It has been over three years since I left my marriage of twenty years and moved out of my house to begin a new life as an out gay man at 55 years of age. It has been a fantastic and life-changing few years. I have loved every minute of my new life and have approached starting over with a sense of fun and energy and drive that I did not know I was capable of.
A year and a half ago I began to date a wonderful man. He is sweet and sensitive, smart, and funny. We like each other, love each other, and have a good time being together. It is a mature relationship between two men who have both had long term relationships, me with a woman and him with men, and we both understand something about love and commitment and giving to another person.
My plan when I moved out of my marriage was to get on with my life and worry about divorce later. I was in a rush to begin my new gay life and did not want to be dragged down by the process of divorce. I moved into an apartment. My wife stayed at our house. My son was just entering his senior year of high school. Life was good.
My partner and I have had a few conversations about eventually moving in together but the question of my divorce always hangs in the air. I know I need to create the space for the next part of my life to emerge and to do that I need to get divorced. But it is not easy.
Even though it has been three years, my wife has not moved on as much as I had hoped. She told me yesterday that while I was out living my authentic self she was hiding the pain she is still in so that people think she is doing better than she really is.
My wife has always been someone who does not do change well. She told me that she wanted to make it clear that she would move out of our house on her schedule and no one else’s. She could move out soon, she could move out when our son graduates college, or she could decide to stay in the house that is her home. A house that still has many things that belong to me and which I will take some time in the future. She is living alone, except for the few weeks my son is home from college every year, in a large house surrounded by our things. It can not be good for her.
I met with my wife this past Saturday to talk about beginning the mediation process. I told her that I had been dating someone and that we were talking about living together. I had assumed she knew about my partner and when she did not react to my disclosure it seemed to confirm my suspicion.
When I spoke to her again yesterday she told me how much I had upset her and demanded to know why I felt the need to tell her that I was dating a man. Didn’t I understand how painful it was for her to hear this? I reminded her that she had pressed me a few weeks ago about why I was pushing for divorce at this time and was not satisfied with my answers, and so I wanted to tell her the full story. I also told her that I had assumed that she knew. Yes, she said, she had assumed I was dating someone as I mentioned traveling to different places with someone. So she knew, but my telling her upset her. I can not win here.
This past Spring my son wrote a beautiful article about my coming out to him for a college class. The article was later published in his college literary journal. My wife ranted yesterday that he had written for the world to see that she went around the house taking down my pictures. I had been interviewed in a Washington LGBTQ paper earlier this year. My wife ranted yesterday that I had told the world that she knew I was gay on our second date, (which is true). She is in pain and there is not very much I can do to ease her pain.
Divorce is not an easy process. For me interacting with my wife brings up all kinds of old emotions between us. I can never seem to do anything right when it comes to being thoughtful about her emotional well being. I say things that bring her pain and she lets me know it. I hate seeing her in pain and wish I could take the pain away, a role I played throughout our marriage. I do not know how to get her to move on emotionally and really it is not my job to ensure her emotional wellbeing.
So I am beginning the process of divorce with my wife and I feel a degree of internal upheaval and emotional churn that I have not felt since before leaving my marriage. But after three years it is time to move on.