Yesterday I wrote some about a book I’m reading, Crazy Time – Surviving Divorce and Building A New Life. It IS a fantastic book. The book goes into the unspoken, marriage contract all people make, as to who will be the dominant and who will be the submissive in the relationship. The problem comes when things deadlock and there is no seesaw of that dominance. Seems most never realize that is the issue.
It is not to be mistaken for CONTROL. I openly admit I was the more dominant person in my second marriage, most likely because my ex was used to a very strong mother so he was seeking, unconsciously, a strong woman in a wife. Guess he got more than he bargained for, as he is a bit of a control freak. But that is how he survived his mother, a familiar dance to him in life so I guess that is why he sought out me. I was definitely more dominant but he held the control. He controlled the money, insisted on a clean home with a place for everything and everything in its place. His way was the ‘correct’ way to clean the bathroom, etc, regardless of the outcome being the same no matter what method was used to achieve it. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking this in that it worked for us. Trust me, you could eat off our garage floor if that was your desire, the man was wicked awesome when it came to neat, clean and tidy. But what did not work was the deadlock in our relationship over time with no give on EITHER side of the equation. I am painted the bad guy, the cause of the divorce (never mind it takes 2 to make it work or fail), but I have big shoulders and the more I learn about me, the more I am more than willing to carry that blame. I have strong shoulders and not denying my part in it all.
The great part about the book is it points out, there is no ‘blame’, no assholes, no bitches. Reality is it deadlocks and it is a rare couple that seems to adjust the dominance between them as needed. As couples grow and change the distribution of the dominance never changes and that is the issue when it all fails. Neither side is able to adjust for the growth. Especially the dominant partner, they don’t handle the other person changing on them very well. And that would be me. I did not handle the growth and changes in my husband at all. Oh I wish I had known of this book when I got married, might have saved the relationship.
But that is not the topic I wanted to talk about today. I want to talk about the MAIN focus of this book, the ‘crazy time’ both sides will go through after the marriage is over. It starts at the the time of separation and typically, per countless therapists, lasts around 2 years. Crazy time is just that, CRAZY!
Dominant folks like myself get very angry and are subject to bizarre behavior. We are in complete denial that there was something wrong with the marriage and the divorce takes us completely by surprise. The other party, the submissive, has been plotting and planning, building up strength for some time, to exit the marriage. Often it is associated with an affair, called “the marriage breaking affair”. The dominant may never know about the affair, but it is the betrayal that is the beginning of the split. The cheater is building up their strength through an outside source, to pack it up and end the marriage. When they finally end the marriage, at the confrontation, the dominant person is caught off guard. And believe me this is all a script for things with my marriage. I did not see this coming at all. The final two years were the best it had ever been in my opinion. Far less fighting and tension. Then again, the ‘submissive’ partner was taking on more and more hours at the firehouse and more landscaping accounts. I now understand it was to be away from me so he could prepare to end things, and that is why it was quieter. I cannot find fault in him for that, he had no idea how to adjust things either! I had lost my job and the final 2 years I was unemployed. I changed and he couldn’t handle the person I became as I mourned the loss of my job. Losing a job, especially one you were at a long time (26yrs for me) is like a death. You go through all the same stages of grief and I was busy doing just that. As I was coming out of that 2 year crazy time, I got slapped with the divorce and got to go through the whole ‘death’ thing all over again. It’s a wonder I didn’t act on the fantasies of running his ass over!
Being dominant means denial at first. Then the anger sets in accompanied by bizarre behavior. Some even carry it too far and that is when the dominant partner might go as far as to kill their ex. Most never carry out their vivid fantasies of revenge, but seems some will. However the feelings and frustrations, the desire to ruin the other party, is perfectly normal. And the off the wall behavior, like lashing out irrationally in my blog, or getting totally plowed drunk with my son, was completely ordinary. Submissives go through that strange behavior too, doing things they never really did before. My ex played soccer all of a sudden with the girl I believe was the marriage breaking affair, if not physically at least on heart and mind level. In 23 years together, 22 of those married, he had never expressed any desire to play soccer. I wasn’t there to see it but I’ve heard he did his share of ‘crazy’ stuff too. More power to him. We were being ‘normal’. He didn’t care for my insanity and made that known and even told me others thought I was a nut case. I laugh out loud now, because yes indeed, I was acting like a nut case! A perfectly normal, ordinary response in our situation. I feel vindicated! And hey, I didn’t run him down, shoot him, stalk him or try to destroy him. I stayed on the edge of the cliff.
I am just past 2 years from being told we were done. May 1st marks the 2 year anniversary of my exiting the marital residence and our separation leading up to the divorce. The divorce was final in August that year. So, I am nearing the end of the typical 2 years it takes to work through the crazy time. Over all I’ve done well, and gone through the stages of grief. I knew I had arrived in a better place and was past it when I recently saw a photo of my ex and his new love, and I smiled! I actually realized I was happy for him. He didn’t have that Walter (Jeff Dunham puppet) scowl on his face, it was a genuine HAPPY smile! At the same time I noticed I was feeling relief that I am NOT attached or in love. The Count was the breaking of my own deadlock I was still carrying around for my marriage. I feel gloriously independent, enjoying soaring in the sky and flying free. It’s so exciting, exhilarating and scary all that same time!
But more on all of that tomorrow.
If you are going through a divorce, or contemplating one, or just passed one…heck if you are about to get married, PLEASE read this book. It has been so very helpful for me to realize I wasn’t losing my mind, I was sailing through very normal waters.