The Qualities That Make Up A Good Man

images-8When you are going through a “maybe-divorce” I think that sometimes it is easy for forget the good parts of the mate who may no longer want you in their life. In fact, I suspect that many people, just like me, often begin to concentrate on the negative so if the divorce does indeed occur, they have at their fingertips all the reasons that their partner was a jerk, asshole or just plain incompatible. It is easy to think of all the wonderful things about your mate when everything is sunshine, rainbows and consists of great sex in the middle of some exotic location. It’s when things get unpleasant that remembering those positive attributes gets tough. So B, this is for you, and even though you won’t know it exists, I guess I kind of believe if I put them out in the universe you will know they are there. Maybe these ideas will also bump into a few men who need a primer on just what a good man is.

  1. You love our kids and would do anything for them even if it means watching My Little Pony 250 thousand times.
  2. At this point in the game, I still believe you would save my life no matter what the cost to yourself. Clark Kent has nothing on you!
  3. You work hard to bring home a paycheck which makes our lives easier.
  4. You are encouraging to our children and to me. Whether it is a pat on the back or a shout out from the stands we know you believe in us and what we are doing.
  5. You believe in us. You help us find those qualities in ourselves that make it possible for us to succeed.
  6. You treat your extended family well. You are good to your brothers and sisters. You were a wonderful son to your parents and grandmother. You can talk to my father when he and I fail to communicate.
  7. You are careful with your words. Most of the time you think before engaging your lips…a very sexy quality in a man and one that I often lack!
  8. You have worked hard to keep people employed. I have always admired how you have done your upmost to keep your employees employed during tough economic times. I know how you worry about how the impact of unemployment will effect their families and do everything to protect them.
  9. You take care of the yard every week. Even though you didn’t want a dog you still pick up the poop…if that doesn’t say love than nothing does!
  10. You will iron my clothes if I am in a hurry and I ask. Now if I could just put you in an apron while doing it you would fulfill a major fantasy of mine!
  11. You are involved in many groups that help kids and people in need. That makes you admirable in my book.
  12. You have a spiritual side that I envy. I wish with all my heart I was on that ride with you.
  13. You are adventurous and willing to go that extra mile to peek around a corner to see what is there. Thank you for taking me around the bend with you.
  14. You like to travel. We have stumbled on weird places that have brought us so much laughter over the years. Remember the old swingers resort that Expedia sent us to or the goat grill in the backwoods of Yugoslavia? Those were some great times.
  15. You used to read a story to put our children to bed even though you were tired after a long day. I loved listening to you showed our kids you loved them and because you took the characters from the book into our bedroom. ‘nough said.
  16. You are balanced. Even though you have a company to run you still put us at the top of the list of things you have to do. That is sexy!
  17. You give respect to most everyone you meet. The ability to connect with so many people of diverse backgrounds and interests speaks volumes about what you are made of.
  18. You are good with our money. Thank goodness one of us is!
  19. You have a great sense of humor No one can make me laugh and lighten the load like you.
  20. You have good manners. I am waiting for that invitation to a White House  dinner so you can be my arm candy and make me look good with your ability to charm everyone you meet.
  21. You have shaped yourself by finding traits in others that you admire and then adapting and incorporating them into your life. I love how you have made other men your mentors, men like your Uncle and Andy, and were thankful to learn from them.
  22. You have a sense of gratitude. Nothing is worse than a pompous man. You thank those around you and lift them up while doing so.
  23. You have a positive attitude. You manage to enjoy the unexpected, even when it’s not what you wanted originally
  24. You have goals and ambition. Ambition leads to qualities such as discipline, creativity and persistence which all lead to success.
  25. You are comfortable in a variety of roles. You can be Mom, Dad, Grandpa, Friend, Boss, Trustee and you are comfortable in them and wear them well.
  26. You are wise. You learn not from the experience itself but from reflecting on the lessons that you learned from it. You also know how to balance common good with self interest.
  27. You try to do right by others.
  28. You often put others wants ahead of your own which make those others feel valued and important.
  29. You share your time, money and love with us and children around the world.
  30. You work hard at being a thoughtful and skillful lover putting my sexual needs first regardless of whether or not you get the dividend at the end.

