After more than a month of being in the US for work I knew I had to go home. Even if just for a weekend, I needed to sit down with Dan and sort this out. So, I took Friday off, booked a ticket and went straight from the airport to our old apartment where I planned to meet Dan for our big talk.
I had so many feelings – fear, anxiety, regret, anticipation – but the one I was most surprised about was a feeling of longing. Although I hadn’t given myself much time to think about it, I had really missed Dan. We had been so close for so long. Little things would come up that made me laugh and my instinct was to reach out to him. I would hear a song and it would remind me of a fond memory. I would think about something in the future and Dan would be there. It was strange.
Unlike other break-ups I knew about, Dan and I didn’t have a huge falling out and we didn’t hate each other. Things just changed…or didn’t, I guess was the problem. I wasn’t sure how to feel I just knew I couldn’t be with him anymore the way things were.
As I walked up the familiar steps to our apartment I was overcome with emotion. The last month had been so busy and so far away that I had been able to avoid thinking about the truly sad side of our break-up. I opened the door and stepped inside to see Dan waiting for me just a few steps away. He had lost weight. He looked good. We looked at each other. He whispered, “hi” and the tears began to flow. I stood in the middle of our apartment, alone, holding my luggage crying like a baby.
Poor Dan. He didn’t know what to do. He walked over and stiffly put his arm around me and led me to the couch. A few minutes later he brought me a glass of water and we began to talk. That conversation turned into a marathon weekend. We barely left the apartment, we took no calls. We ordered take out and only stopped to sleep and use the washroom.
I told him how lonely I had felt for quite some time. And this time he actually listened. He told me how afraid he had been of change that he lost sight of what it means to be in a relationship. I told him I didn’t think I could be married to him anymore. He told me he was determined to prove me wrong. I told him about my fling with Grant. He listened.
And really that was it, for the first time in so long I felt that we were actually listening to each other. That we weren’t defending or getting frustrated or standing our ground but that we were open with the intention of hearing what the other person was saying beyond just their words.
By the Saturday night we were exhausted. I took a long bath to try and decompress and process some of what we had been talking about. When I came out I settled into bed and Dan joined me. We just lay there beside each other and slept. But the whole time I couldn’t help thinking, “We want such different things. How could this ever work?”
The next morning when Dan woke up I told him what I had been thinking. He asked, “Do you love me?” and I told him I did but I was sure of that before and I had been miserable. It was at this moment that I look back and see that everything changed. Our relationship shifted right then and there.
What Dan said next became the foundation for our relationship going forward. I am sure without realizing it he laid the groundwork for years of a successful but non-traditional marriage when he said, “But that is because you loved me so you gave everything up. That wouldn’t make anyone happy. So, from now on we will work on being together and loving each other but also being who we want to be and supporting each other’s choices.”
I am sure he had no idea when he said it that it would mean a more open marriage but that is what happened. And that is what has made us happy and kept us together for many years since.
Do you know anyone with an open marriage? Would you ever consider one?