Those were the words I finally had to speak to my husband a few weeks ago. They were not said in anger, they were not the result of a row. Since being married I feel he has become more secure, which is great, but I have felt less secure. We stopped talking, he’d play on his phone of an evening when we were supposed to be watching a film, he’d come in from work and be on his phone, and yet when it came to him wanting to do something, we were all supposed to just be in good moods and grateful he wanted to spend time with us. As you can imagine, feeling like a piece of furniture is not conducive to a great relationship so we did have a row about his phone and lack of interest and he said he’d try harder, especially with the kids, and he has.
I still didn’t feel right. Instead of looking forward to him coming home, I dreaded it. I hoped he’d have to go away for work more than I usually did and I decided that I needed to figure out what was going on in my head. I don’t like doing that. I usually bob along, making sure everyone is happy and that’s enough, except it’s not is it? Not really. I file things away in my brain and don’t deal with them. I’m not good about talking about my feelings either, it’s hard enough figuring out what I’m feeling, never mind explain it to someone else. I was really unhappy. He knew I was unhappy. I kept talking about how I didn’t understand the world, how I never have understood it. I don’t “get” people and their games, and why they lie, and why they don’t just say what they mean and I feel like I don’t belong to anything and never have done. Except for my kids. I fit with them. They don’t have expectations of me in the same way. They expect me to be there and look after them, obviously, but they don’t expect sparkling conversation or little amusing bon mots, I’m just there to be mum which I have done for, like, ever- so it’s something I know I can do. Kids are easily amused, you just act daft and tell poo jokes.
And that’s when I knew what the problem was. It’s the expectations that fill me with anxiety and unhappiness and the fact that I know I can’t fulfil those expectations. I am not like most people, I am a nervy, anxious person and according to my husband very black and white about certain things like lying. I don’t understand lying. It drives me insane. Why bother telling lies- you will get found out then trust will be broken and I will think you were trying to make a fool of me. Ok you don’t have to be blunt but there’s nothing wrong with being honest. Anyway, I’m going off the point. The point is I can’t be the wife he expects, society expects and that I think everyone expects. I couldn’t be the daughter, the sister, the girlfriend that was expected and I’m tired of failing. So I told him I didn’t want to be his wife. I told him if he wanted to go and find someone more “normal” he was welcome to, and I wouldn’t hold it against him and we’d make it work with the kids. As I said, I am not good at expressing myself and the conversation went on for quite a while, as he was checking if I wanted to leave (no), if I was looking for someone else (no), if I was having another breakdown (no). I just wanted to have my friend back who used to laugh with me, support me, have fun with me, talk nonsense with me, and all the other things we used to do. I told him being a mum of 4 with each child having such great needs, and the lack of sleep meant I couldn’t be “a wife” the way he wanted.
Then he asked what I needed from him. I told him I needed no pressure and I needed to know what he wanted. He wants to be with me. He wants us to stay a family. He wants me to deal with everything that’s happened over the last 40 years, however long that takes, and he wants me to be happy. He told me he didn’t give a **** what society expected. He told me he always knew I wasn’t like everyone else, then proceeded to list all the ways in which I was different. The list was quite extensive! But, he said, I made life more interesting and challenged his ideas on lots of things and came at things from a different perspective. Him being distant didn’t help our relationship but me being unhappy and maybe pushing him away definitely didn’t help. Catch 22 situation. So we are together, in that we are sharing the house and the children, but also back as friends. Since our chat I feel relieved that he is willing to stand by me while I sort through my head and that he doesn’t expect me to change with regards my “oddness”. I have found someone I don’t have to pretend with, pretending is exhausting. I might get a chance to be myself.
I know this may have been a really selfish action, it’s all about me kind of thing, but I didn’t want him to stay and get nothing from it. He’s allowed a life too. I’ve told him he doesn’t have to do everything with me. I’m not keen on going out so if he wants a night out with mates he can do it guilt free. It’s a work in progress though as I’m not the only one in this relationship with issues. Just as he has helped and supported me, I will do the same for him, when he’s ready. We are happier now. I don’t know how long it will last, I suspect our relationship will always have problems but I think we both feel a bit more confident broaching things with each other now. If I was going to be with anyone, it would be him, we just have to define what “wife” means to us. For the first time in a long time I feel a little bit optimistic about the future. Just a little bit.