Yes, there are also some important qualities that need to be on this list. Patience (Which you do have oodles of), compassion, bravery just to name a few. Did I say honesty? Oops…honesty! Yes, definitely honesty belongs on this list. But all in all, if every man was like B the world would be a better place!

Granting Grace…337 Days to Fix This

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Several years ago I was in a car accident and it was entirely my fault. I rear-ended a man and as soon as it happened all the sticky scenarios of what might happen began to run through my head. I immediately worried about what the driver might say/do or if this fender bender would end up in court and how severe his whip-lash would prove to be. Instead, he stepped over to my car, asked how I was, looked at his car and said, “Looks like nothing is hurt. Have a good day” and drove off. I was stunned and it occurred to me that I may not have acted as well had it been me who had been rear-ended. The grace the man showed to me that day was given with sincerity and in a spirit of love. I was grateful for it.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about the concept of granting grace and realize that I do not do it very well. Yesterday’s incident with Paul is a good example. He was acting like a teenage jerk and had painted himself in a corner with his bad attitude. It ended up that he gave me his telephone after I reminded him that he had a phone so I could talk to him at all times, so I could speak to him when I needed to. “Well, if you are going to make all these ridiculous contact rules I don’t even want the phone,” were his last words before it became mine.

The concept of granting grace within my interactions with the important people in my life is problematic. I wish it wasn’t. I want to be right (unfortunately) ALWAYS. I want my children acting respectful.ALWAYS. And with these types of notions of mine granting grace often becomes difficult. But really, in its most sincere form, granting grace is as simple as holding each other accountable for creating a safe environment where people can speak up without being fearful of repercussions and being committed to their success especially in those areas that are problematic for them. It is also being patient with yourself so you can grant that same patience and grace to your loved one.

And so as I go about my day today I am going to actively search for ways to grant grace to those around me. I hope others will do the same for me because I need some grace sent my way. Desperately.

338 Days To Fix This…Can We?

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The other day I looked at something on Facebook that spoke volumes to be. It said:

THE WORST THING YOU CAN DO TO A PERSON WITH AN INVISIBLE ILLNESS IS MAKE THEM FEEL LIKE THEY NEED TO PROVE HOW SICK THEY ARE

Wow! Just wow! And I say this because that is EXACTLY what I have been thinking I have had to do to prove to B that I love him….and frankly that sucks.

Let me take you back.

About 15 years ago I had two work injuries within 2 weeks of each other and each concerned rescuing patients who were falling. As it turned out I had damage to my L1L2 and my C6 C7 with lots of muscle/soft tissue injury. I was even rated. I also developed Fibromyalgia. Eventually I opted out of my profession and went into a different one which was easier on my back and neck but even with that I was having some issues. It was only when I stopped working because we could financially afford for me to do that, that my back issues improved. I would work around the house, sit, work around the house, sit and do what I could as my injury allowed. My house was not perfect. My friends rated it a 6 on a scale of 1-10, not so messy that a bomb looked like it had been detonated but never clean/neat enough to make the cover of House Beautiful.

Unfortunately, my husband is a House Beautiful kind of guy.; nothing out of place, not a magazine in sight, not a dish in view and dog hair that magically walks itself to the trash can. He wishes that his wife would meet him at the door with a plate of steaming chocolate chip cookies and if the truth be told she would probably be wearing a French Maid Costume to boot. Hell, I wish I had that too especially if she wore thigh high black boots!

Ever since B mentioned D.I.V.O.R.C.E. I have attempted to and succeeded at improving what he feels is important in order for us to stay together (and he is trying to do the same according to the list of changes I presented to him…it is not a one way street) Anyway to meet his expectations I am not yelling (day 26 I think), I am exercising, and the house looks great because I am cleaning 4-6 hours a day. And frankly, I am pleased with the results…but at what cost? For the past three days I can barely move. My back is killing me and my neck can barely turn. And the PAIN. THE PAIN IS BRINGING TEARS TO MY EYES AND IS MAKING ME CRANKY. Sure I could live on pain pills but I have kids to drive here and there. And addiction is something I do not want to add to our gigantic list of issues.

