Neither of us wanted this. It isn’t something you plan for, alongside family dinners and summer vacations.
There isn’t a little girl on the planet who grows up thinking about alimony, or daydreaming about child support.
Sure, it was always a possibility, but we expected it the way you’d expect a snowstorm in June. When I married you, it was for life.
But sh*t, as they say, does happen. And here we are: “irreconcilable differences.”
I didn’t cheat; you don’t have a drinking problem. Things just fell apart. And while we could spend the rest of our lives in a façade of forced happiness, neither of us wants that, either.
The fact is, the end has come and we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for real.
Some stories have endings that aren’t so sweet. But together, I think we can make ours a little less bitter.
Because the thing is, I’ve already lived that bitterness; I grew up in it. Instead of lullabies, I heard raging fights, barely concealed behind closed doors. In lieu of love and support, all I saw was passive aggression and malice.
Come hell or high water, my mother and father refused to come together, even for the sake of their children.
They could see no further than their own hurt and pain. My mom and dad weren’t parents, and they weren’t happy.
No matter how much I wanted it, I never really had a family again after their divorce.
So, believe me when I say, I do not take this separation lightly. Indeed, I’ll be damned before I suffer that same fate as my parents, or let our kids grow up the way I did.
As a child, I had no agency; now, I do.
And, thus, I offer you the following: my end-of-marriage vows. I don’t expect you to keep the same promises, but I hope you will.
We loved each other once, after all, and that has to count for something.
If it doesn’t, then there really is no hope for us, even at this crossroads at the end of the world. We may not like each other, but we have to respect each other.
You are the father of my children, and without you, my life would be incomplete.
That fact alone warrants some tact. Making a few promises is the least I can do when faced with the weight of determining our family’s future.
So, here we go…
I vow to never badmouth you in front of our family. Our kids will never hear an ill word against you.
When I get frustrated or sad or lonely, I will turn elsewhere for support. I won’t put that on our children.
If I have a problem, I will be direct with you, and only you. Our kids will not be messengers.
Though separate, we will still be parents. And that means working together, unified for our children’s sake.
I vow to let you move on. If happiness means you find someone other than myself, then so be it.
I will be cordial to this new woman in our lives, in our kids’ lives. There won’t be any petty jealousy or suspicious side glances.
And, if you decide to remarry, I’ll conveniently leave town that weekend to let you do so in peace.
I vow to make holidays as easy as possible. If you are in agreement, I propose we try hard not to split Thanksgiving, Christmas and birthdays into two.
I suggest we come together, just a few times a year, to remind our children we are still a family. We may be a broken family, but one with all the pieces still in tact.
In times of crisis, I vow to back you up. I will stand by you. If something goes wrong, I won’t turn on you simply for spite.
I will work with you to find a solution, ignoring the fact we couldn’t find one for our marriage.
I’ll listen to you, and brainstorm with you, and together, we will figure it out.
I vow that though I am no longer in love with you, I will always love you. If you get sick, I’ll hope you get better. If you fall on hard times, I’ll offer you my support.
The fact that we’re not married doesn’t mean we have no bond. We are still a family. And though it may be difficult at times, I will still treat you as such.
I don’t know if any of this is possible. There is so much I don’t know, and all I can’t tell you where our future lies.
But, I do know I want to be happy, and I want our children to be happy. And, really, I want the same for you.
So I won’t hang on to anger or resentment. I won’t look to the past with bitterness and regret. I will move forward.
And, if I can no longer do that by your side, then the least I can do is make the journey as easy as possible, from over here across the street.