My Ex And Me. Together, Unhappy.

03/01/2017 10:17 pm ET Updated Mar 03, 2017

Thursday and Friday mornings my fiancé Andrew leaves for work while I slumber, answer emails or watch the news in bed. Both divorced, our kids are with our exes these mornings. Free from school drop off, my flexibly scheduled self can usually afford the luxury of extra time under the covers. As a light-sleeping night owl this is especially helpful since I typically don’t enter REM until close to daylight.

Andrew makes tea, goes through emails, drinks his tea, reads the paper and checks in on Mika and Joe, exercises and showers all before I’ve brushed my teeth. He does this every morning, whether he has slept well or not, whether he wants to or not, without throwing guilt my way or comparing our schedules or responsibilities. He sits on the bed when he’s ready to go for a quick chat and kiss.

One recent morning…

“Boo, look at you, in bed about to close your eyes again,” he said and kissed me goodbye.

“If I didn’t know better I’d say there’s some bitterness in that statement,” I replied. I did know better. I also know if our situations were reversed, I would not be as gracious.

“Nope,” he smiled. “I hold nothing but love for you.”

Later while I’m running his words repeat on a loop. “Nothing but love for you. Nothing but love for you.”

Sweat dripping off my chin and onto my iPhone my thoughts turn to the times we’ve disagreed. We sit, talk it out and together reach a mutual understanding of how we’re going to move forward, any resentment or anger from our initial argument evaporates upon its conclusion. I’m grateful, no longer in an unhealthy and unhappy marriage. In my early forties with two kids, I am in a joyful, sexy, gratifying and healthy relationship that’s filled with respect, kindness and love.

I jog on and recall that starting out as two young adults, my ex and I enjoyed attraction followed by adoration, affection and love. Sadly it turned into an “if this/then that” marriage, a daily critique of what was done, how it was done wrong, what could be done better and what should not be done at all. A continual finger pointing evaluation of my thoughts and actions followed by suggestions on what might make me a better person.

Any love my ex held for me, fell to the very bottom of a very full basket of negativity. Suffocated under the pile of shoulds, coulds, mustn’ts and don’ts, love never made it off the bottom of that basket. He held, and I felt, everything else but love. It sucked.

And then my smug self trips on my own feet. I nearly fall down as I realize I too didn’t hold just love for him. I catch my breath, tempted to cop out and say through the middle and by the end of our marriage that was impossible. Running still, I look ahead and see myself reflected in a window. I know the truth. I lacked respect for my ex from the start. There were things at 21, 22 years old that didn’t sit right with me. I stayed; I was young and focused on the attraction and love rather than the rest. I chose to move forward and that’s on me. Long before any “if this/than that,” before our cycle of crap started turning, my ex was with a partner who didn’t respect him, who didn’t just hold love for him. Later, he, like me, was in an unhealthy and unhappy marriage. It must have sucked.

Lest I become too empathetic I start to replay details of conversations, emails, vacations, dinners at home and baseball games. A sentence I’ve been told countless times runs through my mind…

“It doesn’t matter what was done or what happened. It’s over.”

Do the specifics matter anymore? Is there a hierarchy of sins? I’ve asked myself these questions and am never able to settle on one answer. Most days I believe some transgressions are worse than others, farther reaching and with a deeper impression upon one’s psyche, flesh and soul. I know the details, who did what, don’t really matter. My ex and I weren’t a good long-term match from the start. But, also, the details do matter. Everything that happens to us shapes who we are. The specifics are all a part of me; they affect how I move in my relationships now and how and what I will teach my children in the future. I don’t condone nor can I forget the details. I don’t even want to, it’s part of my life.

I’d have thought being loved well now would only open my eyes more to how poorly I had been loved in the past. I was wrong. It also shined a light on, fair or not, how poorly loved my ex likely felt.

Details may or may not matter. I can replay scenes and organize violations on a ladder if I want (no thanks). Many questions without definitive answers but one thing is now clear. I wasn’t with someone who had nothing but love for me and the same goes for my ex. He wasn’t with someone who had nothing but love for him. In this, we were together, unhappy.

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