With every day that passes, I am growing more and more aware of something, and I fear it is so horrifying to even think about, I'm actually scared to admit it.
I don't love my husband any more.
The ramifications of just this one sentence are immense, and so far I have been carrying this sentiment around, feeling its weight on my shoulders, crushing my head and spine until the other day I actually stopped what I was doing and screamed my head off. I could no longer stand to hear Him and Daughter yelling at each other for something so trivial and pointless that I can't even remember what it was. Just the sound of his voice, winding Daughter up, constantly pick, pick, picking at her until she was sobbing made me want to punch him or a wall or anything.
These days, it seems the instant you get a whiff of displeasure in a marriage, it's off to counselling or to the divorce courts to get rid or upgrade to Spouse 2.0. But not so long ago, not loving your husband was not something you whined about. I'm pretty sure couples used to just get on with it and possibly learn to tolerate each other, but secretly be a bit relieved when your spouse kicked the bucket.
I feel like that when he leaves the house. It's relief and release and freedom that I can be myself for a few hours while he is out at work. But then the dread kicks in when he's due back, and when he's home I find myself tiptoeing around, being a lesser, muted version of me; not saying what I really think, not watching what I really want to watch on the TV, and generally behaving a bit like a Stepford Wife, albeit with a fatter arse, saggier tits and terrible hair.
My parents divorced when I was about ten so my idea of marriage may be skewed, but I honestly thought that a marriage was not about subduing yourself, but about being championed by your spouse for being who you are. After all, they married you, yes? You know what your spouse is like; that's why you married them after all.
I am wondering whether so many marriages fail these days because people are getting married with a hope that they can change all the things they dislike about their spouse once the confetti settles. I walked into my marriage knowing my husband had problems with alcohol, knowing he was a lazy slob who'd happily leave clothes, pots, food cartons and empty bottles strewn all over the house like he was still a student and knowing he couldn't maintain an erection. He knew I suffered from manic depression, knew I favoured writing over hoovering and knew I had trouble with my sex drive. So these things weren't a surprise, as we'd lived together for five years before getting hitched. So, unlike marriages decades ago when the couples lived apart until after marriage, we didn't go into this blind.
So why did we get hitched? I'd say several of our issues would be deal breakers for many. I find myself thinking this several times a day.
Firstly - and this is a selfish one on my part - I wanted The Day. I wanted the dress, the party, the venue the dancing, the food and the family and friends all there. I know a marriage is more than just the day, but I haven't been married before (close, but no cigar).
But apart from that, I suppose the usual things apply - I wanted security for myself and Daughter. It seemed the logical next step after living together and that old adage that "you either get married or split up" wasn't far from the truth. Did we marry because we were too lazy and scared to go our separate ways? I worked it out, you know. About a year before we got engaged, I sat down and costed it out - were we financial better off together or apart?
As it turns out, the latter was true in my case. I could have cut my losses and moved out with my daughter, and we'd have been financially richer (the Tax Credits would have shot up and household bills and rent would have been much smaller).
I find myself wondering now why I didn't take that more courageous of options and split up. And I think the crux of the argument is I thought that Daughter would be better off with a "normal" family unit. She's surrounded by friends who have "Normal" too and I've fought for so long to make her life as stable and happy as I can, carrying around with me the stigma of "single parent" for so long, perhaps I've forgotten that one happy single parent might actually be better than two miserable ones.
So: what now?