She thought he was "the one." Some obvious relationship red flags indicated otherwise.
SEPTEMBER 2002, BRIDGEHAMPTON
Lying in our bed—the bed where we conceived our daughter; where we shared moments of passion, exhaustion, happiness, sadness; lying in our bed on the hard mattress I've always hated but chose anyway because my husband prefers a hard mattress.
Lying in our bed, this is what goes through my head before I utter the words that will usher in a new chapter between us: Do we really belong together? Will I ever find this so-called love I think I'm missing? What will happen to all our friends? Will they take sides? Who will I go to the movies with? How will we explain this to our daughter? Will the pain and confusion I feel ever go away? "I’m no longer thriving in this relationship," I say quietly but clearly. "I think we need to consider a separation." The words surround us and we bathe in them for a moment. Then he says, "I agree." I start to sob and then we make love with the desperation of two people who will soon be separated by war.
OCTOBER 2002, INFANCY
And so I begin my new life: the life of a separated person. Like any newborn, there is a lot of wailing in the beginning. I cry every day for a few weeks, and then every few days for a few months, and then every so often. Eventually, there are no more tears left. I will learn to live on my own again. But first I have to learn how to sleep through the night.
2005, THE AFTERMATH
I’'ve been asked by every man I've dated since my divorce why I got married in the first place, especially if I knew there were real problems. I've reduced the answer to the basics. Timing: I wanted to get married. Fear: I didn't have the character to call it off. Indecision: I could never truly decide by which criteria you choose your life partner.
Of course, one person will never have every single quality you desire. Here's what I've concluded. If there's one red flag, march on. If there are two or three red flags, proceed with caution. If there are more than 10 red flags—and I left many off my list— don't just stand there watching them wave in the wind. A red flag at the beach is a warning to stay out of the water, a warning to protect your life. Take care of your heart with the same vigilance. Otherwise, no matter how nice your bathing suit or how fit your body, you're going to drown. Take it from me. I've tasted the sand on the ocean floor.
Adapted from The Honeymoon’s Over: True Stories of Love, Marriage and Divorce, edited by Sally Wofford-Girand and Andrea Chapin, copyright 2007, Warner Books