Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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She's A Jar With A Heavy Lid

What a bunch of nice folks y'all are. Well, most of you, anyway. Some of you are sad. Anyone who actively attempts to kick someone when they're down is subhuman. But you already knew that. You know it every time you look at yourself in the mirror. Just know if you're a dick here I'll delete your comment with the quickness. I used to feel obligated to let all comments stand in the interest of this being a place where I solicit them and because I'm generally interested in hearing your opinions, even the negative ones, but not anymore. If you're typing a comment to be a jerk I just giggle that you wasted your time crafting your little hate missile and then hit delete on your sad sack ass while feeling all drunk with power and stuff. BUH-bye.

So. Yeah. It's a relief to get that off my chest. It's kept me from wanting to write here for months.

It may seem strange to you that this comes so fast on the heels of giving birth to the amazing Charlie but the separation preceded his birth by several months. Additionally, for anyone to suggest we decided to have a baby to 'fix' the marriage is dumber than someone who would actually have a baby to fix a marriage. Newborn kids are hell on marriages, anyone who's had one knows that. Shit, kids in general are hell on marriages. And then somewhere along the line they become the reason so many of us stay in unhappy unions for decades. Funny how that works, isn't it?

Like I said, autopilot is a dangerous thing. You live out your life according to some plan you have set in your head. Our marriage is fine, this is just how life goes, let's have that third baby we've both always wanted because we're getting old. Maybe your marriage isn't horribly bad but it's rarely all that good. You don't hate the other person but you aren't in love with them anymore and so you stay because of kids or the thought of leaving is scarier than the thought of staying or the marriage is like a business and you can't close up shop just now or you don't want to die alone or you just had a kid or you had a really great vacation together so maybe things will be different or you don't want to disappoint your own seemingly happy parents or you can't afford to separate or negotiating your way through a divorce seems too daunting so you open another bottle of wine and turn on the TV...Whatever the case may be.

Every decision to separate or divorce is an intensely personal one and each person's idea of what circumstances should or shouldn't lead to divorce are vastly different. Anyone on the outside looking in at the dissolution of a marriage can only speculate on the circumstances.

Simply put, however, after months of evaluating whether our marriage, us being together, was a positive for our kids or a negative I determined that it had slid over the line into being a negative. We are not setting a good example for the most important people in our lives and I don't know that we ever can while living together within the bonds of marriage. In fact, I'm reevaluating the entire notion of marriage. I don't know that it's a state of being I'd subscribe to in the future. Not in its traditional state, anyway.

I don't know what the future holds. I'm scared as hell. And the recurring thought that Violet, who is 5, is my only child that will vaguely remember her parents together is a sledgehammer to my chest a thousand times a day. This partnership and family we've spent ten years building will never be something my boys know. I was also 5 when my parents divorced. But I feel wide awake for the first time in a long time. Amidst all the heartache is the reassuring notion that I'm living consciously, that I am actively seeking a content, happy life and not slogging unhappily through the days. I want Serge to be happy too. Life is short. So short. I don't want to wake up at 50-years-old and find I've spent decades in an unsatisfying marriage just so I could prove to myself that I'm not my parents.

So. That's where we are. But enough about me. What about you? Do you believe in marriage? Where are you in your marriage? How long have you been married and what are you learning about yourself, your partner, your life?

Reader Comments (54)

Children are resilient AND they remember so much more than we give credit for. I believe unhappy parents create unhappy kids. As long as you both devote all your love to them, seperate or together, theyll be fine. Good luck.

March 30, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterlisa

I've been reading here a long time, and have always admired your honesty and willingness to share details about your life. Let's face it, blogging is half dead at the moment and I think part of that is the fact that most popular blogs are now less like personal essays - which got people reading in the first place - and more about being guarded for fear of criticism/sponsored posting. I don't think any of us read someone's personal blog and don't judge in some sense. It's so much easier to give advice or see what's going wrong in others' lives than it is to look at our own. I'm not married, but I have often read this blog and thought 'Okay, so marriage and real life aren't bed of roses, she's right. But if it's this fucking miserable, is it worth it?!'. I think in separating you did the right thing for you and your children, by the sounds of it.