And therein lies the problem. For years I have been fairly pain free because I have taken care of myself and made that a priority. And now it order to make B happy I am doing what he wants and expects which means that I am incurring an immense cost to myself in the form of severe pain. I am not happy with that trade off.

Now some of you would say, get a housekeeper to come in once a week and do the heavy stuff. Unfortunately, B believes that hiring a housekeeper is a sign of supreme laziness on my part and it will never happen. If your wife is at home there is no need for a housekeeper. Hell, if you are both working there is probably not a need for a house keeper in his mind. We have never had one even when we were both working two jobs. It it certainly doesn’t matter that you have an autistic son who believes that where ever a wrapper is removed it should fall, that dirtiness is next to Godliness, and that toilets should be able to flush themselves without human intervention. And it makes no difference that Andre is an episode in the making for Hoarders and he would be a Hoarder star if it wasn’t for the fact that we are constantly on him to clean up after himself which involves ME standing there the entire time making sure he does it while he whines, tantrums and manipulates.

And so I go back to the original quote:

THE WORST THING YOU CAN DO TO A PERSON WITH AN INVISIBLE ILLNESS IS MAKE THEM FEEL LIKE THEY NEED TO PROVE HOW SICK THEY ARE

And to this I would like to say:

Trust Me. Trust My Motives. Trust That I Would Move The World For You. Trust That I Hear And Respect What You Want/Need And That I Would Do It If I Could. In A Heartbeat. Trust that:

I am not trying to force you into doing more around the house.

I am not sitting around watching tv and eating bon-bons all day

I am not lazy and I am not faking anything.

I am just trying to make myself as pain free as possible so I can function in a realistic way.

Please, I beg of you to just trust that I do what I can do at any particular moment in time and accept my limitations as real and true. Don’t make me prove to you how much pain I am in or how much pain I can endure. Believe me, I want to make your life easier. I want you to be as happy as possible as you can be in this relationship. And I would love to give you House Beautiful if I could. Just don’t force me to have to climb down into the pits of pain hell to prove my love to you because the further I go down that ladder the further it will be for you to bring me back up.

Love me for who I am. Love me in spite of my limitations. Love me if my best doesn’t always match what you could do. Just love me in spite of myself just like I do you. I don’t ask you to prove yourself to me please show me the same respect.

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Seashells By The Sea Shore

Today, is a busy, busy day. Doctor appointments, therapy appointments; you name it this is the day it has to be done. Therefore, I am unable to write today. Instead, I am leaving you with a story that I wrote seven years ago.

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Seashells By The Sea Shore

For me it is the end to the perfect day. The wind is blowing softly and the sandpipers are scuttling along the shore while the sun’s golden glow shimmers as it sinks below the waves. My six-year-old son skips alongside the sea, his jet-black hair flying behind him. He delights in the unfamiliarity of the shore songs that greet us and offer up the oceans bounties…shells of many colors: brown, tan, black, white and an occasional tinge of pink. He runs collecting both big and small. Paul scoops them up, washes them off, and dumps them in the bag as we make our way down the beach. I help pointing out the errant ones that he has missed along the way. But of course, I leave the chipped and broken shells whose imperfections make them less than a desirable collectors item.

“Mom, LOOK at all my shells,” his voice booms. “There are hundreds of them.”

I peek my head into the bag. Bits and pieces with jagged edges greet me.

“But Paul, these shells are all broken,” I say, trying to be helpful. “Why don’t you collect ones like this?” handing him a perfect specimen that has just washed ashore.

“But Mom, they don’t have to be whole to be perfect. They are beautiful just the way they are. God thinks that about you too.”

And with that, he looks into my eyes and holds my gaze with those deep brown eyes of his. Then he reaches in the bag and gives me a dirty black shell, the majority of whose pieces are scattered over the bottom of the Atlantic. Yet, when I turn the shell over I see he is right. The center makes a perfect circle which circles back upon itself. The color is uniform and is as dark as ebony. And as I stare at that shell I suddenly see my son within it. They both have a few cracks and even some missing pieces. Suddenly I come to the realization that they are indeed both perfect just the way they are.

Sometimes it just takes a six-year old boy with autism to remind you that perfection is in the eye of the beholder and that it is all around us just waiting to be discovered.

Copyright 2008

Love Is…

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This is my favorite quote about what love is or what is is suppose to be.

