Sunday, March 27, 2011

Why did my marriage fail?

There seems no more fundamental question for me to ask right now.  OK, so I know that asking that is the most normal thing in the world.  I also know that I also know that asking that is, ultimately, futile and irrelevant.  But I'm an engineer.  Without a post-modem on it, how do you form lessons learned?  And without lessons learned, how do you not repeat the same mistakes next time?  Asking it from the very pathological standpoint of, "what did I do wrong?" or "what is so wrong with me that makes me so unlovable?" is obviously unhelpful.  Actually stepping outside and looking at what did and did not work might be helpful.  As long as it doesn't fuel my depersonalization thing. 

But, anyway, I can't help it.  That's what you do when you divorce.  You ask why.

To me, the answer to that question goes way, way back.  As I think I've mentioned, more than one counselor who has seen Madam X and I since the divorce started has come to the conclusion that the two of us simply should have never been allowed to be married.  That it was simply doomed from the start.  That means a lot to me.  Since my, oh, I'll guess I'll call it, "conversion", I have very deeply internalized the ideas and theology behind the idea of marriage annulment.  That not everything we as human beings call "marriage" truly is, just as not everything we label "divorce" is that.  God has His own standards.

And by any standard I know of, it would be hard to call what Madam X and I had a valid marriage.  The combination you find universally in both scripture and tradition that determines what is and is not marriage is sex and consent.  We certainly consummated our marriage.  But did I -- or she -- ever truly give consent? 

I know that I did not.  I told my mom six weeks before our marriage, and three weeks before I found out she was pregnant that when I graduated and left school for my job I would not take Madam X, because she was NOT the one.  I had decided NOT to marry her.  Not to continue our relationship.  To leave her and find someone else.  She certainly knew this was my decision.  She is and has always been very perceptive.  So, she got herself pregnant.  On purpose. 

OK, so this does reveal other choices of mine, that were freely made (if not well thought out), but consenting to sex with a ready and willing girl doesn't equate to consent to life-long marriage.  But she knew I am the guy that always does the right thing, no matter the consequences.  So, she got pregnant because she knew I would marry her.  That is what we were both taught was the "right thing." 

For the first 5 or 6 years of our marriage the thing I most strongly felt was trapped.  I didn't want it but I had no choice.  The first blog I had helped that.  I realized that a lot of the dysfunction in our relationship was that I had never chosen her.  So, I decided to really for real make it work.  And it did.  For awhile. 

But then there is the other half of this: she never really wanted me, either.  Yeah, she got herself pregnant so I would marry her.  But, by her own admission, this was not because she loved me.  She wanted away from her mom.  She wanted out of her home town.  She wanted a different life.  And I was her ticket out.  Me and my career.  So, she made sure I took her with me. 

But that's not really a solid foundation for a marriage, either.  It was OK until she met my "friend" Bluto.  Then she decided there was all these things she wanted that I was not and that he was.  She decided she had settled for far too little.  She decided she "deserved" more.  And so, she left. 

What went wrong?  Well, first of all, I didn't really have a lot of standards when I was first sleeping with her.  I've always had a big problem with self-confidence, and, while I was still trying to date other girls, was still sleeping with her because she was available and because I didn't think I could do any better.  I never really wanted her.  But she was there.  And, at that point, no one else was. 

I read a really good article a little while back.  It was written to single women about why they aren't married yet, and so is a pretty insightful look at what guys look for.  Or should look for.  The author says at one point, that smart guys wisely pick their wives "for their character, not their cup size."  That's about having standards.  That's about making sure the girl is the RIGHT girl.  And I just didn't.

 And that was because I didn't feel I deserved any better.  I've always struggled with self-confidence, but especially then.  There were a lot of other girls I would have rather have been with, but I thought they were way out of my league. 

OK, so what to do now?  What do I learn from all this?  Well, as my previous post showed, she still has something for me, and it is because, even if she really wants Bluto, she knows that in a lot of ways I'm the better guy.  She knows I'm the guy she can REALLY count on.  She HATES me, and even she still feels that.

So, why NOT be confident?  I'm an intelligent, educated, and successful guy.  I make in the six-figures for a rather important institution.  I'm not grossly obese or anything - and even she, in a moment of pure honesty, said I'm more sexually attractive than her other guy.  And, I do the right thing.  I have character.  I have gravitas.  Why not be confident?  Why not KNOW in my heart of hearts that ANY girl would be lucky to have me?

I don't know.  But believing that is still awful hard.


  1. Just between you and me and the lamp-post, when our daughter showed up pregnant when she 'shouldn't have been', it was a great relief to me that her baby-daddy was a guy who could be counted on NOT to do the right thing. . .

    As to a stronger sense of yourself, I've struggled with the same thing, from time to time in my life. So I don't know that I have much wisdom to offer you. But just finding a woman of strong character, who is as adamant as you are about doing the right thing, can lay a good foundation of respect that can see a marriage thru a lifetime. . .

    My wife and I certainly had opportunities to 'consummate early', but in retrospect, we're both really glad that we arrived at our wedding night as virgins (owing more to God's mercy than any great virtue of ours), for all sorts of reasons, but the mutual respect is one of the bigger ones. . .

  2. Oh, Enzo, I am happy to have fortuitously discovered your new blog!
    "she got herself pregnant" - I am wiping a tear of mirth from the corner of my eye; thanks for the laugh (I really did need it).
    Best wishes on your journey towards enlightenment, Val