Thursday, 25 April 2013

I Wish I Had Learned Sooner That...

It's another one of Katie's topic suggestion cards; I wish I had learned sooner... She may not like the outcome but here goes. Just a warning. This entry expresses a bit of anger.

I wish I had learned sooner that being happy was more important than being married. I was married for 32 years, many of them unhappy years. I left my wife for the first time in the year 2000. It was the start of a New Year and a New Millennium. It was going to be the start of a new life. Yet I went back, reconciling with her, putting my happiness aside for what I thought were the needs of my children, my family. I was wrong. I was unhappy and my unhappiness spread like a virulent virus around to my children. My wife was unhappy and she spread that disease too.

It wasn't always like that. When we first got married we were happy, mostly. It was a challenge for me. I saw her as coming from a perfect family with sound ideals and strong ties. It was something I wanted for myself and my children. She was able to win almost every argument with a form of circular discourse, never really addressing my point of view but simply asserting hers. I asked myself if I wanted to be right, or married. Even then I realized I could not have both.

Over the years I put my happiness aside, telling myself that I should appreciate my family, love my wife and children, care for them. I did what I could to be momentarily happy, what I could to find joy. Yet underneath it all, I was unhappy, mostly in my marriage. But I said to myself, it is better to be married than happy. Even then I realized I could not have both, at least not in that marriage.

Then I got my first sailboat. I found a place where I was happy, a domain where the things I wanted actually mattered, where clutter and crap and corruption could be swept away and life could be good. I started going to the boat each and every Sunday after church, and for trips whenever I could. She complained and said I had to stop spending so much time on the boat and start spending time at home. I had a family and what she wanted for it came first, before my happiness. So I decided to stop doing what made me happy and to do what made her happy, or at least made her feel in control. After all, wasn't that the right thing to do, to put aside my happiness for the happiness of my wife and children?

Then I started working out of town, away from home. I found I was happier when I was away than when I was at home. She was too, happier with me not in the home. She pushed aside all my possessions and belongings and created a house where she was happy, a home where I was irrelevant. She was happy: I was absent. She was comfortable; I was out but still married, with no real home and no real happiness.

One day I realized that I would never be happy living in those conditions, under that rule. I realized that happiness had its own price. I could be happy, but not married to her. I could have an interesting life, a home where I counted, a place that felt like mine, but not while I was in that marriage.

I wish I had learned sooner that it is better to be happy than to be married.


  1. Do you think it's possible to have both? For the rest of us, I mean. ~Kate

  2. I think it is not only possible, but wonderful, to have both. Look at Grandpa and Grandma. Ask them how they do it. I think you will find that it takes accommodation, compromise and respect on both sides.

  3. Did you and your wife ever go for marriage councelling?

  4. We went to counselling many times.

  5. A life long commitment must of been very important to you to have stay married for 32 years and never cheated. It must have been so important to you that it defined who you were. It was so important that it brought you joy in spite of how unhappy you were.

    Could all of this have been a bad misunderstanding?

    I was told that it is much easier for a wife to love her husband than to respect him; and it is much easier for a husband to respect his wife than to love her. This is probably why the Bible, I think Paul, said: husbands love your wifes, and wifes respect your husbands. Centre Street Church in Calgary had a series of 4 sermons on the topic of "Love and Respect" by Dr. Henry Schorr, it was very enlightening. I heard it maybe 7 years ago; they may still have it on CD in their Appleseed Resource Centre store or library if you are interested. My hope for you is that you would find joy and happiness. Take care.

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  7. Hi Carla. I figured that was you.

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