As of today, my husband and I are officially and openly “separated,” marital-status wise (not location-wise; we still coexist happily). This may be news to many of you, but it has been our status quo for quite a while.
Matt and I are very close friends. Family, really. I’ve known him for more than half my life, and there is no one I trust more, no one I’d rather live with, no one who knows me better. We met when we were eighteen, married when we were twenty-eight. Now we’re forty-one, and we’ve both pretty much finally (belatedly, and with each other’s help) figured out who we are and what we want.
Among other things, we’ve figured out that I’m gay*. There are various factors in my mental health and assorted societal pressures that muddied those waters for a long time, but the healthier I’ve become, the clearer it has become. For a while it was sort of a moot point, as neither my husband nor I had the emotional bandwidth to even consider pursuing a romantic relationship with anyone. We were (and are) genuinely happy together, even with what some would consider a large piece missing from our relationship. Sometimes an intimate friendship/partnership is fulfilling enough for both parties in a marriage. It has been for me, for a long time. But I have always believed that once Matt had enough time off from caring for me and the children to pursue it, he would make a splendid romantic partner for someone who could return those feelings. I am now stable enough to give him that opportunity.
By a stroke of fate or fortune, our home happens to be structured in such a way that two families could live here, each in its own space. So even if Matt should marry again, there is no compelling reason for me to change my address. My plan is to continue living here and contributing to the family until our daughters are grown, unless a more typical “non-custodial parent” visiting schedule starts to make more sense to the kids later on. I will remain a part of the family regardless. There is no animosity in this “breakup.” In fact, from our point of view, it isn’t a breakup at all. We still watch TV together every night, laugh at each other’s jokes, pile on the couch with the girls to cuddle. This is only a drastic change to those on the outside of it.
To those for whom this apparent parting causes sorrow: I am truly sorry. If your view of my marriage as “traditional” was important to your view of the world, to your evaluation of love and relationships in general, this must come as a terrible disappointment. It is our fear of those reactions from friends and family, honestly, that have delayed our transition this long. We were originally planning to announce to family last Thanksgiving, but… then November happened. Too many people I loved were already reeling.
Now that those we care about have had some time to adjust to other paradigm shifts, it’s time for us to live our lives more openly. I want Matt to be able to pursue romance without looking as though he’s dishonoring me, and for us to use whatever terms for our relationship make the most sense (at the moment “co-parent” seems the most accurate). We are not each other’s romantic happily-ever-after, but nor were we a mistake. We were two broken people who found and mended each other. We would not be where we are, as happy as we are, if we had not lived together these thirteen years and made two extraordinary children.
Matt will always have the distinction of being my oldest, truest friend. We will be here for each other through sickness and health and into old age – that part of our vows I will always honor, and anyone new who comes into our family will understand that.
If you have any other questions I am, as always, an open book.
*If you’re into detailed labels, let’s go with “biromantic gray-asexual lesbian.”