My husband and I weren’t wildly mismatched. Neither of us cheated. We weren’t even the type to yell. How do you accept that your marriage has ended when you can’t figure out what exactly went wrong?

The author sits at the kitchen table she once shared with her husband of 20 years.

When my husband leaves me, he doesn’t even realize it’s our anniversary.

Not our wedding anniversary. It’s 20 years to the day we became a couple, when my 17-year-old self called to invite him to a New Year’s Even party I was throwing solely to see him while I was home for winter break.

It was during that phone call that we finally spoke of the fact that I’d been in love with him since  was 12 years old. I held my breath as he revealed that despite our four-year age difference, he could finally see the possibility of a future for the two of us.

Twenty years and two children later, the only man I’ve ever loved walks out our front door for the last time, closing it softy behind him.

Now it’s “my” front door. One that from now on my husband – let’s call him M. – will knock on when he comes to pick up our boys, instead of simply entering, to enfold me.

It’s easy to recount the moment that a frayed rope finally splits in two. It’s so much harder to explain what caused that first microscopic tear, which made room for the next two thousand.

Description: It’s easy to recount the moment that a frayed rope finally splits in two

It’s easy to recount the moment that a frayed rope finally splits in two

Could it really be that a marriage ends because one person usually feels like staying in and other feels like going to the movie with subtitles before we die? Because one is a saver and the other a spender? Because one wants to make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day and the other forgets, and it’s not the one you think? Because one really wants to read in bed, and the other really wants to not read, and it’s late and I’m so tired and do we have to discuss this again right now? Could it really be?

Just as the beginning of a marriage is not one moment – the kiss at the end of the ceremony – neither is its conclusion as simple as the kiss-off the end. The disentangling of two lives is a series of moments, each more surreal than the next. This is the story of those moments.

August 2, 2008

M. and I are alone in the family room, arguing over something so insignificant that I can’t even recall it. It’s not particularly heated.

He looks at me and says, “I want a divorce”

“Okay,” I reply.

This isn’t the first time either of us has brought up divorce. We knew we’d have to consider it if the silence and stonewalling didn’t stop. But this is the first time that one of us truly initiated it.

Description: He looks at me and says, “I want a divorce”

He looks at me and says, “I want a divorce”

M. wilts on the chair across from me and reveals that he has already seen a lawyer. This, more than anything, shocks me. This shows intent. This is premeditated.

November 17, 2008

Getting a divorce requires collecting information. I need a guide to this foreign land, a Lonely Planet Guide to Divorce, or a Let’s Go: Hell. In my bedroom late at night, I scour websites for information on custody, child support, alimony. I don’t understand the jargon. It occurs to me that getting a divorce is not unlike being diagnosed with a terrible disease. You have to learn a new language you had hoped to go your whole life never knowing. You have to hire expects and pay them lots of money. You have to deny, rage, bargain, despair, accept.

Though separated, the author and her husband continued to live together for over a year after they decide to get divorced

The computer screen blurs. I clear out my search history and switch off what used to be our bedside lamp. M. is asleep across the hall in what we refer to as his “office” but which now contains a bed.

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