People think being married is the ultimate goal that women can have, but is it? What happens when one partner is quite absent, especially as a parent?
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on July 5, 2019. It has since been updated.
Marriages are made in heaven, but what are heartbreak and divorce made in? When I was a child I thought my parents were the happiest, but the older I got I realized that they worked really hard at it. More often than not, they were not successful and ended up arguing. Despite their unhappiness and disenchantment with each other, they thought that getting married was something that everyone should do at least once.
The society had expected them to get married after they dated for a year, and those are the values they passed on to me. So, I too got married after dating for 2.5 years, but a year into the marriage things became shaky. The romantic man I fell for didn't exist anymore. There were no sweet goodnights and good mornings or flowers and chocolate for no reason. It was a chore for him to even remember our anniversary, let alone celebrate Valentine's Day. Most weekends were spent at home, with me doing the chores and him drinking beer on the sofa.
Eventually, we had a child and all the housework just fell on me. Perhaps, it is our society that forces men to not show feelings, that made him this way. They are told that showing feelings is unmanly, which might have stopped him from being a loving and caring father and husband. He seemed just as trapped in the role of the breadwinner as I was in my domestic one. When I couldn't take it anymore, I chose to separate from him. No, he wasn't bad to me, but he wasn't good either. We just were.
Between changing diapers, cooking, and raising our child, in which he had no interest, the long-dwindling love just fizzled out. Divorce is not something to be ashamed about, forcing yourself into a bad marriage is. The treatment I received for walking out wasn't as sympathetic as what women who were left received. However, I chose to raise my child on my own.
The turning point for me was when he went on a work trip and my daughter and I were home for a week. I did not miss my husband. I had far less work at home to do and I was less tired. Having no expectations and harboring no anger for the person who is not there was liberating for me. If he was, I hoped that he would wash the dishes, do the laundry, and fold the clothes, so that I could at least shower when I wanted to. There was no help coming, and those who say that there are 24 hours for everyone they should realize that if you have a nanny or a maid, your life is different. If you don't have to be at work, take care of your baby, and domestic chores, your 24 hours are a lot different than mine.
I thought and thought for months before making the decision. My ex-husband and I were no longer compatible. We evolved at different speeds. While I became a mother and a wife, he wanted to be stuck at being a man in command of his own time. The single life suited him more, so I freed him, and myself.
All the resentment I was living with is now gone. We are friendly and have different lives. He spends more time with his daughter now than he did when we were married. We alternate between us when attending important moments of her life, so that both of us have our lives and jobs. He doesn't have to be the sole breadwinner anymore, and I don't have to depend on anyone.
Suddenly, being in control of all aspects of my life was equal parts intimidating and freeing. However, the fear wore down eventually, and I am more peaceful than before. Being a single mom is not all rosy, it is hard and backbreaking, but I only have to care for my child and myself now. Nobody else.