Let’s assume for the moment that my wife’s views of our marriage, of our differences, and of me are correct: that everything she’s doing is completely legitimate, fair, and the right thing to be doing for both of us. After all she’s a skilled and very intelligent professional observer of human psychology. Her opinions should not be taken lightly, much less rejected. She says she only wants the best for me, however much I may not want this divorce. I need to believe this.

This isn’t easy. To confront her perspective, and the emotions she attaches to it, in the naked light of day requires a fresh look at everything I have believed, learned, and practiced. The old worldview needs to go if I am to accept her judgments.

I’m reading Change, by the Austrian-American psychologist and communication theorist Paul Watzlawick. My friend Sean recommended it. Watzlawick believed that people create their own suffering in the very act of trying to fix their emotional problems.

I often create my own suffering.

Watzlawick wrote,

It is difficult to imagine how any behavior in the presence of another person can avoid being a communication of one’s own view of the nature of one’s relationship with that person and how it can, therefore, fail to influence that person. 

We are trapped in our views of one another. I see my wife through the lens of my beliefs—my past, my hopes, and my vision of reality that I want to be real. She sees me through hers.

 A long time ago, in the early years of my first marriage, I underwent a year of serious Jungian analysis, with the then director of the Jung Institute in Manhattan. He was rigid, the weekly sessions were expensive, and when we got too close to truths I didn’t want to confront I quit. Those truths remain.

My wife says I am too dependent on pleasing her, that my attentions to her were invasive, a violation of her personal boundaries. I will accept this as true. I called it a need for togetherness. I called it my definition of love. Someone else might call it co-dependent. I was so invested in these beliefs that I failed to hear, or heed, her admonitions, her warnings.

I think I was afraid that I would lose her, that from the start there was doubt that we had a marriage of true minds. That if I tried, and tried harder all the time, I could bridge this divide, and save us. I missed the point entirely. I didn’t accept that her independence was simply her independence, and not a drawing away from me, until it was. By trying to be too close I indeed crossed her boundaries of self-preservation. She could only erect a wall.

There’s a saying in the advertising world that an agency begins losing a new client on the first day of the relationship. It’s downhill from there, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly—but in the end, the relationship ends.

My experience of love is that it doesn’t last. Or rather, my experience of love as I want it to be doesn’t last. These might be two different experiences—one real, one in my head.

The change I need to effect is to understand—thoroughly, deeply—that I am complete myself, that I do not need another person to make me whole. I need to actualize my own boundaries, boundaries of selfhood, dignity, integrity, and freedom. I do not need a partner to realize these qualities with me.

I want a partner to share my life, to enjoy me for who I am and what I enjoy, rather than me only sharing her life, enjoying only what she enjoys. I need to learn how to realize this.

My wife never asked me to step into her shoes and participate so fully in the life she had established and was living.  I thought it was my duty as a husband, and as the newcomer. And because she was so clear about what she would not do—even if it was something I wanted—I doubled down on becoming the man I thought she wanted me to be—the man who pleased, did what she did, adopted all her friends, and lived her life as she was living it.

To be honest this came with many benefits; but too many liabilities.

Yes, my work is different, and I have friends separate from her, and more friends back east. I have my sons. Somehow they never all came together as I wanted. I blamed my wife, but can see that my desires were simply out of sync with the person she is. My hope for what wasn’t only served to make me try harder, which served to push her further away.

There are things I wish could have happened, but didn’t.  There are no second chances. My wife has told me that people don’t change. I don’t think that’s true–and have personal evidence to prove it–but again I must respect her belief and try to see its validity.  Maybe she’s also talking about herself.

My necessary change is future-focused.  There’s no going home again, here.







You’re so money and you don’t even know it.


Why mope around the house as my marriage is dissolving?

Enough already!

Super Energized Ready for Action Filled with Possibility

That’s the motto, man.

SERAFPN for short. Too angelic?

Dial back the years to the last big break-up, the one so distressing I knocked myself unconscious walking up Hyde Street, tears running down my face…walked straight into a tree. Passersby took me the emergency room at California Pacific. How pathetic was that!

My son Sam came straight away from Boston and on his first night with me said, “We’re watching Swingers,” the classic Vince Vaughn film. Vaughn plays a self-proclaimed master of seduction who shows his broken-hearted buddy how to make connections and get the attention of women.