I'm at the point of my life where I'm also evaluating things, and what I want for the future. It's tougher when you're single/childless, because you think 'if marriage isn't for me, then how do I build my own family, in whatever shape or form it may take?'. I don't think anyone desires to be completely alone. I'm at the age where everyone I know is getting married. They all seem so happy. Then you hear stories all over the media about monogamy being unnatural and how most men/people cheat anyway and are miserable. I hope some people do find happiness in marriage, though it may be rare. I think that may often take the form of perhaps a second or third marriage/relationship even, when people have learnt what they need and want and have perhaps gotten all that hot sex out of their system. Who knows? I'm terribly confused. I recently broke up with someone. The idea that I may never have that nice relationship I always had in my head, or it may not even exist as a potential reality, is quite sad for me. I like to call this lost feeling "the libido that won't seem to f*ck off". I don't get much out of casual sex. Sometimes I wonder if I was a man would I feel better about the whole thing. I could possibly be a happy polyamorist then. I think in our unfortunate world men have the opportunity to not be alone/get some for a lot longer than we do as women. Sad, but true. Anyway, I hope you find what you are looking for and I'm looking forward to reading about all the adventures and self-discovery ahead. Best of luck to you and Serge.

March 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRose

P.S. Apologies for the italics above. I fail at HTML. Also, I forgot to say that if you are bisexual you seem as lucky as hell to me. If I could, I'd be with a lady in a heartbeat :-)

March 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRose

Thanks for your honesty in writing. I find writing very therapeutic but I often edit myself for my readers. Now that my children are adults I don't worry quite so much about what I write because I know they can work through anything I have to say and come out with their own opinions and truths.

Like you, I was married 10 years to a wonderful man; had three children; and at age 36 I left the marriage. I left the Mormon Church at the same time after several years of questioning. I found my true love shortly after leaving my marriage at an national conference for Mormon Gays and Lesbians. It was a bit ironic and iconic at the same time. We will be celebrating our 18th anniversary this year. Our three children have grown into amazing people who have love, compassion and intelligence.

I, for one, am cheering for you. Keep on moving and know that you are amazing and life will be exciting and fun and crazy and hard. But well worth all the god damn hard work!

Just Jill

March 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJust Jill

I've been with my husband since 1997 and until this year it has been a relationship rife with dishonesty, infidelity, heartbreak, and just general unhappiness. We had a speedy courtship--I actually got pregnant with our daughter the first or second time we had sex--but neither he nor I were in any shape to be in an honest, committed relationship, but we weren't going to admit that. Well, I guess I wasn't going to admit that. He tried to tell (and show) me that he wasn't ready to settle down, but I was coming out of a terrible first marriage with a small child and now had another on the way...I hung on to him for dear life, dignity be damned. We separated twice, once for three years and most recently for six months, but it wasn't until the last separation that something actually clicked and we both realized that the other person was worth the effort. There have been countless times over the years that I wished I was strong enough, less fearful and more confident, to know that I could stand on my own two feet and not need the financial cushion he supplied, but I just couldn't take that step or the next one. I congratulate you for taking control of your life and your happiness--I wouldn't wish the heartbreak I've caused myself on anyone.

March 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterA

Thank you for sharing this intensly personal story. My heart is breaking and aching for you. I've been with my husband for 11 years and married for 8. You and Serge are similar ages as my husband and I and our first and second born children are the same age (in second born's case, they are a day apart). Other than that, we really have nothing in common, but because of the few similarities, I felt a kinship to you and your family. I read about the marriage troubles and I hoped you could make it work. I myself believe in marriage and love my husband more all the time. I know that seems cliched, but we seem to be a really good match. But I also believe marriage is not for everybody and I agree that staying in a bad marriage is not helpful for children. I wish you so much love and happiness in the future and I'm excited to follow your adventures. I hope you keep blogging.

March 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLeah

I said this, I think, to you a long time ago. My parents divorced when I was three--I have a couple memories of them together only because I have an insanely good memory but the bottom line is, their divorce really did not traumatize me--other things did, as they do, but not their splitting up.
Them not married was the normal I grew up with and I am very very grateful for that...I didn't have to live in a house with fighting or unspoken but deeply felt resentment like so many of my friends did. So, give yourself a break from that sledgehammer. I honestly believe that if it's not going to work with you guys together you're doing the bravest best thing for your family by choosing to be apart now as opposed to later and I am certain you will, ultimately, be able to remain friends as my parents did. By the end of my father's life there's no doubt my mom was his closest friend. Hang in there and keep writing,

March 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterE.

