging a selfish narcissist to love her?]. You should feel that Team US is a winning team, a safe bet.
Sometimes when I am with you (or talking to you) I am at my most vulnerable, my love for you is disarming. The usual tricks that I use to keep people from hurting me are useless with you. I can’t feign indifference. I can’t even think straight when I think about you slowly falling out of love with me. I think back to all the times when you said you loved me more each day, and I get confused. What else have I missed? What else am I capable of missing? There is so much fight left in me, there is so much eagerness to be with you. I promise to do my very best to support you and your career [this is the worst form of “pick me dance”, I will support HIM, and just keep making my needs smaller until he chooses me]. I will even try my best to match you hour by hour when you work (although I will leave some allowance for watching Netflix quietly while running samples on the [scientific instrument]). I will work on myself and I will try and try to make you and myself proud. [I am a smart and accomplished person, I have won awards for my research, my advisor is extremely happy with my progress and wants us to publish in one of the best journals in the country. Why did I let M. decide if I was working hard enough or well enough? He called my lack of drive unattractive, but why did I let him belittle my accomplishments? I was the one in the fully funded PhD program at a tier 1 research institution. I relocated us to America while he spent a year playing computer games and fooling around. I am so accomplished, why would I doubt that?].
Currently, I feel like an idiot. I didn’t realize how bad things had gotten for you. I second guess all the happy moments in the past three year: sharing fish and chips in [place], being in our first apartment, cycling to see your parents in [place], going to Egypt and that first acceptance from [graduate program], making chocolate fondue for New Year Eve, you getting into the [university] with a large scholarship, lying on a beach in [country], cuddling in bed on a Sunday morning. Where was your heart then? Where these just fleeting moments of happiness? Is the future of many more moments like this worth so little to you? I hate the notion of not sharing my future with you, of never going on an Alaskan cruise, or staying in fancy hotels in Asia. I can’t imagine never taking you to [place] or never buying a house together. I can’t think about not seeing [name] and [name] grow up, or see [name] graduate from high school. Never again hearing ]happy birthday song] sang in tune but out of sync. [I will make new happy moments alone or with someone else, I’ll buy that house and go on that Alaskan cruise, stay in fancy hotels. I will see my nieces grow up and graduate. His family still wants me in their life, because I’m kind and loving, and I didn’t need him around for them to love me, and new people will be part of my life. New memories will be formed, it will be alright].
I know nothing in life is inevitable, but it is my intention that for as long as I live -and I fully intend for you to outlive me- I will be your wife. I won’t do this regardless of your actions; I won’t be a silent martyr. I won’t be the captain waiting stoically on deck as the band plays and the Titanic sinks. If our marriage survives this storm and manages to not collide with any icebergs, it will do so as a happy marriage. I will do everything –I do mean everything- within my power to fight for us. Ultimately, I am not ready to give up on our marriage, and I don’t think you are either. [and I, I did everything I could, and that was much more than I should have done, and it was still not enough].
Eternally yours [No, I’m most definitely not eternally his].