Before he left, Sam wrote in red maker across my bathroom mirror the great line from the movie, “You’re so money and you don’t even know it!

See why I’m moving to Boston now?

When you’re told by the woman you love, to whom you’re married, that she no longer loves you, or trusts you, or wants to be with you, that you need to move out of the house, that perhaps you should rent a room somewhere, you don’t particularly feel like you’re money.

You feel miserable, deflated, sick in the stomach. In fact you throw up. You feel like a loser.

Fuck that.

You’re so money and you don’t even know it!

I wrote about banishing doubt and living in a world of possibility. I can do anything I want now. The only limitations are financial.

I have a plan, and it’s reasonable, even desirable. I’m not moving to Costa Rica though that’s been suggested. Panama is cheap and filling up with expats, but much too hot. Tokyo is too far away.  I’ve been an expat—loved it—but that time is past. I want to be closer to my family.

Returning to the North East isn’t defeat. California didn’t defeat me. My wife didn’t defeat me.  Granted, what I could afford five years ago before getting married I can no longer afford. The rent on the Russian hill apartment I left to move into my wife’s house has jumped from $1850/month to $5400/month. My wife merely upended my life. It’s my decision how to land.

I plan to land Big. Super Energized Ready for Action Filled with Possibility. Why not?

I keep pointing out to my wife that her life will revert to exactly the way it was before she knew me, while mine is completely turned upside down. This is true, but I think the implication is all-wrong. I can now do anything I want. Everything will be new. It’s not a new chapter; it’s a whole new story.

The things I value in San Francisco I will keep. My friends will remain my friends, with new opportunities for connection.


My son Adam will be here—a definite reason to return often. I will remain a member of the South End Rowing Club. I will be psychologically bi-coastal, but based where my heart belongs.

Love again?  Trust love again?

When I moved to San Francisco in 2008, I told myself Never Again. The two big relationships I had had with women in my life—my mother and my first wife—were problematic to disastrous. Been there, done that. I have three terrific sons—no need to try love again.


Of course within months of being in the city I fell madly in love, as I had never before or since. It was beautiful and perfect, and then it was over. And again I told myself Never Again.

That, too, didn’t last. While on holiday in Finnish Lapland, two hundred miles above the Arctic Circle, I experienced an awakening, a sudden feeling that all was right in my world, that I had everything I could possibly want, that my sons meant more to me than any relationship, and I was free of heartbreak.


I returned to San Francisco unburdened by the past and found new love. We found each other. It was beautiful and perfect, for a while, and now it’s over.

I am not telling myself Never Again. More cautious? Yes. Less trusting—of women, and myself? Yes. I am ready to re-examine the old worldview, look for a new possibility.

Maybe I won’t find it.

It doesn’t matter.




Power and Freedom

Power and freedom don’t usually come about because we want them, because they would be good to have. When we become aware of holding old or limiting views, and examine them, we open ourselves to alternatives.

What gives power and freedom in the face of doubt is to live in a possibility that calls for them. We become interested in what might be, in creating visions, in establishing environments where the pull of possibility trumps the pull of doubt.

Doing so requires a certain commitment, certain practices, a certain giving up and leaving behind old notions, and a clarity that who we are and what we say, can cause a new experience in living. Even at its earliest stages, possibility leaves us with power and freedom.

                                                                                                                    Landmark Forum Leader



I wasn’t searching for power and freedom—not that they wouldn’t be desirable qualities to possess. I wasn’t seeking a new experience in living. I was happy with the experience in living I had. Too happy as it turns out. Too complacent.

Today however the pull of possibility is tremendous. I need a new experience in living. I need to examine my old and limiting views, and be open to alternatives. The old views didn’t work.

Maybe my pursuit of love was all wrong. Maybe my wife would not be dissolving our marriage if my views had been different. She says our worldviews are world’s apart, irreconcilable. She says if we agree on nothing else we can agree on that. I can agree on that—but for the implicit one’s right and one’s wrong judgment implied. There doesn’t have to be a right and wrong. Our views are right for ourselves. The comfort in togetherness I seek and she can’t give is at fatal odds with the separate independence and security that she requires that I fail to deliver.

