My wife, has decided to move out sometime in September.
I will stay in our house with our children.
She plans to stay very close, so that she can be actively involved in raising the children.
We’ve been married for over 15 years, we’ve been together since high school. We have two children: girl 10, boy 7.
We are demolishing a marriage.
We live in a house that is almost 100 years old and we’ve had to do a lot of renovation on it. It didn’t take long to discover I was much better at the demolishing than the constructing. When you’re living in it and trying to preserve as much of the original materials as possible not to mention not compromise the structural integrity — joists, beams, plumbing electricity (oh and not get detoured to the emergency ward) — demolition is a painstaking, arduous and exhausting process.
We are trying to take apart our marriage, yet preserve as much of the original, for the sake of functional integrity, as possible. After all the kids will keep us still living in this relationship until… well forever really. It is exhausting and arduos and at times painstaking and delicate work even if executed with the psychological equivalent of pry bars and sawz-alls.
And we could easily be diverted to the emergency ward. We’ve come pretty damn close already.
Man, this is an exacting, daunting word. It is so delicate and demure in its sound — a multitude of crisp syllables in such a confined space. But it is so unassailably demanding. Truth, honesty, grounded in principle — that’s all there. It seems like it’s a word with a suffix, the “ity” but I can’t figure out how it could be reduced to a root and still keep its integrity.
I’m not certain at all what “fidelity” means in our context. We aren’t breaking up because of an infidelity. My wife’s decision has a lot to do with her sense of fidelity, of being true to herself. But I hope that’s as much as I write about her feelings in this blog. This is not to be a slag-your-partner fest.
But when I’m delving into the bile, the past, the anger, the hurt. When I can feel the bitterness, the sense of betrayal demanding satisfaction, clenching muscles into knots. When I’m lost in blasted waste of an emotional no-man’s-land that use to be our relationship where nothing is familiar, there are no landmarks left to be certain of. At these moments I say the word in my head — fidelity. And it seems to help a bit.
Fidelity has become a sort of verbal talisman. Like a rosary, or a cross around your neck — a touch and my mind is taken back to something, something important and quietly demanding.
Of course it doesn’t instantly bring me back to the path of all that is saintly and good. I want to punch a hole in the wall and often enough I try (still avoided the emergency room for now) but fidelity does make me pause. Fidelity gives me a moment of breath. Fidelity reminds me how important and delicate the demolition is.
I think of our family as being a home. And our family is a huge home not just including the four people who typically live under our roof. But the home that we must profoundly change encompasses grandparents and in-laws, and distant god parents, even co-workers and passing acquaintences. It has its own museum, libraries, archives, offices and a very complicated infrastructure for sustenance and shelter.
With our marriage breaking up, this house has areas that must now be demolished so that new structures can be built. All this huge work must be done while the house continues to shelter and sustain. While my children live in this house and rely on it so utterly.
How high the stakes are.
How delicate this job is. How dangerous.
How easy it is to forget all of that when you’re swinging the sledgehammer around.
Fidelity, I hope, will continue to remind me of all of this.