Things I Wish I Could Tell The Man I Thought I Would Grow Old With
The early days of a wondrous new relationship tend to be filled with glee and magic–and incomparable hope. Ecstatic and exhilarated, we knit together futures we’re certain will unfold. We close the door to doubt and open our arms wide to love, opportunity, and the concept of together forever. And in that space, time dissolves, because we have all we need of it in the world.
So when the strength of a bond frays or a relationship ends tragically–death, divorce, infidelity–we shuffle forward in the dark, trying to recapture lost time, feeling the weight of regret and dashed chances. There are so many things we haven’t experienced together yet, we think. There are so many things left unsaid.
I had an inkling that my marriage was doomed to fail the moment I begged for marble countertops and ended up with brown granite instead. By then, however, we had tied the knot and I was three months pregnant with our child. An architect by trade, my husband claimed to know it all, from the interior structure of our to-be-remodeled home to the inner workings of my heart. As an alpha female who wasn’t used to yielding to someone else when it came to life’s decision, both big and small, the clashes between us grew so vast that they ultimately became as irreparable as a severed bridge. I was left bitter and resentful when I renounced trying to steer the ship. He, an introvert, was left bewildered and cold by the innate differences in our personalities.
After time partially healed the pain caused by our separation, those things I left unsaid bubbled to the surface with such urgency I could hardly put down my pen. If you, too, are going through a divorce or a separation, know that it’s never too late to speak from that place he or she once touched: your heart.
You expressed your love in ways that took me time to understand.
Quiet and seemingly removed, my husband demonstrated that love can be given in silence and adoration in stillness; it is the sheer presence that counts.
I learned life’s greatest lessons from you.
Without my husband’s incredible influence of me, I would still be searching for someone to save me. He taught me that it is I–and only I–who can save myself.
Love knows no boundaries.
Geographically, on paper, and to our friends and family, we may be apart. But true love, even if it doesn’t function in the traditional sense, persists. Such fondness doesn’t vanish; it only shifts.
Through our separation, I’ve realized that to eliminate “tomorrow” from one’s vocabulary is to live life to the fullest. Seize what you have today, and love with all of your might–for nothing but a calendar can guarantee tomorrow.
I adored the child inside of you.
So focused on his career and his role as a father, my husband wasn’t inclined to let loose often. But when he did, such vividness and humor and cheer emerged. He might have been embarrassed when this side came out, but I relished every minute of it.
There was such grace in your small gestures.
From making me coffee in the morning to ensuring I had enough books beside my bed when ill, my husband did a number of little things to elate me, comfort me, and demonstrate his love for me. Some of his kindnesses were left unacknowledged, and yet they never went unnoticed.
You’re still as attractive as the day I met you.
Time can ravish us, time can change us. But the beauty we see in our former partners–that essence; that light–never fades.
You know me better than anyone else.
There are few greater comforts than knowing that your love—whether he or she is part of your past or remains in your presence—knows and adores you through and through. My husband knew my secrets, my passions, my pet peeves, my moods. And there is tremendous beauty in realizing that, at times, no explanation is needed. You are who you are, he sometimes seemed to say in silence, and that is more than enough.
I should have complimented you more often.
An athlete, a wordsmith, a designer, a fabulous father, my husband possesses myriad gifts that I should have praised more often. Were I to go back in time, I would have pointed out with greater frequency the talents of his that I so deeply admired.
I should have respected the way you argued.
While I raged, he disengaged—a pulling away that found me madder and more frustrated. I cannot change who I am, but going forward, I can temper my ire—and understand that we all navigate disputes differently.
I will cherish our memories together for life.
The first time I saw him. Christmas mornings with our daughter. Ice-skating at Lake Tahoe. Dining at five-star restaurants around the world. Bumping hips in the kitchen as we cooked. Laughing over a good movie, spooning in bed, toasting our glasses. All of these, and more, I will reflect back upon with a bittersweet mix of joy and nostalgia, always holding them near and dear to my heart.
When we were young, I thought my husband and I were indestructible. Despite our differences of opinion over innumerable issues. I apologize for the errors I made, the words I can’t undo, the pain I created. I want to tell him that I refuse to admit defeat, but I do accept that our time together has run its course; that I will always cheer him on from the sidelines. And from there, I say, thank you. You were my gift, my partner, my best friend, my goodbye.
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