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.
When I am disturbed,
It is because I find some person, place, thing, situation —
Some fact of my life — unacceptable to me,
And I can find no serenity until I accept
That person, place, thing, or situation
As being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.
Unless I accept life completely on life’s terms,
I cannot be happy.
I need to concentrate not so much
On what needs to be changed in the world
As on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.”

Big Book p.417


To find a new freedom, and a new happiness, and a new power, I must accept the fact that I will shortly no longer be married to the woman I loved. I must accept that the way I am, the man I am, for better or worse, was not the man she wanted me to be. I did not fulfill the ideals and expectations she had for me or for our marriage. I look back, with her words in my head, and see where some things could have been different, better for her and for me. And I must accept that what we had for a short while was beautiful, and be grateful for those times. I am so very sad they couldn’t have lasted.


Banishing doubt is essential to forming a new life vision,though easier to say than accomplish. I have constant doubts–they wake me up at 3:00am and toss and turn in my head until dawn. I have a friend who’s a Zen priest who, talking about meditation, makes the analogy that when thoughts come flying into you head, think of them as tennis balls and gently lob them out of the court, out of your mind. Send those doubts high and deep into a faraway place.

I am entirely ready to live in the possibility of new power, new freedom. An alternative to the way I’ve turned out. I don’t need all the answers today. I need the willingness to be open to what life brings, now, that’s new and available precisely because my wife is divorcing me—a springboard not a dire consequence.

The sooner the better.







Divorce is Forever

My mother would often start conversations with total strangers by discussing the emotional toll of divorce versus death. What she meant by this was the toll it had taken on her by having one husband divorce her and her second husband die five years after they were married. In her experience divorce was far worse than death. (That her second husband had had five heart attacks before their marriage and died on his sixth while on vacation in Bermuda may have influenced her quick recovery. It wasn’t entirely unexpected.)

My mother had a point however. The death of one’s spouse while tragic has a finality that’s unrelated to the surviving partner. There’s no ambiguity, no blame, no resentment, no guilt, no anger, no regrets for what might have been. The sorrow is deep but specific. To have the divorce be unwanted, and unilateral, makes it worse. Whatever warning signs may or may not have been evident, the shock of being told “I don’t love you anymore. I’m divorcing you” is stunning.

I know because those words were told to me.

A basic human need is to feel wanted, to feel loved. On our fourth anniversary last year my wife said she was sorry that our marriage was a disappointment. What I didn’t understand, then, was what she was really saying to me was that she no longer loved me.

I knew our relationship was broken. We hadn’t had sex for over three years. When intimacy was first withdrawn it was unfortunate but tolerable. Love and sex are not the same thing. I never asked, and hoped that one day she might reach across the bed and hold me once again. That day never came. And that broken, lonely feeling of being close but so apart became the nightly routine.

I came across an article in Vanity Fair about—of all things—the prenuptial agreement Donald Trump forced Marla Maples to sign. Two quotes in that article struck home.

Raoul Felder, the legendary divorce lawyer whose clients have included Rudy Giuliani, said. “A prenup sucks romance out of the relationship. It’s a prior agreement as to the disposition of money, assets, payments. You basically plan the divorce before you get married.”

Even Donald Trump realized that, when it comes to romance, a prenup is a buzzkill. “A prenuptial is a horrible document,” he once told a reporter, “because it says, ‘When we get divorced, this is the way we’ll split things up.’ And when you’re a believer in positive thinking, it isn’t good. But it’s a modern-day necessity.”

My wife and I had a prenuptial agreement. It divided and protected our prior assets and set the terms for separation in the event— unanticipated—that day came. Did it suck the romance out? Did it set the clock ticking? At the time it seemed prudent. In retrospect, there’s a harsh sadness to its necessity.  It does indeed make it very easy for my wife to ask me to leave. There’s no legal hassle or question as to division of assets. It’s all predetermined. I just pack up and leave. It was never our house.  By design I was always a tenant.  It’s one more, foundational, negation of “we” in our marriage.

Maybe we leapt into marriage too quickly. We never had a conversation that really dug deeply into what marriage meant to each of us. We said we loved one another, We wanted to live together, be together. There was a time element relating to my wife ending her job and my joining as a spouse on her life-long health insurance. We never questioned our intentions because they seemed pure and heart-felt. We were so happy. I was so happy.