I have been married for nearly 17 years. We're happy. We're so, so rare among our friends. I don't know why we got lucky, but we did. I commented yesterday that it's part luck, part hard work, part genetic, part circumstantial. I don't think two people can count on any of the previous when standing at the alter, it's probably always a bit of a crap shoot.

All that said, it's not like our marriage is 100% bliss, all of the time. I would be shocked to find anyone that could claim that after any number of years. Sometimes I'm bored, I'm sure sometimes he's bored. But we still like to watch Mad Men together, sex is still fun 90% of the time and our libidos are fairly well matched, our strengths and weaknesses complement each other when raising kids and managing a household, areas where he's a tightwad, I'm generous and areas where I'm tightwad, he's generous. We get along. We ride well together in a car. I cook, he does the laundry. He goes to work, I do the taxes. I swear to god, I think it's the mundane things as much as the "big" things that make or break a marriage. How in the world could two people who've been dating a year or two predict those things 20 years into the future? It's a crap shoot, I tell you.

Anyway. I'm a lucky bitch, and I know it. I try not to take it for granted and I sure as hell don't judge anyone that's flipped the other side of the coin. Thank you for sharing your life. I very much relate to waking up in your late 30's and noticing that this is it, your last shot at deciding to be present in your life. I am right there with you, even though my challenges are different. Take heart, you are not alone, and you got this.

March 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSteph

I don't believe in marriage, because:

1. There's been progress, lots of it, but it's still a segregated swimming pool and I can't swim there.
2. While I have been in a committed, monogamous relationship for twenty years, I see no reason to contract with anyone except my partner about my sex life.

March 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAsher


I’ve read your blog for a while now because you are a strong writer with sharp wit and an honest perspective.

Now we have something big in common. My husband of 15 years (we’ve been together 22 years) moved out this weekend. He’s rented an apartment across the street from our neighborhood (the financial aspects of this split are freaking me out!) and he’s out now with our son.

Telling our son—that was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but, after he got used to the idea, our son really seems to be OK with it, though sending him to school on Monday will be hard on him.
He’s glad my husband and I are making an effort to be friends. Deep down, I feel it was brave of my husband to say “this isn’t working” and to leave. I never would have done it—I would have just continued to slog through each miserable day, striving to make it less miserable. And now? Who knows?

It’s going to be hard and scary but there is a little joy thrown in there, too. The absence of constant tension between my husband and myself—wondering if he’s, yet again, mad about nothing. No more needing to tip toe around just to keep the peace. No more dreading the silence between us. No more wondering what I can do to improve our marriage. Just—no more. And what’s left when all that negativity is gone? There is stillness and peace. There is heartbreak. There is loneliness. But, to be honest, I was more lonely with us together than I feel with us apart.

Thanks for sharing and especially for your honesty. So often we see a marriage dissolve and call it a failure, but it’s a brave and hopeful step toward something better.

March 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJo

I'm a long time reader. I've observed as you bare your soul here and I've read on as you recount the fights, the struggle. I am so sad you guys have decided to separate but if I'm being truthful, those fights were brutal and scary. You did not fight like people who loved each other deeply. You fought like wounded animals and that is painful to witness.

I am a champion for healthy, happy marriages. I happen to be in one for almost 6 years at this point. I really held out hope that you guys would make it as it is clear how much you love each other ...But I don't think marriage is supposed to be as hard as it was/is for you and Serge. My marriage definitely takes lots of care and attention but it always feels worth it. Would I love marriage so much if I were married to anyone other than my dear husband, Ben? I don't know. I doubt it. But I met him when I was happy in every other aspect of my life. I am even happier now than when I met him. We've been through hard times, cross country moves, newborns and sleepless nights but it's only driven home how lucky we are to be together.

My hope for you is that you and Serge can find peace and teach your children how to love another person with compassion, tenderness, selflessness and devotion. Not sure those things could be learned in your previous state of unhappiness. I am sending you so much love, Monica. You are so brave to be able to recognize the dysfunction and stopping it in its tracks. You want better for your kids. You each (you,Serge, Violet, Henry and Charlie) deserve peace.

