Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Are you a romantic person, or do you live in a more down-to-earth, practical mindset where you focus on everyday tasks and enjoy life as it comes?
I like the idea of romance, but then I think my idea is more of a fantasy drawn from years of reading books and imagining relationships full of raw passion and desire. My husband and I have never been romantic. I used to dream that he might surprise me with a date night or at least send the children to their grandparents to give me a break. Eventually I learned that he was too engrossed in his job to think about ways to help his wife, and gradually the romantic ideals and dreams faded away. Real life took over. There is no room for romance in the world of child-rearing and striving to earn a living and pay the bills, at least in my experience.
My husband and I are currently separated at my insistence. I don’t feel the same for him that I used to. We have been together for twenty years, married for ten, and I’m not prepared to throw away the life that we built. What I need is for us both to work out what we want, what are our priorities, and how we can move forward. I want a partnership, and that is not what we had recently. He has a compulsive addiction to work and that leaves no room for his family. He refuses to seek professional help, and when I approached our local doctors for advice last year, they said they couldn’t intervene unless he came to them. He doesn’t think he has a problem. And so, we are becoming one of those broken marriage statistics that I always promised myself I would never succumb to.
Perhaps I need therapy? Maybe this blog post is my way of sharing a lot of pent up emotion and frustration that I’ve been harbouring for over twelve months. I was raised in an era where we didn’t “air our dirty washing in public.” I am not writing this to vilify my husband. He has mental illness and he needs help. I cannot do any more for him. I need support with our children and our home, so that I can work on my professional life. We have no time for romance.
I think about the relationships that my grandparents had. Both sets of grandparents were married for sixty years. I watched them as I grew up. My paternal grandparents were comfortable with each other, clearly in love right to the end, but there was never any overt romance, not in the commercial sense. They just worked well together, each accepting their roles and doing what needed to be done. They enjoyed each other’s company. My maternal grandparents were much the same, if a little more formal due to my grandad’s navy training. He clearly loved my Nan deeply, and she was by his side when he passed away last year. She is lonely now, living at home by herself. Again, they each had their roles in the partnership. Yes, they argued sometimes, but they always made up and they never stopped loving each other.
Did I give up too easily? Is there something more that we can do for our marriage? I don’t know. I do know that we need time to heal and learn how to move forward. The pandemic hasn’t helped. My husband is a key worker, which gave him even more reason to bury himself in work. He never likes taking holidays and he is glad that we are not allowed to travel right now. I am bored, stuck at home with the children. We need some life again. I need to romance myself.
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