(Written 8 December 2014. Time to publish.)
7 Dec 2014: "I had a really nice time picking out a tree with you today. We are a really good couple. Please don't throw everything away. I love you and want to have our marriage work."
Well, I love you too, and would prefer if our marriage worked as well. Unfortunately, it doesn't. You'll accuse me of looking to the past for justification, and rightly so. But in addition to being aware of our struggles six months ago or six years ago, I am also thinking of the past week, the past month, or sometimes even yesterday. What's taken me so long to reach this conclusion is the realization that all that arguing, all that conflict, is connected, and evidence that our marriage is broken, and every effort we've made to repair it has failed.
Our experience yesterday picking out a Christmas tree does not represent a potential for resolution of all those years of conflict. It does not show a glimmer of hope beneath years of dysfunction. It holds no answers to our inability to see eye to eye on financial issues, or form a sexual bond. However, I won't deny it was a positive experience. It does (to me) represent the very best we can be: friends and coparents. No part of the Christmas tree experience crossed a line of conflict or touched a point of sensitivity. It did not require an intimacy we've never had, or a major decision regarding our children or money. In this way, I definitely agree with you: I also had a really nice time picking out a tree with you today.
As for "throw[ing] everything away," I am certainly not doing that. I am choosing to live without you, my spouse, and our marriage, true. But I am taking every day of our twenty years with me. I will not discard it. I will remain the father of our children and your partner in raising them. I will, if you're willing, remain your friend, and do things for/with you that friends do together. Maybe we can, after all, enjoy a concert together, but won't it be a relief when it's time to go home and I'm horny and excitable from the show and all you want to do is go to bed? Won't it be freeing to drop all the baggage built up for so long and actually enjoy each other's company without the expectations that have soured our relationship for so long?
That's really what I'm looking forward to most with you: the ability to just be in each other's presence and emotional space without all the defensiveness, the guarding of information for fear of criticism, the sensitivity to the past, and the disapproval. This mistrust has killed our marriage.
So that brings me to question your first statement: we are a really good couple. Why? Because I disagree: We don't touch each other; even before I moved out of our bedroom, while I was still trying to make things work, you didn't lay a hand on me unless we were in public. We argue in the open because it's the most civil arena; arguing in private always breaks down to hurt feelings and accusations. We have little in common when it comes to how we spend our leisure time, what sparks our brains, and how we respond to emotional stimuli. These are just the public aspects of our couplehood. I don't think it necessary to get into detail about differences in our sexual appetites and interests, but this has been the single most challenging part of our marriage, and ultimately what I'm looking forward to changing the most.