March 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKaty E

Best to you and your family. I believe in marriage- but not for everyone. My husband and I have been together almost 10 years ( ! ), married almost seven, two little boys. Occasionally I am a bit wistful for that firecracker romance stuff- but then I read a hot novel and I'm solid. My husband and I are best friends, we always have each others' backs and the love is just so deep. We don't fight much, and we have a rule about never fighting mean- words are terrible weapons and can't be taken back. Just- thanks for being so honest and giving me another moment to appreciate my (sometimes a little less than fireworks, but so sweet) marriage. And I'm rooting for you to find what's right and happy and full of grace for you.

March 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMona

Gosh! I've been checkin in for the Birth Story, and to read this... boo. Boo hoo, actually. I read Serge's writing on the link you shared and my heart breaks for the both of yous. I remember, years ago, when you wrote that you and Serge only fought when the children couldn't hear you... that they didn't know, and I commented: They know. My parents have been married for 54 years, and probably shouldn't have been. So.much.unhappiness-- and the way it tinged my childhood, well-- I'm not married, and never plan to be.

Childhood is hell for everyone, and Life Is Hard- for EVERYONE. I sincerely hope that you, Serge and the kids find your way, however that looks for your family. I hope you are all happy more than you are sad, and that many moments of peace unfold for you.

March 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Together for 30 years, married for 25.
Raised 2 kids ages 21 and 19.
I completed my treatments for cancer 2 years ago and we cherish each day we have together.

March 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBella

PS I just read 'get off my internets'... dude... there are some fucking BITTER people out there, commenting with their 'snarky' (read: hateful) opinions. After reading some of their bullshit, I had to shiver and shake to escape the negativity that was about to put me into a depressive tailspin. Delete away comments as you see fit!

March 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Just wanted to say I just found your blog and am hooked. Loved reading all the parts of your love story/initial meeting with Serge. I think you're an incredible writer. My husband and I have been married for 4.5 years. Expecting baby #2 in 2 months. We're definitely in a different phase of our relationship where schedules, careers, and child rearing trump spontaneity and romance. We honestly are sort of on a life raft depending on each other as to what comes next as far as getting through the newborn stage with a toddler in tow. I'm trying to take all that uncertainty and transform it into a deep love/connection we share- but lets be honest, we're simply going to be damn tired! My parents divorced when I was 4, but I am so happy they did. Their divorce was dysfunctional enough that marriage would have been brutal. I wish you strength, love, and support during this difficult time ahead. You are brave in realizing where you need to be right now and in the future.

March 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNoelle

All the best to your whole family as you find your way. I hope you guys have tried marriage counseling. You both seem to love each other (from what you can tell about someone by their internet writing) and that is something worth fighting for.

Me, I have been married 14 years now to a guy I knew in person for 2 weeks prior to marriage. It hasn't all been a walk in the park (because seriously, we were almost strangers when we got married!) but we love each other. We have 2 girls- almost 8 and 3 1/2.

March 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKim Q

Monica, I am happy that you can make this mature decision. I wish the best for you, Serge, and your lovely children. My parents divorced when I was six, and my only memories of them married are fighting, so perhaps early divorce is better. However, there is a difference between healthy questions and criticism and actual cyber abuse or writing a comment "to be a jerk." The responses you've made to any remotely negative comments in the past that involve threats of physical violence hardly represent the mature attitude towards commenting you pretend to have.

March 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLona

With him for 10, married for 5. Sometimes it gets overwhelming how much he annoys the shit out of me, but sometimes it's overwhelming when I think about how he is the best thing that ever happened to me. Sometimes I think we are only together because I'm scared to be without him, but other times the thought of losing him is a crushing feeling on my soul. Mostly, the thought of being without him is the worst. He makes me better. We aren't perfect, but the love is there.

I do think that it's unnatural in our nature to be with one human our whole life, but that's another story. I mentioned before that my parents divorced when I was 11, and they are so much better off separated. I wholeheartedly support divorce when it makes the parents happier and better. Kids can't be happy if the parents aren't happy.

