I’m sat on the terrace of my holiday rental, the only person awake. I like this time for the warming morning sun, for the quiet and for the chance to be alone with my thoughts.
I’ve been almost dreading this holiday. I mean, I’ve been looking forward to the break, to the chance to be by the sea and to the possibility of good food eaten in beautiful surroundings. But over the months preceding the trip the distance between myself and my wife has become a yawning chasm, the gap so wide that physical contact seems impossible. Even the perfunctory peck on the cheek when one or the other of us leaves or returns home has gone.
Surely we have to talk about it. I’m pretty sure she thinks the same; in fact I think she’s waiting for after the boy’s 18th, not wanting what should be a joyous family gathering to be sullied by some big row between the two of us.
But waiting is an absolute bastard, even if it is for a conversation I’m not sure I even want to have.
Perhaps she’s going to say she wants out. Out of a marriage that’s lacked intimacy and communication for most of its duration; out of a marriage where neither is satisfying the other’s most basic needs; out of a marriage where both of us can feel lonely while not alone
Perhaps she’s going to say she knows about my alter ego, about my beautiful Mistress and the paid-for spanky sex I’ve self-indulgently allowed myself. I don’t think that’s it. If she knew about that she’d hate me so much she wouldn’t be able to keep it in.
So what do I want out of the big altercation that feels so near it’s an oppressive, almost physical presence on our holiday?
I have no fucking clue.
I don’t know whether I want a reconciliation, a building of bridges and a working towards a solution. It’s probably too late for all that anyway.
I don’t know whether I want a separation; the stress of that option seems so daunting. In truth, I’m so horrified by the process of separation that I can’t see beyond it.
More clarity about my feelings for her would help; surely any move forward, even if that means a parting, has to start from there:
I love her a bit. She’s my wife and the mother of my children and we’ve shared a lot together. She’s clever and hard working and dedicated and she loves our boys unreservedly. I love to ski with her, matching turns as we flow fast down a mountain, laughing at the sheer joy of it. I wish that were enough
I hate her a bit. For the obsessive, perfectionist, control freak part of her; for her refusal to accept that anything wrong in our relationship might have its foundation in her behaviour as well as in mine; and, even ten years on, I hate her a bit for her affair and her refusal to accept any responsibility for it.
Mostly though my feelings lie between these two extremes and we rub along OK.
Or we did. Could we again? Would that be enough?
Were we to separate, I’d be sixty before it got sorted out. Do I really want to try and build a new life for myself with all that entails? Does she? Perhaps we don’t have a choice. I can’t see her living with the knowledge that I see other women to satisfy my masochistic needs and I’m not sure I’m prepared to subjugate or hide those needs any longer. The lies are too exhausting.
So we go through our holiday dancing round each other, dancing round the gorilla in the room.
What a fucking mess.