We're holding hands more than we ever have. It's familiar
but new and exciting. We often have sleepovers at my place and, in the blackness
of night, as the ceiling fan sighs a gentle tune, I tangle my legs in his.
He winks at me sometimes in a serious way and I giggle
stupidly because I've never been the kinda gal that likes to be winked at in
any manner, let alone seriously, but I know what's behind the wink. He knows me
so well, and is aware I'm not the kinda gal that likes to be winked at, so he does
it to make me laugh but also because he wants to be the kinda guy that winks at
his girl in a serious way and so what the hell? I can dig it.
I see flashes of the guy I divorced. The one who I decided I
could no longer live with more than a year ago, but I see a whole lot more of
the man he became during our divorce—someone consciously choosing to be
different, better, wiser.
Now, when I see that other guy emerging, I try to react in
ways that will defuse instead of ignite. Instead of working against him, as I
did when we were married, I work with him as a teammate, someone who recognizes
my partner's weaknesses and wants to help him overcome them instead of
highlighting his bad points in my desire to win the argument, as I would have
previously. The difference within our relationship is astounding.
We realized that everything isn't going to be magically better this time around. We will inevitably still fight the same old fights; we just need to do it better, be wiser, let things slide and get on with the business of living. We know the alternative.
That's not to say he's the one that needs to do all the
changing. If anything, he's a better person than I. He puts up with me, doesn't
he? I struggle with emotional vulnerability. I have spent 38 years building up
walls and pushing away people, including him. I feel safest relying on no one
but myself so it's difficult to let him see my softer side, if it even exists.
If he does slip up, if he does behave badly—and he has—I
do my best not to hold it against him like I used to. I let it go because I
know he's trying. He appears to be affording me the same courtesy. Instead of opponents, we are now teammates.
That doesn't mean everything is sunshine and rainbows. When
we first started hanging out with each other after a year of separation and
divorce, we were on our best behavior. We were so high on the initial buzz of
being together again that when old issues arose within the new relationship, we
were terribly disappointed, thinking it meant we still sucked as a couple. We
almost let it ruin us a couple times—nearly gave up—until we realized that
everything isn't going to be magically better this time around. We will
inevitably still fight the same old fights, we just need to do it better, be
wiser, let things slide and get on with the business of living. We know the
alternative. Spent the past year living the lonely, frightening, soul-crushing alternative.
We are no longer 'separating, together,' as the title of
this column suggests. The story of our separation has been told. This is the last chapter, which means this
column has reached its natural conclusion. We now find ourselves divorced and
dating each other—a place I find very comfortable, maybe even more comfortable
than I ever found marriage. We are working together to define a new
relationship that works for both of us. Creating parameters based on what feels
right and good for us instead of automatically stumbling down a path society
has deemed the right or appropriate way to share your life with someone. Mom.me
has asked that we continue to chronicle our relationship journey with videos
and we have agreed. We hope you'll join us when He Said/She Said debuts right here
I don't know what the future holds for us. If I've learned
anything this past year, it's that happily-ever-afters don't exist. Yes, life is
what we make of it and we should try our hardest but sometimes things happen
that are beyond our control. The people we love inevitably change and their
personal decisions are not within our control whether together for 6 months
or 50 years. Love your hardest, but sometimes letting go is necessary. Who
knows what will happen? Look at us.
We're taking things a day at a time and trying to enjoy the
beautiful little family we have worked hard to create since we met one hot
August night in Salt Lake City ten years ago.
Editor's Note: Stand by for Serge and Monica's new video series "He Said/She Said" where we'll follow them through their post-divorce life.