Here’s the last post in Pippi’s series. To recap, Pippi got married at 24. She’d known her husband since high school although they didn’t start dating until Pippi was 22. Marriage needs chemistry and for Pippi, it wasn’t there. After 11 years, Pippi did leave. Now three years later, she’s in a relationship that allows her to be her authentic self. Here’s Pippi:
I’ve been in a relationship now for over 15 months. We met on Match.com. He’s 12 years older than me and has two girls who are much older than my two boys. What I enjoy most about our relationship is the freedom to be my authentic self which I didn’t have during my marriage.
By authentic self I mean being open and honest, not holding any secrets back.
We joined a local country club and the first night we were there, we ran into my former gynecologist – the man I’d had the emotional affair with. I told my boyfriend the story and he said, “oh boy.” They met each other and it was weird but he was totally cool about it. He didn’t get jealous. He’s completely different from my ex in that regard: he’s not insecure, he’s not jealous. I like to say he has a CEO presence. He’s someone I look up to, he’s very funny and the dynamic is a good one. I’m able to share things with him that I would never have shared with my ex.
Learning what my authentic self is, has been a process of discovery. It’s certainly meant learning what it means to be with someone who is a good communicator and who welcomes my communicating with him. He tells me, “It’s OK if you don’t agree with me and you can go tell me to pound sand. That’s OK. Things aren’t always going to be roses and butterflies.” I don’t feel the same fear around him that I felt with my ex. I’m not sure why, I think it has to do with the accommodater in me.
During my marriage, I was always very unhappy sexually and very unfulfilled. I didn’t even like to kiss my ex. Now I enjoy intimacy with my boyfriend but I’ve realized there’s no nirvana. I was expecting this passion and chemistry all the time. With the gynecologist, we had great chemistry but there was nothing else. With my boyfriend now, we definitely have chemistry but I’ve been trying to come to terms with that there’s not butterflies in the stomach all the time. It doesn’t mean that anything’s wrong with the relationship, it’s just going through a different phase.
I love to be close to him, I love holding his hand and showing him affection. That was something I never felt in my marriage. I don’t think my children ever saw me hug their father. I think I followed the same pattern my mother did. I remember when I was young, watching my mother massage my father’s neck because he wanted her to. But I could tell it wasn’t something she didn’t want to do.
I’ve always thought that if people don’t want to be married or are unhappy, then they should divorce. But I never thought I would be able to leave.
I can imagine Pippi’s story as a fairy tale … Once upon a time there was young girl with a goofy sense of humor who thought she was in love in with a doctor. They got married and had two children but it wasn’t a happy marriage. Sometimes he was moody and pouted. Pippi didn’t like to touch him and although she was sad, she couldn’t bring herself to tell her husband because she knew it would make him said. Then one day a knight came and charmed Pippi. Pippi had a glimpse of what her life could be like and told her husband she was leaving. Sadly, the charm wore off and Pippi was left alone. Soon after that Pippi met another knight. They held hands and told each other everything. They fell in love and lived happily ever after.
Can you see the picture book? Joking apart, the message that stands out for me is the importance of communicating and what a difference it makes to be with someone with whom you can express how you feel, even if ultimately you end up agreeing to disagree. Mama J talked about the importance of fighting in a marriage and I believe learning to express your wants, needs, desires, is a very important skill to learn. I don’t think anyone can tell you exactly how to do it because you have to find a way that’s consistent with your personality and character. How well your partner responds to how you express yourself is a critical factor in compatibility.
I’m in the conflict avoidance camp – there were issues I definitely avoided when I was married and through some recent personal work, I’m coming to the conclusion that my conflict avoidance goes back a lot further than my marriage. I know I have work to do here trying to understand why but in the meantime, I’m keep practicing these skills on my teenagers 🙂
This is the last in Pippi’s series. I want to thank Pippi (@runpippirun) for sharing her story.