I THINK I know why my wife left me.
Apart from the fact that I treated her very badly over a long period of time.
It seems she wants control.
Not of me, but of her own life. She didn’t tell me this; the counsellor did.
Does that mean she thought that I was controlling her life? I guess I’ll never know. But I hope not. I couldn’t even control the dog while it was alive!
In fact, I can make a long list of things I haven’t been able to control, including my money, the children, the neighbour’s music, the other neighbour’s cat, the weather, the rates and Ñ of course Ñ my marriage.
And the irony is that they were all things I wanted to control. I certainly never wanted to control her. I simply wanted us to have a wonderful time together, with moments of exceptional passion and closeness to act as milestones along the way.
And actually, we had them. But the idea was that we’d still be holding hands and remembering them together, and even looking forward to the next moment of exceptional passion. (And it’s no good anyone out there under 40 blocking their ears and running for cover. You didn’t invent sex and you don’t own it. Neither did we, of course; but we’ve had more practise).
Instead we are both living alone, 120km apart. One in the bush, one in the city.
It’s been eight months now since I discovered she didn’t love me. I sometimes wish I felt the same way about her. It would make it easier. I wish I could say that I didn’t deserve it, because then I could be indignant at the injustice, and it’s always easier to be angry than to be calm. But I do deserve it.
I got too close to other women. That doesn’t mean I slept with them; or even that I wanted to sleep with them! I just paid them attention that should have been paid to my wife; and I did it because I felt they needed it. But she needed it, too, of course, and there were times when she didn’t get it and that made her feel inadequate and unloved.
And the really stupid part is that as I did this I continued to imagine I was a good husband. I was a good husband in some ways; in lots of ways, even. But some things are unforgivable, and allowing your spouse to feel unloved is probably top of the list.
What makes it worse is that I used to try to throw the blame back on her. She was oversensitive; she was imagining it; she was neurotic (my wife is the most un-neurotic person in the history of the world).
Maybe that all qualifies as controlling. When you hold someone’s feelings in the palm of your hand Ñ when they give them to you to hold Ñ and you betray themâ€¦ maybe that’s controlling.
Anywayâ€¦ everyone said time would heal the wound, and they’re right. But it’s no longer the grief of losing her and everything we had that hurts â€“ it’s the knowledge that as time passes it will stop hurting.
I don’t want it to stop hurting. I don’t want the wonderful things we had and did to become blunted by the passing of time.
And there’s nothing I can do about that either. You see â€“ that’s how controlling I am.
I hate platitudes. They’re usually sanctimonious and full of holes, but there’s one that I can’t shake out of my head. It’s this: can you love something enough to let it go?
I thought for many months that I could argue her out of itâ€¦ bring logic to bear to get her to change her mind; but this isn’t about logicâ€¦ it’s about emotions.
And she doesn’t love me. You can’t argue someone into loving you. Look around you â€“ there’s no logic to explain why a table dancer with a Masters degree falls for a plumber with a beer gut, but it happens (my wife is not, and never has been, a table dancer).
Soâ€¦ I am letting her go. With love, with regret, with a heavy heart. Not because I want to â€“ but because she wants me to.
End of story.
No â€“ not the end of the story; just the point where I ran out of words, and strength. Couldn’t even control thatâ€¦