My wife has broken down in tears and had to leave work countless times over the past two years. On Monday, it happened to me for the first time ever.
Since the kids moved out of my house two days before, my emotions had been pretty raw. I had mainly been alone the whole time with the dogs. In our decisions about the division of furniture, I had previously agreed that my wife could have a couple of very nice antiques which had been wedding presents.
With some trepidation, I opened an e-mail from my wife in the staff lunchroom, surrounded by colleagues and interns. It was a page-long e-mail, remarkable for its kindness and generosity. She offered me numerous items which I had previously said could be hers; our best mattress (because of my spinal problems), the new computer and one of the "wedding present" antiques.
She said: "Since we got them on our honeymoon and I think you should have at least one of them. After all, we both got lots out of our marriage and on the whole it was pretty good and we have three beautiful/handsome children."
My eyes welled up and within seconds, I was weeping uncontrollably.... a rarity for me. It was first really positive comment after years of poison, criticism, hatred and verbal abuse. An acknowledgement that there were was some good things in our marriage. I showed the e-mail to my best friend at work who insisted that I was in no condition to remain. I fled the crowded building leaving many of puzzled and concerned colleagues in my wake.
I went out and drove around in my car for a couple of hours crying uncontrollably the whole time. Such is the nature of our jobs that we cannot just leave.... there has to be someone in our place every minute doing the work so colleagues and interns filled in for me. In the end, I took the entire next day off as well.
Two days later, I felt able to phone my wife and thank her for her kind words. We both ended up sobbing uncontrollably yet again over the phone. It was just too intense but agreed that our crying spell was a good thing.
It really is very difficult and complicated ... this business of falling out of love with someone and getting divorced. What makes it worse (or perhaps better, I suppose) is that we still care for the other despite all the hurt and the erratic behaviour.