March 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Marriage never is ideal. It has its good days, its bad days, its good years and its bad years, times that you can't stand each other, times when you revel in each other's company. But after almost 49 years of marriage I can say unequivocally, that marriage is better. I'm so saddened by what has happened to you & Serge, two people I've never met but whose lives I've shared via the writings of each of you. I hope that time apart (and therapy) works its magic on you and that you find your way back to each other with a new acceptance of what can be a happy marriage & happy family.

March 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarole

I am just so happy to see you writing here again. You sound lighter...talking about HEAVY stuff but you sound lighter. I have been with my guy for 11 years in August. We are just now trying for our first kid. I am really scared a kid will ruin everything. I also get that if that happens we weren't as solid as we thought. We are happy and seem to agree where our life is going. The unknown is just so scary...the what ifs. I loved you guys on paper. I hope you two can learn to live your lives together...holidays and birthdays, etc. Your kids can still have soooo many memories with you both in them. Really Really happy memories. Good luck...lots of love.

March 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

32 year anniversary coming up. My feelings about marriage in general, and ours in particular, is very similar to what Carole wrote. Good days and weeks and years, and some really rough ones. Times I couldn't believe how much I loved him, and times I felt I truly hated him (and I'm sure he would say the same). There are things about each other that we still don't like. But I had this hope and dream on the day we got married that in 50 years we would be sitting on a front porch in our rockers, enjoying a summer evening saying "we did it. We went through all of it The good, the bad and the ugly. And here we are". That was and is really important to me, and when times were hard, I would pull out that dream and hold on to it. I'm a few decades older than you and we're not sitting on the front porch rocking yet. But I'm so damned grateful that I had that dream 32 years ago, because I think without it I might have called it quits a few times. At this point in my life, I cannot imagine growing old with anyone else. So yes, I sure do believe in marriage.
Good luck to all of you.

March 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLynn

"Do you believe in marriage? Where are you in your marriage? How long have you been married and what are you learning about yourself, your partner, your life?"

Together for 14 years, married 11.5, with a kid. And I guess what I would say about marriage is that when people say it's always hard, that's not inevitable. I've changed a lot in that time and we've gone through external stresses but the marriage has always been *incredibly* easy.

And yet the question of whether I believe in marriage -- I really don't know. At the time I got married I was religious and he sort of was too, so there was an external reason for us to get married. Neither of us are religious anymore and other than the financial benefits, etc., I don't see much objective reason for us to be married rather than just together. But despite that I am thrilled that he is my family and I'm his.

March 31, 2014 | Unregistered Commentervictoria

Monica, I often think that in life, the hardest times are before we make a decision. Once it is made - no matter how difficult, there is a peace, a relief in that moment. I think anyone getting married at any time - it is all just a bit of a gamble isn't it? You never know what life is gonna throw at your both - without even adding kids into the bargain - and love - love isn't enough. You gotta be happy.

My marriage is no picnic (as you know). Lately we had the biggest breakthrough ever in that Husband changed jobs - having worked evenings and often weekends for all our relationship. It had meant nights were lonely, weekends single parenting for me and it was HARD. Suddenly it changed. Just like that. That one thing and it feels different. Still has it's issues - lack of money, lack of sex, lack of connecting enough - but we are still trying. I still want to be here. Even though last year I came close to having an affair. I kind of fell for someone else. He consumed my thoughts - my desires. I haven't really told anyone about this - it was someone at work and I'm not there any more. He wanted me back - it was all quite intoxicating. But not real - and it would only have ever been for lust. It would have destroyed me and my marriage so I didn't do anything about it - but the want was there - and that scared me.

I do know that life is short and yet feels long - so you need to do what makes your heart sing. What makes you feel more like you - and you sound more YOU than you have done in ages. I am proud of you. I am a longtime reader and admirer of yours. I only wish you well - both you and Serge. This is the next step of your journey and of course your feet will feel shaky. But you have your feet on the ground. So take that step and see where it takes you. Love. Sx

March 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMWD

Marriage is hard. My husband and I love each other, but I'm glad I didn't know how much work it was when we tied that knot 7 years ago. I don't have kids, but I think children are pretty resilient, and they probably would grow up to have happier memories of two parents who weren't together but liked each other and cooperated with each other in child raising. Although I don't know you and Serge personally, I have come to care about you and your children and furkids in the past couple of years that I have been reading your blogs. I feel sad to think that your troubles are something that can't be worked out. I pray for peace and happiness for you and your whole family, no matter what you decide to do.