I used to think it described B and I to a tee. Now is just seems as if we are dragging and pulling each other away from one another. This does not feel gentle at all. Our relationship feels like a boat being tossed to and fro while it is being battered by a gigantic storm.

How did this happen?

How can we stop it?

I love this man with all my heart but frankly I am not sure I like him all that much right now and he feels the same. In fact, last night we both said that never in our entire relationship have we felt this strong of a like/dislike set of feelings so intensely and so often. After 29 years we have lead each other gently to the other numerous times…what’s next?

I need to replace this old favorite with a new and improved LOVE IS quote. Ideas anyone?

Treat Me Like Your Next Wife…340 Days to Fix This

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It all started innocently enough. I had just put a load of laundry in the washer and wiped down the refrigerator while B was cleaning the counters in the kitchen. Then he moved to vacuuming the downstairs and I took the sheets he had folded into the upstairs closet. When I came downstairs I just casually mentioned that I would love to have another shelf in the linen closet because it would help keep things organized. This is something I have mentioned here and there for the past three years. And that is when the trouble began.

B immediately launched into an attack. “I already put in a new garbage disposal this weekend. You should be happy with that.”

“II am but you do have household responsibilities around here and you don’t just get to keep saying that you aren’t going to do them like you have been saying constantly for the past several years. You seem to have no trouble telling me what I need to do and I am still going to tell you what I would like to see done that I can’t do myself.”

Then B says that I needed to do home repairs like my BFF. “She does 90% of what needs to be done around the house. You should be able to do that too!”

OH NO….you really didn’t go THERE did you? Because if that is the way it goes…I lose…every time. You will always find someone more talented, competent, better with power tools, skinnier, funnier, prettier than me. There are millions of awesome women out there.

I then proceeded to say I shouldn’t have to do all those home repairs and that he has been neglecting this area including the bathroom light that he broke three years ago and has still not replaced.

“Well, you should have gotten the globe.”

“I did and it didn’t fit. Frankly, if you broke it it should be up to you to fix it not me!”

B then proceeded to tell me how he had vacuumed the downstairs this morning and did the dishes.

And then we went to church. And I seethed throughout the service and asked for clarity and forgiveness which just didn’t happen. Because here is the thing:

  1. Treat me like you would your new wife. If she asked you for a new shelf it would be done within the first hour. Treating me with all the love, kindness, respect and compassion you would show your new wife is the least you can and should do.
  2. Stop bringing up what you just did around the house. If you truly don’t resent it like you claim, then you would just do whatever it is you have chosen to do without me having to make a big deal about it. Stop making me feel like I have to bow down to you and be eternally grateful. Frankly, you chose to do our kid’s jobs and that was your choice so don’t be upset about it.
  3. Stop comparing me to other women. I have NEVER, EVER, NOT ONCE in our 29 years of marriage compared you to another man. Research shows that making comparisons like that help to kill a marriage. Please stop. It is a game I will NEVER be able to win.

Later B walked in the door with a new light. I cried because I was so happy that he actually listened to me and was thoughtful enough to do something that would make me happy.

ROUND TWO

And then he opened his mouth and said,”Well, I am doing this because you ordered me to.”

WHATTTTTTT?

No, I only mentioned that you had not replaced the light in three years. I didn’t order you do to anything.

Later when we could talk rationally, I was amazed at the truly different versions of this story each of us believed. How could two people in the same room have such dramatically opposed impressions of the same event? I have no clue. But I do know this…I love B and he loves me and somehow (I don’t know how) we will make it through this. We have 29 years behind us and 6 kids depending on it.

Music And Memories…341 Days To Fix This

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It’s only been less than a month since B dropped the D.I.V.O.R.C.E bombshell and I struggle daily. Sometimes I’m mad, sometimes glad for the changes that might result, sometimes I am scared and sometimes I feel strong and ready for change. I guess I am just feeling all the emotions that someone married 29 years and staring divorce in the eye might feel.

In an never ending list of things I am trying to do to remind myself to honor what we have/had and to remember the love we shared in the past as we try to get “back there”; I am listening to songs that remind me of where we have been and where we might go towards in the future. They are songs that give me hope, bring back memories and spark the kind of love that we had when we first met (most of them anyway). I would like to share them with you.

