#17: It takes two…

[image credit: Richard Walker on Flickr]

I’m beginning to realise that my two-year Strexit strategy to stay in the closet while single-handedly dismantling my marriage may not be possible. As the politicians are discovering with Article 50, these things require detailed negotiation with the other involved parties.

Aside from my daughter, my wife is really the only other person who matters in this process, and I am slowly coming around to the idea that I won’t know how to get through this without her help and guidance — however much that may hurt her.

I suppose this is one of the many ways I am different — more emotionally mature and capable — than my father, whose idea of preparing my mother for divorce was to go shopping with her for new carpets and a three piece suite, before having his solicitor send her divorce papers without discussion or confrontation. I recognise that my life partner (to date) needs to be involved in the decision to separate.

There are times when I’d like to rip the proverbial plaster off, but what no one outside my marriage can see is that there are still many moments of genuine tenderness and laughter. My wife and I may not have a sexual relationship any more (that well dried up over a year ago at my instigation), but we are best mates and have a network of shared interests and friends. We also both have quite stressful jobs, so we value the peace that comes with living comfortably together.

At 17, our daughter is hardly ever home, and when she is, it is to study for exams or to watch Youtubers in her bedroom. Occasionally we will pause whichever DVD boxset we are enjoying together to listen for movement, or I will wander upstairs just to see if she is home, because I can’t remember whether she went out or not. While I obviously miss my little girl needing to be tucked in at night, or sharing my cornflakes in bed, or coming to daddy for a cuddle, her independence and maturity delight as much as they scare me.

The headstrong, beautiful young woman she is becoming constantly validates the deal I made with myself 18 years ago to be the best father I could be. By contrast, the sacrifice I have made by being that guy, instead of the gay man I could have been, is infinitesimally small.

Her gradual departure from us, which began at 14, to becoming her own person has been almost imperceptible. By degrees, we are becoming empty-nesters, comfortable in each others’ company without distraction, apart from my wife playing Candy Crush while I read a book, but always in the same room and usually in silence. But our daughter’s blossoming is also a reminder every day that the time is running out. I am aware that when the break comes, we will both be utterly alone in the world, which does make me worry for her (not for me — this is as self-inflicted as a hangover, so I hold no sympathy for myself). I only hope my wife can, in time, cherish and celebrate the time we had together, instead of focusing on the void that divorce will leave in her life.

I only get one shot at it: the timing must be right, the planning needs to be flawless and the damage to everyone as limited as I can make it. It mustn’t wreck my daughter’s education, affect my wife’s material comfort, or leave myself destitute. After all, I can’t change my mind once that genie is out of the bottle!

And now I understand that the planning of this procedure is a task for both of us.

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Up next - #18: Going under the knife