Within a few months of returning from our honeymoon, our relationship started changing. Reflecting back, I see how once the wedding ring was slipped on my finger, he felt he could drop some of the pretense of our two years of dating.
In my mid-20's, I was swept off my feet by the attention of an older man. We had such a wonderful time together on golf vacations; we learned to sail and took trips to the wine country. As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20. Although we worked hard at our golf game, we did not have the same commitment to deepening our relationship. We were busy, but we were not growing together.
I incorrectly assumed that the relationship we had developed over two years would be the same after the wedding. I had somehow missed the point with my parents loving relationship that marriage takes work -- it just doesn't happen. It's not that they didn't have their conflicts; they did -- they dealt with it together and that continued to deepen their relationship.
The first notable change for us was our sex life. Aspects of the physical intimacy that I thought were enjoyable for both of us now disgusted him once we were married. I would consider our sex life very mainstream; it's not like it we were having sex from the chandelier. There was nothing kinky about it. I was extremely hurt and any attempt to discuss was shut down by him.
Other changes were mental, beginning with his passive aggressive behavior. When we married I had short hair. Nearly every time I returned from an appointment with the hairdresser, he would tell me and others that his "little boyfriend was back." This was hurtful because I never wanted to grow my hair out, but he wanted me to.
When we met our income level was the same. By the time we married, my income was starting to surpass his. He would frequently bring up that fact that I made more money than him with family and friends over the years. He tried to joke it off; but there was always a sharp undertone. When he was laid off, the rhetoric was even more pronounced, always telling everyone is a boastful manner that he was going to retire and I was going to support him.
There was nothing funny about it; I was uncomfortable being in those situations. When I tried to discuss his obvious discomfort with my salary, he waved it off as nothing. I know today that his ego couldn't take the fact that his younger wife made more than he did.
I chose to stay in the relationship. I kept telling myself it wasn't that bad, and that he'll change back into the man I dated. I kept suppressing my feelings. Overtime I was emotionally dead. When the pain got to be too much, we both went into marriage counseling. I'll admit that not all the problems were sitting on his side of the fence; we both had contributed to the mess of our marriage. After many sessions with the marriage counselor, my ex made it clear that I was the sole problem in our marriage. With no willingness on his side to change, I made the decision to divorce, which he accepted.
Several years after the divorce, I was able to learn lessons from my marriage. Two of the key lessons I learned are that marriage is work, but that commitment starts far before the wedding bells ring. Second is that communication is critical; issues and concerns need to be raised early instead of ignoring them and sweeping them under the rug.
Realizing that my communication issues were not limited to my marriage, I have learned to incorporate these lessons into all aspects of my life, including the current relationship I have with my ex. Through out love for our daughter, we have learned to bridge our communication gap for her sake. For that I am grateful.