Our wedding day at Greens, with all our friends and children, was one of the happiest days of my life.

I still can’t truly believe it has unraveled, and that my wife has turned into the person who no longer loves me. She has told me that now even her compassion is withdrawn because she knows I want it.  She won’t play “the sympathy game” with me.

Perhaps she’s right. It’s better that she not show kindness, because it’s her kindness I crave and if given would only make the loss sadder.

It’s sad enough.

I will walk out the door of this house and be gone forever. Divorce is forever. My wife will regain her former life, as before she even knew me, and I will start a new life, away from her, away from this city.

I hope this makes her future happy. To have caused such misery without the reward of happiness would be tragic misjudgment.

Moral Failure versus Clarity of Vision

I have asserted that my wife’s refusal to find another way forward to resolve the issues in our marriage, to go straight to divorce without discussion or any attempt to work things out, is a moral failure—a failure to respect the vows we made when we were married, a failure to respect the once-loving bonds of the relationship, a failure to respect, even to try to see, the other person’s needs and desires.

My wife rejects that formulation and instead calls her decision clarity of vision. She is certain that the marriage cannot be mended, that our worldviews are utterly different, and opposed, that her personal salvation depends on me no longer being in her life. She says this makes her sad, and that her sadness is equal to mine.

Perhaps these two judgments speak for themselves.

My wife is not willing to compromise, and has condemned my willingness to compromise as weak, another piece of her decision to dissolve the marriage. She uses as evidence the fact that I stayed in a very unhappy marriage the first time for far too long, accepting unhappiness as a condition to be endured, worked around, rather than ending.

What she says is true. I have a high tolerance for unhappiness. I would rather be together in less than great circumstances, for me, than apart. My wife doesn’t understand that I love her, and that sharing our lives, even without the normal acts of affection and intimacy, is better than calling it quits.

Is it though? Am I fooling myself? Am I so attached to the status quo, to the comforts of home and “married life,” that I am willing to forego personal gratification and fulfillment? My wife is not, and is completely clear about her needs and how to achieve them. I focus on all I’m giving up—not on what I will gain. When I told my wife that I am losing my dog in this divorce, her response was Bebe isn’t a possession, that one doesn’t “own” another creature. Is that supposed to make me feel better?

I know that my attitude will improve when not being confronted with the physical realities of separation: the packing up, the downsizing, the dislocation of where I’ll live, where I’ll work, where my mail will go. Not being confronted by my wife’s judgmental judgments.

Reframing this collapse of my marriage as an opportunity is a mind game.

Time may make it a reality.




Too Short Love

There was a time, a time too short and held now only in my memories, when I know we loved each other. It was real. It wasn’t a Cupid strike of passion but a deep, adult, companionable love that grew from our shared interests in swimming and beaches and books and food and enjoying one another’s company.  Yes there was intimacy, too—sweet dessert, never the main meal.


That was at the beginning, in early days. It lasted a year.

My wife says my need for togetherness, to please her, to be part of her life often at the expense of my own, was intrusive, and in time invasive, that I crossed her tightly defined boundaries, causing her to withdraw all affection and warmth. Was I too much? She says I would try to anticipate what she wanted and then give it to her before she asked, if she ever would have asked. She rarely did ask and that should have been a clue that pleasing her wasn’t a goal she sought.

She leaves me confused as to what is the right balance between togetherness and independence in a marriage? Clearly I got it wrong with her. Or my vision of marriage was so at odds with what my wife could conceivably give of herself that failure was the only outcome possible. I could never pass—or was never permitted to pass—her boundaries of self-protective privacy.

Her old wounds were never far from the surface. Nor were my desires.

She has warned me that in any future relationship I need to be more separate, more independent; to not try to please so overtly; to plan my own destiny not connected to my partner’s; to ground the relationship in its realities and not in my desires of what I want it to be; to be my own person and not one half of a couple; to trudge my own road, not one road together.


I guess this is good advice, advice I ought to heed. It sounds a little lonely to me, distant and cold, and I wonder why I would want this kind of marriage at all.

