[Sometimes we can learn a lot from others’ experiences. At a time when maintaining a marriage and keeping a good relationship is a challenge, it is indeed necessary that we keep learning from others’ experiences. That is the reason we bring this series titled “Divorce Stories” for you. These are shared on a Social Media platform by different users. Some of these users have used a name, and some others didn’t but their experiences bring a good amount of learning for us, both men and women.
Please let us know what lessons we can learn from the story. And how will you act differently if you were in that relationship? Let’s learn the relationship lessons together.]
Dante Wong (Writer)
We were married for three years before my then-wife-now-ex-wife told me she wanted a divorce.
I remember, very vividly, her reasons for wanting a divorce.
She said she wanted someone who was more “fire”, a man who was more rough around the edges, who would make grand romantic gestures, who could utter romantic lines at the drop of a hat, who would buy her gifts, who was more “dangerous” and tough and rough, someone who strove for power and social influence, someone who made things happen.
In contrast, she said I was like “water”, too placid and calm, too moral and upright, too gentle and polite. She thought I was wasting too much of my time chatting with cashiers, the cleaners, waiters and waitresses, cab drivers, etc. when I should be using that time to focus on other more important things instead, like earning more money and being “somebody”. According to her, I was not a go-getter, I was too boring.
I’m the first to admit that I have many flaws. But listening to your partner spew out a long list of every area you fall short in… well, I’ve never had someone stab me in the guts with a knife and then proceed to twist and turn, but I think that must be what it feels like.
She suggested going for marriage counselling and I was only too happy to do so, as I genuinely believed we could work it out.
But after the third session, she decided that she didn’t want to do it anymore, so we stopped and never went down that route again.
Instead, she told me we would be having an open marriage from that point on. She wanted adventure, she wanted mystery, she wanted fiery excitement. Things she said I couldn’t provide.
Now, I’m quite open-minded about a lot of things, but I already knew an open marriage wasn’t for me. For me, marriage is about two people, and two people only.
But when I told her my thoughts about an open marriage, she said I was trying to control her life, that I was too old-fashioned and that I should adapt to the times.
I seriously don’t know what possessed me, but at that point in time, I was very desperate to try and repair our marriage, so I very reluctantly acquiesced to her, well, not request, really, as she was going to do it anyway, even without my permission. More like went along with her demands, hoping that what she was proposing would help mend our marriage.
She started going on Tinder and accepting dates with a lot of men. I remember the first time this happened. I was preparing dinner for the two of us at home when she sent me a text message telling me that she wasn’t coming home for dinner and that she won’t be back for the night as she was out on a date with a man and would be staying at his place. I texted her back, to tell me where she was, but she never replied.
How do you sleep when the woman you love is out with another man and is staying over at his place? And probably sleeping with him. How do you get rid of that image that pops up in your mind every few seconds?
I know I didn’t get any sleep that night.
Or for many nights after that.
She didn’t even try to hide it. The flowers from the men she was going out with. The gifts. The soft toys. In fact, I was the one who had to get rid of those flowers when they were starting to wilt.
I still did all that I could to try and be a good husband. I cooked for her, all her favourite dishes, did her laundry, and anytime she felt sick or had cramps, I went to the store to get medicine and made soup and congee for her, did both the cooking and cleaning up after dinner so that she didn’t need to do housework, tucked her in so she could sleep early and so that she could recover more quickly.
Actually, I had already been doing all of that since our marriage.
She had wanted to do her MBA, and I too had wanted to do a Masters in Tech. But I put my plans on the back-burner so she could do her MBA first, and so I could pick up the slack around the home. My reasoning was that she could do her MBA first, and then I’ll do my Masters later. So, I became very good at cooking for her, packing her lunch so that she had home-cooked meals during her lunch in school, made sure to keep the house neat and tidy so she could study in a clean environment.
That was fine until she graduated and got a job at a big, well-known company.
It was a couple of months after she started working that she told me she wanted the divorce.
So, after several months of the open-marriage thing, with her going on dates with other men and staying over at their places, we went on a trip to LA. She had already booked a trip for the both of us before she had mentioned wanting a divorce, but we both flew to LA anyway. In my heart, I hoped that the trip would help us reconcile if even a tiny step in that direction.
No such luck. Once again, I was treated to a recitation of that long list of why I wasn’t good enough for her. Too much like “water”. Too gentle and too damn polite, too moral, too much time spent caring about people who don’t matter, too calm and placid, no fire in my belly, not a go-getter, etc etc etc.
Throughout the trip, the expression that was constantly plastered on her face told me she would rather be with anyone else other than me. I’ll never forget the moment when we were at the Santa Monica Pier, the hustle and the bustle of the children enjoying the Ferris wheel and the various rides reduced to a low hum in the background, and she just gave out this long sigh, and her face slowly turned toward the overcast sky, the one shaft of sunlight that had somehow managed to pierce through the clouds falling onto the long-suffering look etched into her features. If there’s ever a look that says “I’d rather be with anyone else”…
Several months down the line, and more of the same, she starts to talk about divorce again, and this time, I agreed.
It was because a week or so ago, on those rare mornings when she was actually at home and not at some other man’s house, I told her I still loved her, and that I would take a bullet for her and sacrifice my life for hers should a situation ever arise where it was either her life or my own that would be sacrificed for the other.
Yes, I know it might be overly dramatic.
But that was the writer in me talking.
I wasn’t expecting much, to be honest.
Probably a cold nod of acknowledgement, a snort, a wry laugh, or something along those lines.
But her reply was a thousand times icier than I expected.
“That’s the right thing to do because my life is worth much more than yours.”
I asked her why she thought that.
She said it was because she was younger, she now had her MBA, and she was working at a big, well-known company and earning more than me.
That’s when I decided that perhaps a divorce wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all.
If the woman you’ve loved and cared for all this while says that to you, it’s probably a good sign that your relationship is over and that you should just move on.
As I packed up my stuff – thankfully, I didn’t have much, most of the stuff in the house was hers, everything I owned I could fit into one suitcase and a backpack – a small part of me walked through that long list of hers that went into great detail on why I didn’t measure up.
I had always thought that people got divorced because one of them was a bad person. A womanizer. An abuser. An addict. Dismissive of other people. Arrogant. Cruel. Unkind. A cheater. An adulterer.
I had never expected that being like “water” and being too calm and gentle and placid and boring would lead to a divorce.
At that point, I felt really bad about myself. In my mind, I was thinking that I must be REALLY boring and the world’s “water”-est man if that’s the reason why she wanted me out of her life. I even thought I might feel better about the whole thing if she had wanted a divorce because I had done something wrong instead, like if I had cheated on her or something similar.
But what felt even worse than that was the cold, hard realization that I had given up my own principles – about the sanctity of marriage and that marriage is only for two people – just because I had so desperately wanted to make our marriage work.
The latter shook me to my core far more than the former.
I finished packing up my one suitcase, strapped my backpack on, slipped into my shoes and quietly walked out of the house before the sun rose on that thundering grey morning.
And that was that.
*Published as obtained on social media reply
TMF Note – He tried to act like a feminist and respect every mindless ‘right’ of a woman. Didn’t realize the danger until he himself has suffered.