"Is he having an affair? Why else would he ask for a separation?"
This extremely productive comment came courtesy of my mother, only a day or two after my husband had asked for a trial separation. How I'm Saving My Marriage
She meant well, but her comment stuck with me, and I couldn't help but think of that female coworker he seemed to hang out with regularly. It didn't help that, only a few days after The Separation Talk, he'd left for a weekend snowboarding trip with his work buddies, a group that included her. The timing was pretty terrible.
"He's not having an affair," said my shrink. "If he's willing to see a couples therapist, he doesn't have anything to hide." I pulled at the threads on her couch. I stared at my knees. I thought about it. It made sense.
But she was everything I wasn't. Someone he could nerd out with over web development. Someone who was up for bar hopping and karaoke every damn night of the week. Someone who actually wanted to go snowboarding.
Of course, in the weeks that followed, I learned that I could screw up my marriage all by myself, without the help of an alleged other woman. We both could. Because there was no other woman. Rather, we'd just stopped being loving spouses.
By the time my husband suggested separating, I had reached an epiphany. Our marriage was worth saving, I'd decided, and I was willing to do anything it took. Am I Doomed To Get A Divorce?
Unfortunately, Michael hadn't come to that same conclusion.
He kept flip-flopping. "I'm not going to leave you," he'd assure me over dinner at a nice restaurant, making it sound as if I was in the grip of some neurotic delusion, rather than suffering the after-effects of his separation suggestion. Then, the next night, out of the blue, over wine and takeout Chinese: “I don’t think we’re a good match for each other. I just don’t know…”
I'd crumble. I'd sob. He'd waver. He'd assure me we were okay. We'd have desperate, tearful, phlegmy sex. I'd feel used.
I'd feel confused.
I'd feel exhausted.
Looking back on that time, Michael insists he did want to save our marriage, "but needed to know that you wanted to as well."