Not quite out of my teens when I married a widower. The church we both attended had introduced us as he needed a sitter for his three adorable children. He was a good man still grieving the loss of his wife, but stoically pushing on in his life for the sake of his two little girls and toddler boy.
I was a virgin bride. I knew nothing of love let alone relations between husband and wife. My only references were from the television shows of Donna Reed, Father Knows Best, the Beaver… My only reference for intimate relations was a little booklet he gave me when he discovered I was a virgin, the Kama Sutra.
I could cook, clean and care for the children all right. They were clean, dressed and immaculately waiting by the door, as was I, when he came home from work. He did everything right. He took care of us and I took care of the children, but I did not know how to take care of him. Not that he asked. He in is bereavement, me in my lack of experience and ignorance.
I grew up abandoned by both parents. Spent some years with grandparents who never spoke and kept to themselves in separate bedrooms. Then I lived in a foster home with a widowed woman and her son till I was on my own at 17. Other than what I saw on television regarding relationships, I had no prior experience in real life.
My lack of experience had a lot to do with the failure of our marriage. My communication skills were off the cuff, on the fly. His was buried in the responsibilities of work and providing for us, and unbeknownst to me at the time his grief.
In the third year of our marriage we had a son after loosing two babies. All I had ever wanted from a very early age was children. Now we had four and I was a happy camper. He was born just a week after my birthday, the greatest birthday present I have ever received.
He was a fun addition to our burgeoning family. Full of life and vivacious. He walked at ten months and was running at a year taking a three wheeler around corners in the house on two wheels. God Bless what a joy he was for us all…
That joy ended after two years. A lot happened in between and actually before. Years are kind when they allow distance and time to put things in perspective. Actually we were separated when I conceived our son. An incident shattered my naive existence months before the separation when my husband was reunited with one of his best friends from his previous marriage.
We were all having a breakfast out at a little diner, and she was the waitress. She was recently divorced and making a new life for herself in the same town. There was a palpable intimate look that passed between them when they saw one another. Shock, sadness, joy, excitement, all the possible feelings that arise when reuniting with an old friend.
I saw it. I felt the shock of it. It was as if someone or thing had hit me in the chest. It was a brand new experience for me and I was left on shaky grounds. Of course he wanted to see her again and catch up on old times especially with what had transpired for both since the death of his wife and our marriage. Understanding and seeing the need, I agreed.
Long story short, they had an open affair that prompted our separation. It ended, we reconciled, I got pregnant, we moved. It changed our marriage though. I woke up to a larger view of relationships. When picking him up one morning while she was preparing him breakfast, she asked, “how do you like your eggs?” As he described how he liked them, it hit me that in the three years of our marriage, I had never asked him.
I worked harder to expand my awareness of us, asking for date nights, and time that did not revolve solely around the children. I pushed, when perhaps he was not yet ready. Perhaps he genuinely was not really in love with me. I certainly didn’t really know what love is, until I saw that look of shared intimacy again. He did fall in love with some one else.
We had not called it quits yet but I saw him with the other woman at a store we all frequented. Together they were shopping, she helping him buy a sweater. Another stab to the heart, that intimate way two in love relate, that did not exist in our relationship. I think I was just always the babysitter after all and that was painful to see, feel, and accept.
We amicably separated and divorced. He remarried days after I signed the papers and they’ve been together ever since. Forty plus years.