The first song, Thankful by Jennifer Hanson, is one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard about loving your spouse and being thankful for their presence in your life. We played this at our 25th Anniversary.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKuP_r7_BU4&list=PLRoCqzmCCwWhApWArifH9MACTaSG41Js3&index=5

Another song which speaks to me is Hold Me by K.T. Oslin whose lyrics convey the difficulties of a long time marriage

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqsYIAS1pdw

And then there is “OUR” song that takes me back to when we met in the 1980’s. When I hear it I see B in the purest of light, with a filter that eliminates any blemishes. I see a relationship that I believed would last forever with two people deeply in love with one another. Joe Cocker you are missed and so is that lovely passion of a new relationship that I remember with such happiness and pleasure.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Uhub5jm1LY

And “OUR” long ago songs for a romantic night…geez I can barely listen to them now without getting a tingle

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LM66X55cdSE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=br-Dy3puDoc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6QZn9xiuOE

Right now, another old favorite of mine has given me pause. We always used to sing the “Oh sweet darlin’ I give you the best of my love”  with love and passion but now the other more basic meaning of the song is making itself known to me. The song is Best of My Love by the Eagles.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaO-kgG7eCQ

And Love Will Keep Us Alive by The Eagles

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLTgzp4tp28

Get Here by Brenda Russell says what I just want to say to B. Get Here..get back to us. Get back to me.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkrdXGLkQtg

The song that reminds me of the important things and gives me hope. Thanks Miss Eden!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkrdXGLkQtg

Of course I do have my down moments and when I do my heart responds to Un-Break My Heart

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2Rch6WvPJE

And when I am just plain pissed and can’t see the forest through the trees (and mostly just because I love Beth Hart) So sultry, sexy and raw! I could easily have sex to this though B may not like it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K67Ew-ERxyA

And this is the song that I pray will be us having survived this crisis and our kids off on their own. Sure we will be old but I think we can still have a lot of kick in the sugar pot! Thanks Zac Brown Band for giving me something to hold on to.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yAuwqm0IjlA

A Seven…342 Days To Fix This

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So last night when we were taking our nightly walk I made the mistake of asking B how was I doing on the changes he had asked that I make. I figured I was at a 9.5 at the least. After all I have:

  • Not yelled in like 25 days
  • My house is practically ready for a photo shoot in House Beautiful minus the sink where a pile of dishes is stacked because B needs to put in a new garbage disposal.
  • We had explosive sex 5 times this week (confession, it was only explosive 4 out of 5 times but hey I’m 55 so I count that as a blessing) Unfortunately, it appears that “Bat Ears” radar picked up on the fact that we were “going at it” which may explain why he is walking around the house repeating the number “69” over and over again. Sigh. How will I explain this one to his teacher?
  • I am smiling and dancing like a Pharrell Williams Happy extra when my heart is really breaking.
  • I’ve lost ten pounds

Yes, I have worked myself into a brand new me and frankly I have been pretty impressed with her. For in the midst of heartbreak I am also feeling strong and optimistic about who I can be as middle age creeps up on me (at least a couple of hours a day anyway)

So after all this change and angst which I am working so hard at I was devastated when B replied, “Well, I would say a 7.” And that is when I realized we really may not stay together because, frankly, I am doing the best I can do. The best I will ever be able to do. I can do no more and I wouldn’t want to even if I could. And if that is worth only a 7 in B’s book then we are doomed. Because I am working so hard at making others happy that I am losing myself even further in the process. And losing myself is not something I am willing to do anymore. Not even for B, or my kids, or my church community. Because I know that in losing myself it only makes my relationships stay in a state of limbo and that in the end the relationship will never make up for what I have given up in order to keep things going. All I am doing is creating an illusion and building a house out of sand that will be swept away during the first big storm. And as luck would have it, this year is suppose to be a hell of an El Nino.

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Who I Really Want To Yell At…Upcoming IEP…Shoot Me Now

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So we have an IEP coming up. Any parent who has ever participated in an IEP meeting knows the special kind of hell that is reserved just for us.  It is a game for adults while the pawns are the kids. These are children whose lives can be changed for a lifetime if they only get the help that they so desperately need. Parents wrangle to get what their children are entitled to under the law while school districts try to keep their budgets in line or just disagree for purely reasons of precedence. And with an unfunded federal mandate to provide these services to those in need…well, it truly is a no win situation except in the simplest of cases.