I have warned her that she should advise any suitor that she comes with an expiration date. Don’t get too close.

I think again about what my friend—a mutual friend of both my wife’s and mine—wrote to me: “I’ve come to the realization that it is rare that most of us are cared for by those of our choosing, and if and when it happens there’s no guarantee it will last. My personal feeling is that one is better off in their own company than with someone who doesn’t respond to them.”


I may be better off alone. Three strikes at the wrong ball is a losing game. Yet I like being married. Hope springs eternal.

Where do I go from here? Dissolving a marriage, and a life in a time and place I purposely sought, while still living together is tough, emotionally draining work. We go about the days pretending life is normal when it isn’t. I pack up my belongings, a box or so a day. She replaces my presence as soon as I remove it—erasing all evidence that I’ve ever lived in her house. When I go it will be exactly the same as it was before I arrived on the scene, plus or minus this piece of furniture or that rug.

I will have been simply the five year mistake.

Last night I attended a performance of Carmen at the San Francisco Opera. It’s always a crowd pleaser, eminently hummable and dramatic. I prefer darker German opera. I know however that Carmen is my wife’s favorite opera. Watching the final scene, when José begs Carmen to return to him and she refuses, it struck too close to home. I never begged, but I did try to find another way, and my wife, like Carmen, refused. Perhaps she identifies.


Of late my soon not-to-be wife has been irritable and critical of the slightest infraction. “You left a clump of almond butter on a dirty spoon in the sink.” “You didn’t stack your weights in the right place.” Everything I say is challenged with a rebuttal designed to put me down, make me less than her. This has always been her way, but now it’s purposeful and I interpret it as cruel. The result is that our periods of silence grow longer and longer. Are we becoming strangers to one another—people we never knew? I never knew the person she’s become.

An unwanted end of a marriage is a difficult time. My wife says it’s difficult for her, too—but she’s getting what she wants and I am not, so I reject her feelings of alleged sadness.

This will have an end, and my life will take a turn and continue. I have learned many lessons—not the lessons my wife says she wants me to have learned, those lessons of too much togetherness.

I still want togetherness.







Marriage—or rather the end of marriage—has been an object lesson in the futility of materialism. I leave marriages with much less than when I entered.

The first time was due to my wife’s hostility. Her intent was that I should leave with nothing. The second is due to my need to downsize in light of my life’s diminution of circumstances—my wife this time is only the catalyst, not the cause. One might look at these situations and question the futility of marriage in the first place, at least for me.

In the cosmic scheme of things I suppose this is a good thing. I surely don’t need all the stuff I’ve accumulated over the years. My wife has told me on more than one occasion that if I hadn’t collected so many books, or dishes, for example, I wouldn’t need to sell or give so many away. So far I’ve sold fifteen boxes of books to Green Apple Bookstore, donated eight boxes to Friends of the San Francisco Library, and have on deck six tote bags of books to sell to Russian Hill Books on Polk Street. This leaves me with over twenty boxes of books to pack and move across the country.


Dishes have gone to CraigsList, eBay, friends, children.

Of course this pales in comparison to the nearly 5000 books my son David and I hauled in multiple pick-up truck trips to the Pleasantville Library in Westchester County when I finally gave up a storage unit left over from the first marriage.

While the end result of downsizing is lightness and greater flexibility, the emotional toll isn’t so energizing. I’ve never acquired anything that didn’t have some meaning attached to it—meaning that I have ascribed to a time and place and circumstance that gives the object acquired a significance beyond its physical state. So when it goes, a piece of memory goes with it, a piece of me.

I know that’s a hollow sentiment, superficial and shallow. Meaning should come from me, not from what I possess. I’m working on detachment. Abandoning the books is especially hard—my own private library. I don’t buy junk, and what I buy has fit into different compartments of my mind and life experience. Art books have been the easiest to give up. All that I have kept are visual reference to my watercolor painting ambitions: books of works by Sargent, Homer, Wyeth, Marin, Birchfield. I’m thinking big time.

Looking ahead, my plan is to live small. I don’t need a large place, much less a house. My ideal remains a rose covered cottage out of the English countryside by that isn’t going to happen. Nor does it need to. Maybe that’s the hardest to accept: ideals that must be sacrificed to circumstances.

