There is lettering on the wall above my bed that reads ďAlways Kiss Me Goodnight.Ē It was there when we moved in and I thought it was charming. In my 21-year marriage, Iíd always thought that was a nice slogan to live by.
Now those words mock me. Honestly, I am still not entirely sure what happened or what I could have done differently, but soon after we moved our queen-sized bed under those letters, my husband stopped kissing me goodnight.
At first it was just indifference, a distance between us. Then conflict, borne of concern and manifested in anger. Then marriage counseling. Then a revelation in counseling that he didnít like me anymore. Then individual counseling. Then he moved down the hall. Then he moved out of the house.
Itís funny how the demise of a marriage sounds so uncomplicated on paper, when really it is the most complicated and complex thing in life, aside, possibly, from the death of a living being.
Realistically, with us both being in our forties, this has all the earmarks of a midlife crisis, but it is so much more than that. It is two decades of the bad times covering up any memory of the good times. It is two people trying to get what they need out of a relationship without having to give up any more of their pride or self-esteem. It is utterly and completely humiliating, searching, and sometimes begging, for the love that seemed to be there just the other day.
Itís going to bed alone at night and trying not to look at the lettering over the bed and envy the couple that put it there. Itís seething when you hear ads for e-harmony because you suspect that there may be better matches for both of you out there somewhere, but youíve invested over 20 years and raised three children with this match, and you just canít accept that it wonít work. Itís trying to understand what you did wrong, yet being outraged when your spouse tells you how they think youíve failed Ė because you believe you did everything you could and none of it worked.
It mocks me, that lettering on the wall. It mocks me as a woman alone, a woman who knows she is loved by many special people, but not by the one who promised to love, honor and cherish her until death do us part. It mocks me as a woman who has not been kissed goodnight in a long, long time.