25 Years Of Marriage – You Need to Know How He Feels

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Heather and I stood out in the driveway, our sons truck was all loaded up with the things he would need to start his own place to live. He was only moving four hours away, but it felt like it was going to be a million miles.

We walked slowly back into the house.  Our dog Kunu racing ahead of us as he had no idea how things were going to change.

Honestly, I had no idea how things were going to change myself, either. After 25 years of marriage, Heather and I were now officially empty nesters.

For months I was dreading this moment happening. I was picturing in my mind how it was going to go.

Our son would drive off, and we would let out a barbaric yawp! We were finally free!

No, that wasn’t going to happen.

We would run into the house to throw off our clothes and race around the house naked, finally free after years of restraint.

No, that wasn’t going to happen either.

To be honest, I could not picture anything good happening at all. Don’t get me wrong, I WANTED good things to happen. I wanted a barbaric yawp. Hell I would have taken a golf clap of an excellent job, I just could not see how that was possible.

When our son moved out…

For the last few months, I was trying to grasp what to do when our son moved out.

Heather and I had grown so far apart the last few years I did not know how we could bring it back together.

My only real plan?

I was going to go to the doctor’s office and get a check-up.

Does this sound like a weird plan? Probably. The reason this was my grand plan is because I was covered under Heather’s insurance.

In my mind, it wasn’t a matter of if Heather was going to ask for a divorce. Only a question of when.

If there was something wrong with me, I wanted to know about it now, she has better insurance than I do and I wouldn’t be able to afford it after a divorce.

That was it. That was my grand plan. Looking back now, I can see what a sad little plan it was.

We are not supposed to say how afraid we are

As males, we are not supposed to say how afraid we are about the coming time of being alone with our wives for the first time in 25 years.

We are not supposed to admit we feel broken and confused. We are not supposed to say how lost we are in any given situation, let alone one like this one.

We are supposed to stand tall and be supportive for the “the little woman” as she cries over her last baby leaving home.

The trouble for me is “my little woman” is a badass who will gladly kick my ass for calling her a “little woman.”

The truth of the matter is Heather doesn’t need me to defend her or take care of her. She has a job she is damn good at, and it pays a lot more than mine. She has been through tough times and rough patches in life and always managed to kick life’s ass and come out on top.

{Men that are reading this shaking their heads at me, thinking what kind of man is this guy. You can stop reading and find something else to do. Go punch a moose or something else manly.

You obviously don’t know the sheer terrifying joy of being married to a strong woman.

But I can tell you this when you are with a strong woman you know she is with you because she wants to be with you. You know she loves you. Otherwise, she would not be here at all.}

You know she loves you.

You still reading this? Good, you know what I am talking about then.

Heather and I had been together for 25 years at this point. Like most marriages, we have had good times and some bad times. Through it all, we had stayed together. 

In the bad times, we both used the kids as the reason we stayed together, and during the good times, well they were good times no reason to think of anything different.

Now all the kids were out of the house, what reason did she have to stay with me anymore? We stayed together because of the kids, the kids are now gone.

I’m bad at math, but in my mind, I knew what that added up to. No kids at home meant no marriage.

Heather and I had let ourselves grow apart of the last five years.

She had earned numerous promotions over the years and had to spend lots of time at work. When she wasn’t at work, she was working on her job from home. The joy of the internet is one can almost always be connected to their job. Lucky us.

She had three day weekends off Friday, Saturday and Sunday. My job gave me the glorious days off Tuesday and Wednesday.

She is an early riser; I preferred to stay up late.

Did we connect on vacations? Nope, we both sold 75% of our vacation time back to work. The real American family anymore, work became more important than connecting with our spouses.

Do you see the picture I am painting here? It was bleak and depressing. It felt hopeless. It felt lonely, and I did not see any way out of the mess we had put ourselves in.

I did not see any way out of the mess

As a couple, we were lost, and the glue that was still holding us together as a couple had just driven away. 25 years and this was how it was going to end? To paraphrase T.S Eliott, “not with a bang, but a whimper.”

Did you catch the earlier part, when I said we had put ourselves in? I hope so because this is where the story turns around. I want you to understand just how empty it felt for the two of us. And we had done it to ourselves.

It takes two people to make a marriage, and after 25 years, well it also took two people to let a marriage slide to close to the edge of oblivion.

What I am trying to tell you here is that you are not alone. We put so much into our jobs, our kids or friends and families that sometimes we take the person across from us for granted. They have been there for so long we just assume they will always be there, right?

We forget our spouses are supposed to be our best friends and confidant. We don’t think of them as having their own lives, their own doubts, and their own fears about life.
Because what I didn’t know was that Heather was having the same feelings as me.

Heather was feeling just as alone and isolated as I was. She thought that after our son left, I was going to pack my bags and leave.

just as alone and isolated

Unbeknownst to us, our kids were thinking the same thing. They were waiting for this dam of silence to break and for our marriage to fall apart. Our own kids had seen what we failed to see.  We weren’t hiding our pain very well from anyone except each other.

Are you out there thinking? I’m sure glad that isn’t me, my marriage is rock solid. If so I am so very happy for you. What we want, after all, is for our readers to be happy.

I guess that you are reading this and going: “Hey, this sounds way too familiar. Why does this guy know what is going on in my life?”

I know because Heather and I and damn near everyone we have talked to about this point in their lives; well they have said the same kinds of things. They feel disconnected from their spouses. Hell, they feel disconnected from themselves.

Our kids are such a massive part of our lives

Our kids are such a massive part of our lives that those last years of high school, we focus way too much on what they are doing and let our relationship with our spouse just slowly sink away.

For some couples, it gets to the point of no return, and divorce seems to be the only answer. Too much time has passed for one or both people involved to want to stay together any more.

As for Heather and I, well, I am glad to say it didn’t end for us. We are still together. Still figuring out who we are as individuals and as a couple.

We are still together because shortly after our son moved out, we sat down and really talked for the first time in years.

It seems kind of surreal when you have to sit across from the person you practically grew up with and ask each other, “Do you want to stay together or not?”

The answer for both of us was yes.  The decision has lead us down some paths I never thought we would be going down. This blog you are reading for one. And when we started working as a team again, we paid off 50,000 dollars worth of debt in six months.

All this in two years from two people that we’re afraid to tell each other what they really felt for years.

what part of life is easy

Has it been easy? Nope, but what part of life is. But I can tell you this, it has been worth it. To get to know Heather again as a person, well I can tell you there is no one I would rather spend my life laughing with than her.

So if your child is close to graduation and you feel yourself isolated from your spouse, do the best thing you can do before it is too late.

Talk to each other, honestly and openly about what you are feeling. Odds are she is feeling the same way as you. Continue your lives together, it can be the best part of the journey so far!

25 Years Of Marriage

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