Ten years ago I found a substitute method of coping with my problems. Husbands and fathers before me went to the garage, the bar, or some other wayward venue to escape household conflict. Unlike them, I went to work.
My wife used to irritate me about domestic issues like unfinished projects, household chores, and other stuff that was important. I would defend that my desire to wind down was important too. After a long day of work at my full time job, I resented opening the bank statements that reflected more bounced checks. We were spending more than we earned!
Our relationship was founded on two basic concepts. We wouldn’t fight about money and we never discussed the dreaded “d” word (divorce). Before we took our vows, we were warned that fifty percent of all marriages ended over financial disputes, and almost all marriages ended in divorce (the others end in death).
So knowing that there would be an impending fight over the bills, I had to make a decision.
“How will I fix this problem?” Fight about it or get another job? Earning additional income would theoretically resolve the problem. No need to fight! But solving the problem merely enabled my beloved instigator. Every time I deposited enough money in the account to cover a check that wifey wrote, she initiated another check writing spree.
I didn’t want to fight with her. But we had a problem. Every time an unpleasant conversation began, the need for accountability repelled us from one another. The first few times, she’d put the baby in the car and race down the driveway to avoid responsibility. It would terrify me. I wouldn’t give chase. Instead I retracted. “Yes, dear…” became my credo.
I thought that being a responsible husband and father relied on identifying problems and taking steps to resolve them. My father-in-law took me aside and whispered, “you’ve got to stop saying ‘yes, dear’…” I offered my loving explanation. I wanted it to work. I needed it to be right. I loved my family and would do anything for them…I thought.
I got the second job…and then a third. Though the more money I made, the more we spent. The only true result was that our time apart became more comfortable. We didn’t fight because our time together had diminished.
My hard work payed off. Through promotions and experience, I had the tools I needed to be a business owner an entrepreneur. We had an awesome management team, and we were churning out concepts that revolutionized the field. But my wife’s biggest contribution was to not interfere. She was the silent partner. And we appreciated it.
My management style was hands off. Our team was competent and didn’t require me to micromanage. I could be home on Sunday nights…with my wife. A new experience!
But we had nothing to talk about. Whatever we had in common had dimished over those first few years of our marriage. I had a lot to say. There was so much to do together. But there was no more motivation. I had too much energy and passion bottled up.
My wife was not interested in what I had to say. We couldn’t talk about current events or religion or politics. Our core values had changed. No one could tell because we didn’t speak of it.
So I turned to blogging. My career had shifted and the job demands required me to have a laptop and wifi. The need for technology was an invitation to use those tools. MySpace and Black Planet offered an opportunity to network. But blogging through the local news outlet’s website was exciting. Immediate gratification and feedback satisfied my needs.
I didn’t need to go to a bar. I didn’t need to build a man-cave or get a girlfriend on the side. I simply needed an audience. There was a world out there that had similar problems and concerns. I avoided chat rooms and instant messaging. There was no inappropriateness, but it didn’t matter. My wife resented the distraction. I could easily walk away from an argument because I could get support for my point of view by merely opening the laptop.
My marriage could have never survived smart phones, text messaging, or Facebook. Even when she created her own accounts to share my interest, her online behavior undermined my cyber-presence. Instead of positive support, she’d counter my blogs with negative comments and harassing behavior toward my subscribers. I asked her to stop. She didn’t. Boy, I could tell you some stories…
I never took my laptop to Starbucks to escape her. I’d sit right there on the couch in my living room with her while she watched Lifetime Television or Season One of American Idol.
She asked me to stop. I didn’t. I asked her to talk to me. She asked me to shut up. After some deliberation, I suggested that we discuss the option of divorce. The next day, she served me with papers.