I married my ex-husband three months after having met him. Soulmate? Unbridled passion? Rock the roof sex? No, meh, and certainly not.
I mean, sure, I liked the guy and wanted to spend more time with him, but because government red tape seemed hellbent on preventing that from happening -- he's Canadian -- we just decided that getting married was the thing to do. With that piece of paper we could live and work in the same country and see how things went.
Here's how things went: NOT WELL. For 18 what-the-fuck-happened-to-my-youth years.
Did I ever stop to consider everything (anything?) that marrying someone encompassed? Yeah, no. It didn't occur to me, for instance, that I would be stuck with him, ostensibly, for the rest of my life. Or that I wasn't allowed to have sex with anyone else. Ever. Never, ever again. I definitely should have given the matter a lot more thought.
To sum up how quickly things soured, I'll point out that we were in marriage counseling within four months of saying "I do" before some justice of the peace. And that towards the end of our first session that the therapist looked at him and said, "Marc, run. Run for the hills. I've never met a couple less suited to each other in all my years," I'm not exaggerating. Not even a little.
Marc didn't run. And I didn't either. Instead, somehow -- maybe because we're masochists, maybe because we're both resolutely stubborn non-quitter types -- we dug in, stayed put and stuck it out.
Don't get me wrong -- ours was everything but a traditional union. We took separate vacations, maintained our monies in separate accounts, kept entirely disparate work hours; but still, somehow, we stayed "married."
Then, 10 years into it, we had kids. Twins. Because, you know, God has a sense of humor. And things miraculously improved and we lived happily ever after.
Kidding. Naturally, it all got exponentially worse. The ante was upped. Now it was the babies and me versus him and, boy, did it suck even more than before.
Still, for whatever sick, twisted reason, we were determined to stay together "for the sake of the children" -- no matter that as they became people, they'd witness our constant bickering, or worse, painfully long silences, or that they'd grow up thinking that all daddies slept in the guest room and every mommy was sullen and withdrawn around her spouse. We simply had to stick it out. Divorce was for losers.
Then, one day, as a friend recounted how hypnosis had finally gotten her to quit smoking when nothing else had worked, I had an epiphany. The solution to all my marital woes had at long last made itself known: hypnosis!
Yes, clearly, having my brain "tricked" into thinking a different way was the answer to all my problems. I'd get hypnotized to love Marc and all would be perfect with the world. Sign me up!
If you've never tried to find a reputable hypnotist who's game to try and snap you into loving your mate, lucky you. It is not a pleasant experience. When they don't hang up on you for being weird ("Um, you're the freaking hypnotist," I'd think to myself), they vet the bejesus out of you to ascertain whether or not your intentions are legit. What's not legit about wanting to love your husband?
After an exhaustive Yelp and Google quest, I was able to lock in on a highly regarded practitioner who was, in fact, willing to take on my case. I met her at her office -- a guesthouse of some Cape Cod home deep in the San Fernando Valley -- and she was just as your mind's eye would picture: a roly-poly hippy type, draped in loosely fitting, bold prints with bangles and baubles dangling from every available body part.
With the usual getting-to-know-you pleasantries exchanged, we got down to business; namely, getting me to fall hopelessly, madly in love with the father of my children. Or to at least be able to tolerate the man.
She advised me to set my sights low and urged me to be pragmatic and accept that the brain is a tricky, complicated organ -- one that sometimes will not be cajoled into a different way of thinking -- no matter how hard we try. Then she took out a pocket watch on a chain and told me to keep my eyes fixated on it as it swung back and forth.
Only, not really. Apparently, they only do that in hokey movies. Here, I just sat in an arm chair with my eyes closed as I listened to the dulcet tones of this Mama Cass lookalike instruct me to go to (and I kid you not) "my happy place" and free my mind of all clutter and stress.
I tried. Honest, I did. I urged my frontal lobe, my reptilian brain and my heart of hearts to please capitulate just this once. After all, not only did my life as I'd come to know it hang in the balance, but that of Marc's and, now, of a little boy and a little girl. I just had to find a way to make all this work.
Surprise! I didn't "come to" with Cupid's bow firmly planted in my heart. I didn't feel all warm and fuzzy and lovey-dovey or even ever so slightly filled with a renewed sense of hope or resolve. All I felt, as I began the long drive back, was increasing despair and that I sure as hell could've come up with a more satisfying way to drop $350.
Worse? I went through pretty much the exact same scenario two more times. Sure, the locales were different and the hypnotists themselves didn't all jingle when they moved but the results remained unchanged: I didn't love Marc, and no amount of reduced peripheral awareness was going to be able to modify that.
Not surprisingly, our story ended as so many today do. Despite our valiant efforts, we did ultimately get divorced, four years after I finally convinced him to move out.
Did we all crumble and fall apart? No, we stumbled a bit, sure, but I truly believe that it was best for us all. Our children know that we love them and that they did not cause our breakup. And, best of all, they get to see us lead our (separate) lives as happy, content people who don't bicker and mope and spew venom on a daily basis.
In fact, Marc just got remarried, and I have a live-in boyfriend who makes me laugh and love and feel all the things I was convinced I'd become numb to. We're finally both happy with our lots in life.
Is there something to be said for not throwing in the towel and trying your hardest to make your marriage work? Sure. Within reason. But, in my experience, resolutely sticking to your principles for self-righteous, stubborn reasons may not always be the best plan of attack. Kind of like marrying someone after knowing them for three months.