During drinks with a buddy last night I learned that he and his wife are divorcing. As we talked through how their relationship had degraded to the point that it had, the mistakes seemed obvious. Yet, it was not obvious as it was happening, so it is a tale worth telling… as a lesson for others.
The first thing to point out is that not everything was bad. There were things they did really well, which likely hid some of the negative elements of the relationship. They were, and are, good parents to theirs kids. They also had fun when they were together in a group; we attended many parties and dinners with them and they got along well when they were out (I am positive this was not an act).
There were some trends that, in retrospects were warning signs. Firstly, they lived their non-parenting lives really separately. This is, of course, not always a problem. They both acknowledged that it was health that they had their own circles of friends and own hobbies which they pursued independently. But, as friends, we certainly noticed that their lives seemed so separate that theory hardly knew what the other was up to. I think there is such a thing as too many uncommon interests and not enough common ones.
Secondly, over time, they began to have much more fun separately than together. While I certainly find it fun to get out of the house and have drinks with the guys, I also enjoy a date or activities with my wife. They did the couple things they had to do – parenting, home renos…, but they were not fun things. All of their fun activities seemed reserved for others.
Thirdly, sex. Sex is important. I had good one-on-one relationships with each of them and knew that (i) they both really liked sex and (ii) they were not having it. In situations like this, normally something has to give. Interestingly, it was initially her to was not really interested in having much sex in the relationship and she gave him a fair bit of scope to have his needs met in a kind of “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. I am not a fan of this policy in most instances and it didn’t work here. When she started to feel more sexual, she obviously had some built up resentment toward his wandering, and she started to wander a bit too.
Finally, and I believe most critically, when they (her in particular) started to dream about what her future would be, she only saw paths that did not include him. Whenever I would speak with her about things she really wanted to do, they would involve her kids and her friends and never him.
They never dreamed together. As a result, it seems they will be apart.