But then that leads to the sacrifice of what I have always wanted in a marriage, but never have had. I have wanted to be with someone who loved me as much as I loved them, forever and always. Maybe I wanted too much, tried too hard or not enough. I don’t know anymore.

My first marriage was complicated from the get-go, and three wonderful sons more than compensation for whatever unhappiness was endured. The second, dissolving now?  It seemed so perfect, and even as it evolved into disappointing companionship, its end came as an unexpected and unwanted shock.

It still does.


Goodbye is hard.

Come the end of August I say goodbye to my little doodle-dog Bebe. My wife and I adopted him nearly three years ago from Peace of Mind Rescue in Pacific Grove, a rescue whose mission is to help senior dogs of senior citizens who can no longer care for them find new homes. Bebe was seven when he came to us, and has been a loyal, loving companion ever since. He is the sweetest dog imaginable.  I will miss him dearly. He’s next to me now–as he always is–inseparable and so willing to be loved.


What I hate about my situation is the unilateral nature of the decision to end our marriage.  There was no “we” in this decision–as I came to understand there was no “we” in our marriage.  There was a “you” and a “me” but never “us.”  My wife’s uncompromising sense of independence and identity separation could not yield to the idea of togetherness.  Nevertheless for one person to up-end the life of another, unilaterally, without discussion, without any attempt to find another way, is a moral failing.  I lose the entire life I have built both in committing to this marriage and have built in San Francisco.  I’m losing my dog.  When she first informed me she intended to dissolve our marriage my wife said we could share the dog–an impracticable and unworkable suggestion that was a twist of the knife, knowing that this could never be accomplished. I have asked that on the day I leave the house forever that both my wife and Bebe be away.  No painful farewells on the doorstep. I don’t know whether I could emotionally bear seeing Bebe again.  In time he will stop looking around the house for the missing man, and I don’t want to rekindle his hope.


I ascribe to the philosophical assertion that life is suffering, either in our own lives or in the lives of others around us.  Life is difficult. These are incontrovertible. Because life’s difficulties are undeniable, we have a moral necessity to create an antidote to these difficulties.  Kindness.  Compassion.  Responsibility.  Commitment.  Integrity.  Love. We can always make things worse, but we can also make things better.  There’s reason for hope. But to make someone’s else life difficult, even miserable, to achieve personal self-centered ambitions, is wrong.  A religious person might call it sinful. Who gets to define the boundaries of pain in a relationship? My wife said to me, “you’re a good man.” Not good enough.

I realize these musings aren’t helpful to forget about what might have been, what should have been. My wife tells me, “happiness is a choice.”  The power of positive thinking. Fake it ’til you make it.  I believe there is happiness on the other side of this breakdown, this failure to sustain a workable, even loving, marriage.

I will still miss Bebe.



Life Provisional

My life feels entirely provisional right now, up-ended by my wife’s unilateral decision to end our marriage. I move out of the house she owns at the end of August—today is June 10.  Between now and then I must pack and remove everything I own, downsizing as I go to minimize the move and to accommodate the smaller space I will eventually rent. My plan is to live temporarily as lightly as I can between September and the end of December, and then move to Boston in January. Friends have offered me their house for the interim.

Everything is up in the air. I have teaching commitments during the summer term at Hult, and in the fall term at Stanford and Hult. Negotiations are proceeding to transfer my Hult adjunct professorship to Hult’s Boston campus but nothing is yet confirmed. I will be giving up my established relationship with Stanford—my first teaching experience. I am giving up my entire west coast life.


Outside of work, I have a tooth extraction later in June, the first step in an implant procedure that my dentist and I hope to have completed by the end of the year. On July 24th I have hand surgery to correct a bent finger, the result of a Dupuytren’s contracture condition. I will be out of the water for six weeks, and during the recovery period completing the final packing of my furniture and possessions. The moving Pod arrives on August 28th for only two days of packing. My hand is sure to hurt and be of limited use.

Hundreds of questions keep me awake at night, or more often wake me up at 3:00am eliminating sleep for the rest of the night. I keep an ever-expanding list of things to accomplish, what not to forget.