This time when I walk into that room with principals, teachers, school district big-wigs, and lawyers I want to say something meaningful, poignant and straight to the heart. What I want to say is this:

“Every year parents of special needs children divorce. In fact, according to statistics provided by various sources it is estimated that 80-90% of couples whose children are considered special needs divorce; thereby disrupting the most vulnerable of families. These are families in need of two adults in a household to co-parent and provide support to one another while they manage hour-long tantrums, disruptive behaviors, and the close supervision that is often required of children with autism and other neurological conditions. Divorce is ugly. It changes the hearts of both children and adults. It makes kids feel unsafe and unsure about their future.

So why am I telling you this?

Unfortunately, our family may soon become one of these statistics. Although we are fighting to stay together I don’t know if we will win this battle. It is ironic because we have stayed together for 29 years with ABA therapists in our home 5 days a week. We have made it through home safety issues, seizures, special diets and numerous calls from the school. And we are tired. Worn out. And haven’t had time for one another for so long.

So what does this have to do with you and how can you help?

Do what is right by our children. Honor our requests instead of just setting them aside and ignoring them. We know our kids and often we know exactly what they need. Think in terms of the far off future and outcomes that will ensure that my child will one day be a tax paying American instead of someone who needs assistance their entire life.  Provide those things you would expect for your own children or grandchildren. Think beyond and outside of the box. Do what is moral, courageous and honorable. And do it now. Stop being intentionally adversarial and work from the belief that if we cooperate, children with special needs can and will reach their full potential; thereby benefitting this community and nation.

Finally, I am letting you know that while I do not blame you for our marital issues, I do want you to be mindful that the constant extra challenges such as IEP meetings add extra layers of stress on top a marriage that can cause it to eventually sink. Remember these IEP meetings are not a game and our family is not something to be manipulated and discarded without regard. We are people trying to do our best in situations that most of you cannot truly comprehend.

In conclusion I ask you to take to heart the words of James Rachel who said:

“Principles of justice are principles that rational, self-interested people would choose to govern the society in which they were going to live, provided that they did not know, at the time they chose the principles, exactly what their own place in society would be” “– James Rachel’s forward  to John Rawl’s  book, Two Concepts of Rules.

Consider This A Yell…344 Days To Fix This

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So consider this a yell. I know, according to internet etiquette I should use caps if I am yelling but somehow, as an English major, that just seems to look like I am using bigger letters rather than saying anything profound. Nix the caps.

So I was talking to my husband about going back to school to get into a profession that would pay well even though I am 55. And he said, “I think you are rushing into things.”

“Why,” I replied. “I need to be able to take care of myself if we divorce.”

“I misspoke,” B says. “I didn’t want a divorce, I just wanted things to change.”

(here come the caps) WHATTTTTTTTTT  THE HELLLLLLLLL !

“What do you mean you just wanted things to change. You told your brother you wanted a divorce.”

And so it went.

So I leave this conversation. And I am pissed. I’m sorry but be a man…say what you mean and mean what you say. You said D.I.V.O.R.C.E. You don’t just throw out that word because you want things to change.  If you want things to change you go to your spouse and talk about it. First. Before you mention divorce.

You have forever altered so many things about our relationship by just flinging that seven letter word about. My trust in our relationship is tattered. My belief in us is in shreds. I am fearful, vulnerable, and having to envision a life that is so different from what we have now. You have rocked my world and my trust. I am sorry that you are afraid of confrontation but that is not my problem. It is yours. Own it. And own the fact that you said D.I.V.O.R.C.E and don’t try to back pedal and make it seem more innocent than it was. Don’t try to sugar coat your words. You said them and you need to own them. And in the mean time I will live with them floating through my mind and over analyzing everything that is said as I try to piece together who and what I am and we are now post the mention of a D.I.V.O.R.C.E.

Yep you got my attention but in doing so in the manner that you did, you set into motion something bigger than the two of us. I hope that we will both be satisfied with the outcome.