Over the past six months, my husband Cory and I have been slowly separating from each other. This is not what we thought it was or what we called our transformation, at first—”separation.” I’ve said for a very long time that I would never get divorced, and even though that isn’t what’s happening technically, it is essentially the same thing without the legal and financial aspects. Cory and I are officially (though not legally) separating.
What this means, in practical terms, is that I am getting my own apartment. We are very fortunate to be able to afford this on a single income, since I am a stay-at-home mom. And on that note, I will continue to be a stay-at-home mom—I’ll just have a short commute, now! I’ve come up with a schedule that still gives us a lot of time together as a family, as well as individual time with the kids.
Our separation also means that Cory and I have finally removed all of the romantic forms of affection from our relationship. No more kissing, cuddling, hand-holding, or anything else that either of us wouldn’t do with a platonic friend.
How did we get here? Sometimes, I still feel shocked by how much has changed in just the past six months.
Everything started with the decision to open our marriage and become polyamorous. When we started that, we literally said the words, “This is not the beginning of the end for our marriage.” We said that we were rock solid, and you know what? We actually, truly were! But as it turns out, there are things that can separate even solid rock. Like an earthquake, for example.
When we opened our marriage, we had a lot of struggles. While we both embraced the idea very quickly as a theory, it was a harder emotional transition than we expected, in practice. Getting through those challenges was part of what pushed us to begin finding ourselves as individuals, outside of the “us” we’d been as a couple for so many years.
As we became more and more independent, we started to slowly face the reality of our true feelings for each other. Bit by bit, we peeled away things that we’d been forcing or doing out of habit for so long. We asked the hard questions, and found some hard answers.
What we discovered is that we are better as platonic partners. The biggest strengths of our relationship are our friendship and our teamwork. The best things about us are how well we get along and enjoy each other’s company, and how well we work together in life and as parents. We are good at communicating, solving problems, making plans, and acting on them. We are good at knowing what needs to be done and doing it, in a way that allows us both to feel balanced. We balance each other’s weaknesses with our strengths. We have fun together, make each other laugh, and know each other incredibly well. We provide each other with emotional support that is invaluable.
All of those things are still true, and I hope they will never change. What is changing, though, is that we are finally accepting the reality that what we have is no longer a “marriage” in spirit. It’s still an enduring and deeply committed partnership, but it’s no longer at the same level of intimacy as it used to be. Emotionally and physically, our marriage is over.
Coming to terms with this has been confusing and difficult for me. One of my core beliefs about myself was that I would always stay happily married. I was absolutely determined for this to be the case, and truthfully, I am stubborn enough that it could have been. I could have stubbornly held on to the ideal and stayed in my marriage for the rest of my life. I could have been content that way, I truly believe that.
But ultimately, Cory and I have decided to let it go. I believe that there is more for both of us in this life, and I want us to be free to live our best lives.
Still, the incredibly stubborn side of me is finding it very hard to fully accept. I’m trying to find a way to tell my friends and family, and honestly, I am scared to do that. I feel embarrassed. I feel like they are going to judge me, and think I’m ruining my life. Sometimes I wonder if I am ruining my life. I feel like they are going to see this as a tragedy, and I feel awkward that I don’t see it as a tragedy at all. Do I fake a somber mood when I tell people? Ugh, the whole thing just gives me a whole lot of anxiety. It also makes it feel real and that is scary in its own way.
The path my life has taken now makes me question marriage and “forever” love in general. I swore many times that I would love Cory forever. And to be fair, I have not broken that vow because I do love him still. We love each other very much and care for each other deeply. That hasn’t changed.
Yet, there was a time when I felt very much “in love” with Cory, and that part has changed. So, now, when I tell my boyfriend Jay the same thing, that I love him and I always will… is that meaningless? Will I stop feeling this total adoration and desire and passion and attraction for him someday, too? The thought is frightening and saddening, because these feelings that I have for RJ are amazing. I don’t want to lose them, nor do I want to make promises that I can’t keep.
Thinking about this now, I can admit that I have no control over my feelings of attraction or desire for RJ. I can’t guarantee that they will never fade—I can only hope that they won’t. I have a hard time imagining that they ever could, simply because of how overpoweringly strong they are. I have never felt passion and need for someone like I do for RJ, and the best part is that he feels the same way for me.
But regardless of that aspect of our relationship, I can promise that I will always love him. Even if somehow our relationship lost its romantic and sexual sides, I would still love him. He has become my best friend and confidante, a person I want to spend unlimited amounts of time with, a person who knows and cares for me so deeply and who I know and care for just as much. We are partners. I will always love him and want him to be happy, and that is a promise I can keep.
The biggest comfort I have in regards to my marriage to Cory is that these things are also still true for us. Cory is still my best friend, too. He’s still a person I never get tired of spending time with. He still knows and cares for me deeply, and I feel the same for him. We are still partners.
Our song over the past year or so has been “The Bones” by Marren Morris. The song goes like this:
“We’re in the homestretch of the hard times
We took a hard left, but we’re alright
Yeah, life sure can try to put love through it, but
We built this right, so nothing’s ever gonna move it
When the bones are good, the rest don’t matter
Yeah, the paint could peel, the glass could shatter
Let it rain ’cause you and I remain the same
When there ain’t a crack in the foundation
Baby, I know any storm we’re facing
Will blow right over while we stay put
The house don’t fall when the bones are good
Call it dumb luck, but baby, you and I
Can’t even mess it up, although we both try
No, it don’t always go the way we planned it
But the wolves came and went and we’re still standing.”
I love this song. It gave me and Cory strength and faith in our partnership, when things were difficult. We knew that everything would be okay, because the foundation of our relationship is strong. And this is still true. Our partnership has shifted from romantic to platonic, but it is still there and it is still strong. Did it go the way we planned it? Nope. But we’re still standing.
When I met RJ, I said I found my second soul mate. At that time, I wasn’t aware of or ready to face the truth of my feelings for Cory, so I meant that they were both my soul mates in a romantic sense. Now, I still believe that I have two soul mates. But now, I can accept and understand that not all soul mates are romantic ones. It doesn’t make a relationship any less valuable because it’s based on platonic love rather than romantic love. Love is love, and I am so thankful for how much of it I have in my life.