Our Marriage Wasn’t A Failure – Separation Advice From A Beginner

Impromptu snowball fight, February 2001, during our engagement photoshoot. For the record, we called a truce.

No one has the right to say someone’s marriage was a failure.

Marriages don’t fail. They simply end. And you enter the next phase of your life.

After sixteen years of marriage, my husband and I have separated. He’s living in Winnipeg. And I’m staying in Arborg.

My husband used to be uptown nearly everyday in Arborg. Then – alakazam – he disappeared, like our beloved Icelandic Riverbank Fireworks. I’m sure people were wondering where he’s been all this time. Was he ill? Away on business? Tied up in the basement? So many questions.

And what should you say to someone who’s going through a separation? Knowing the comeback will be, “Thank you. It’s fine.” Or should you say anything at all? Isn’t it private? Why interfere?

But wait. You’re probably wondering “What happened?” Here’s a ten-second, honey glazed version of “What happened.”

Once upon a time, a long time ago, our marriage developed issues. And our marriage never quite recovered. And that, kids, is why my husband and I separated.

In March 2016, after I was in the epilepsy monitoring unit at the Health Science Centre, I wrote a post about my husband. And I meant every word. But we were having issues before my EMU experience, which resurfaced days after my discharge. We were still missing a vital element of our marriage. You can love a person to pieces, but without all the pieces a marriage will fall to pieces.

Though I’m in the beginning stages, I know a separation doesn’t have to be this big bad evil terror that tears a couple apart. Well, you’re apart, but please hear me out.

Once my husband accepted that I wanted a separation, we grew closer. We’d bake together. We had better conversations. I helped him look for apartments. You’re probably thinking, “Hallelujah, you made up.”

No. We weren’t magically fixed because we made brownies and a chocolate cake with cream cheese icing. We were relieved of the constant stress and anxiety. The tension was gone.

My husband said he wants me to be happy, even if that happiness is a future without him.

Christmas 2008,  at my parents’ cabin before my sisters decided to photobomb

It’s natural to be tempted to stop the derailment with majestical advice. I understand you mean well. But please don’t complicate our separation with strong opinions, cruel statements, Biblical verses, sprinkles, decals – you get the picture.

Please refrain from saying we didn’t try hard enough. Or we gave up. Because we didn’t wake up one Saturday and say, “Good morning. Want waffles and a separation?”

As for what to say? The answer is: “Something.” Even if it’s a simple, “Hi.” I’ll take “Hi.” It’s funny, because at first I felt ashamed. Now – because I can actually say the words, “My husband and I are separated,” I’m overwhelmed with support. Emails, texts, PMs, phone calls and coffee offers. From people making sure I’m not rocking in a corner. They keep me from not rocking in a corner. Because it’s too easy to curl into a ball and bawl.

I have good days and bad days. On a scale of ten? I’ve had my share of ones and threes. The week after I moved my husband’s remaining belongings into his apartment? I was less than zero – and I had to order in groceries.

But I sucked it up, because by golly, I want to reclaim my independence. My confidence. Last Saturday I repaired the dying vacuum, and then I struggled for an hour to successfully raise a 100-pound futon so I could rearrange my TV room. After, I sat on the futon, and I looked at the spotless carpet. Thinking, “Holy crap, I did this. And I’m bleeding and I still need to change the bedroom curtains.” Saturday was a nine.

Monday was a six, but at least I remembered to take out the garbage and bring the laundry up from the dryer.

Reading this, some may think I’m in a temporary euphoric state. I’ve fooled myself into a “I can make it after all *throw the hat in the air*” state of mind. But it’s a different mindset and failure isn’t on the menu.

And lastly, please don’t call our marriage a failure. Because failure means lack of success. My husband and I overcame our share of challenges. Hit after hit, we’d bounced back like Rocky when other couples would’ve long waved the white flag. But you can only go so many rounds. Seriously, there’s only twelve and we went overtime. Drained and exhausted, we stepped out of the ring, and we called a truce.

We didn’t fail. We chose to salvage our friendship before we became enemies. You gain nothing by collecting foes.

And out of our sixteen-year marriage and nearly nineteen-year relationship, I gained a best friend.

And that’s far from a failure.

On Wednesday night, I read this to my husband over the phone – and we both cried.

He said out of a ten, this was a ten.


2 thoughts on “Our Marriage Wasn’t A Failure – Separation Advice From A Beginner

  1. Wow tammy! Your strength and understanding is amazing. It is what will get you through the “1” days and start you on a path of more “9” days. Take time to take care of YOU.
    You go girl!


    • Thank you, Janet. I appreciate your encouragement. I hope there will be more “nines” than “ones”. And I’m really hoping for the odd “ten”.


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