This is not the life I planned to have, nor want to have. I planned to live out my life in San Francisco. I planned to live out my life with my wife.  It was a purposeful decision to move here in 2008, to start afresh in a new job, a new city, a new life—all mission accomplished. I moved here with the intention of forming no new romantic relationships. Eleven years later, and two relationships later, it’s again an intention. Why risk heartbreak again—three strikes and I’m out.  The odds haven’t been in my favor.

I have been an expat many times in my life—in Ireland, Spain, Singapore, Australia, France, Japan. San Francisco at first felt like a foreign city.  Now it feels like home. A home I am leaving.


Depression about this situation comes and goes. I want to be on the other side. My list of things to do, of worries, just grows longer even as tasks get checked off. I’m sure my mail will be messed up for months, temporary address after temporary address. Big changes like health insurance are worries, too, but will sort themselves out in due course. It’s the hundred little things that make me anxious. I try not to project outcomes but a score of different scenarios keep playing out in my head. Few look good at this distance.

Some days I feel confident that moving to Boston will be absolutely the best possible outcome to a sad and unfortunate situation. Other days I think it’s just an attempt to mix up some lemonade from a sack of rotten lemons. It’s a leap into the unknown, like being an emigrant arriving in a new, vaguely familiar country.  Having Sam and family there helps. I won’t be entirely alone.


I ask myself why does it have to be this way, why couldn’t my wife have found a way to explore a new possibility?   It’s not a helpful question anymore. Helpful questions now must be about the future, not what might have been. The disappointments of the past three years that I experienced but buried deep in my own rationalizations of good enough should be a springboard to better times. My marriage was only for a short time what I hoped it would be. That’s what my wife says, too.

Move on. Move on. It’s what everyone tells me.

A friend wrote to me “I’ve come to the realization that it is rare that most of us are cared for by those of our choosing, and if and when it happens there’s no guarantee it will last. My personal feeling is that one is better off in their own company than with someone who doesn’t respond to them.”

Wise words.


Breaking bonds is so hard

It’s so hard to break the emotional bonds with someone you still love who is divorcing you. I’m in a coffee shop reading an article I know my wife would like and my immediate impulse is to forward it to her.  Then I ask myself why?  Why is my first thought of her, now when I need to let go.  Though still legally married she really isn’t my wife anymore, not in any ordinary sense of the word–a word actually she asked me never to use because to her “wife” implies a man’s property, not a relationship.  So I don’t forward the article and then I feel churlish, small-minded.  She would have liked it.  Why can’t friendship survive the dissolution of our marriage, our life together?


My wife said to me that she’s a better friend than a partner.  She’s friends with another former husband–I’m the third–and several other former boyfriends.  She has said she would like to be friends with me, too, later when the separation is complete and I’m gone from her house and life.

That hasn’t been my practice.  I have had very few romantic relationships in my life, three in fact.  When my former girlfriend broke up with me, several years before I met my wife, I erased every scrap of evidence that she had ever been with me.  I had a fireplace in my Russian Hill apartment and for several days I burned everything she had ever given me: letters, cards, programs from concerts we had attended together, even the lovely collages she had made only for me.  I sold everything she had ever given me on eBay, or threw it away.  Digital evidence was harder.  I deleted over 7000 emails, and hundreds of photos stored in iPhoto or on Facebook.  Eventually all that remained were a few photos on Google Images for which I could never locate the original source files to delete.


Am I sorry today, eight years later?  No.  Memories, such as they are, serve me well enough.

The question I keep asking myself over and over is why is my emotional well-being so deeply invested in these relationships–and in this admittedly disappointing relationship?  Perhaps if I had had more girlfriends and lovers in my life any one of them wouldn’t be so shattering when it ended.  It would be easier to move on.  My wife seems to have no problem ending relationships and then incorporating those men into the more casual, uncommitted, fabric of her life.

When I told my wife I liked being married, that I was committed to the idea of marriage, and to this marriage, and that I wanted the two of us to find a way to remain together, her response was of course men like being married because statistically married men live longer, whereas single women live longer. As though I checked the actuarial tables before asking her to marry me.


Even writing this blog is part of the obsession to remain connected to my wife who has asked me to leave.  If I write enough, think enough, maybe I’ll come to realize and accept the fact that our marriage is no more, that the incomprehensible is deathly real.

And that I will be OK.