Alison met Barry (names changed) at a young age, when they were both fresh out of varsity and ready to live it up. A highly sought after financial degree in hand, both partners were soon making a lot of money, and with that came more freedom to party, drink, and generally live it up. They did their financial planning and were in a fortunate position that there was quite a bit of money left over at the end of the month. Along came the houseboat, and with that the house friends of a similar mind since birds of a feather will stick together.
Five years later, Maggie was born, and Alison found herself changing; her priorities and concerns were for her child and she began to stay home more often while Barry went out on the usual binges. As her self-awareness grew she began to seek her spirit self out, and her needs began to change. Barry’s resentment of Alison grew alongside her, turning each outing into an argument of priorities. Barry would come home drunk, and whereas before they would both stumble about and help each other over the toilet bowl, they now hurled abuse at one another. Barry admitted that he needed to change, but did nothing about it. Alison spent more time at church, more time at mother’s events with Maggie, and less time with him.
It would not be long before Alison realised that she had become a different person to the one that had married Barry. She resented the fact that he would not understand the change in priorities and try harder. He resented the fact that she was no longer “what he bought into” when they got married. And so a stalemate was reached.
What is to be done when one part of the couple equation wants things to change, and the other does not? In this case, the differences became irreconcilable; Alison found the pastor was far more understanding and Barry took refuge in the arms of a younger, drunker pair of heels.
In the end, the two divorced. Alison has worked hard at trying to come to terms with the fact that she changed and in so doing effectively “killed” the marriage. Barry was all too happy to feed into that, telling her that she destroyed the life of their child. He allowed his resentment of her to turn into full blown abuse and although we’ve worked through it to a large extent in counseling, Alison will never be the same again because of the guilt she was made to feel around wanting to be a better person. After a restraining order and another five years down the line, Alison has remarried the pastor and has a second child. Barry, she says, has also grown; he grew a beer belly.
Sometimes it’s possible to work through differences. Sometimes what each wants out of a relationship is so different that the rift is impossible to get past. It could be argued that Alison could have been more supportive, it could be argued that Barry could have been more responsible; but people don’t operate by the proverbial book; people have needs and sometimes those needs lead them in a new direction. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; Barry got what he wanted. Alison got what she wanted. And Maggie is all the better for it, because mom has been down a path she can help to steer Maggie away from, and maybe dad will one day see that the best time of his life is to be had in those moments when she visits, a little older, and a little wiser.
Sometimes, people meet and stay together for a length of time long enough to help the other find their path, and then let them go to live that path in accordance with their own wishes.