March 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJanis

I'm so sorry Monica, for all of you, but you only have one life to live, and you ought to try your best to make it count. Know that there are a lot of people out there sending you and your family love and light. I am not a religious person at all, but you are all in my thoughts. One thing I know about the two of you, you both love your kids with everything you are. Just keep doing that. They will be okay.

"Do you believe in marriage? Where are you in your marriage? How long have you been married and what are you learning about yourself, your partner, your life?"

I do believe in marriage, I am on my second, so while I believe in it, I know sometimes that you have to leave it. We're celebrating our second anniversary next month, and we've been together for four years. We have a 6 month old. Before we had the baby, I thought the sun rose and set on my husband. We have had some personal difficulties (namely: relocation, job loss, major readjusting of our future plans) since having her, and it has been hard. I think what I've come to realize is that marriage is a lot damn harder than I ever thought it could be, but I do feel as if we are meant to be together. We fit together like a puzzle. I keep reminding myself that the personal difficulties we are dealing with are really external things, that we just have to power through, and get to the other side of, and hopefully afterwards will only be stronger for it. I am a child of divorce, and divorced, and I do believe that it is a necessary thing sometimes. I have hope for this marriage, and I hope we can stay together - but there are no guarantees in this life. All I truly care about is being a good parent and him being a good parent, and ensuring that we can give our daughter the best life possible.


March 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSam

I am sorry to read this. I hope you find peace and happiness whichever way this goes. I just wanted to put in a quick plug for marriage. take your time before you decide to chuck it altogether. I am not religious and my husband and i were married bya judge -- so no liturgical underpinnings here. No part of me thinks everyone should get married or stay married when it is not working. I have, however, been married for almost 16 years and it has been one of the most gratifying experiences of my life. I can't imagine life without my spouse. We argue and drive each other crazy but not too much. He is truly my best friend. I take great comfort in knowing that we are navigating this crazy life together and, like everyone on the planet, we have had our share of troubles. Marriage is never 50/50 which is what makes it worthwhile. Sometimes you can give the 70, 80, 90% and sometimes you are the one who takes it. Good luck to you!

March 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKelly D

I'm not a blog reader, I just searched this song and you came up. Good choice...and good luck to you, too.

March 31, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterheather

If you two are separate but able to be civil and maybe even friendly that si so much healthierfor the kids 9and you) than together and miserable.

March 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBecca

hey Monica..Good afternoon. Not the person to talk to but I am a wellspring of advice i never take. A train wreck. Okay, I had long forgotten that i was ever married, Monica. But it's true, I was once a housewife. Sex and everything. Ha! I had forgotten all about that too.. See.... I have had a chain of very interesting life events which include two marriages. I hesitate to write about them but I will tell you that if I were married now with 3 beautiful children the very LAST THING I wold ever do is put them through separation and divorce. Nope. Can you imagine the Ingall family without Pa coming home every night? The Waltons without John and Libby? Don't you think every couple has these moments? Okay i know it's rough being around the same person all the time. Please I know. Just a moment;s peace. Everyone does! So you get away.... You need your girlfriends. Space. it's healthy. time to miss each other. Going apart and coming back together. Ebb and flow. YES!!! But the extreme is to break up? I don't think so. You guys need to help each other out. If i were in your shoes, I would go to my husband and i would tell him straight out exactly what is going on inside of me that would make me feel as though life without him would be better. I WOULD hope that he would grab onto me and look me in the eyes and not run away but man up and take control of the family crisis and find out exactly what can be done to get that train back on the tracks. Fix the cracks. What ever it took. I would hope that he would not do what MY husband did which was to move me into my own little house,, It was his idea to do that and it was like giving me permission to taje leave, Noved my stuff down there and there I did remain, Tried for 2 years. Lots of counseling. NOPE.The man was just mean at the time. He did not want me...not care about having babies or anything beyond whatever floated his Ranger Walker WWF world. We are divorced for 10 years now and he wishes he never pursued that with me. SO many other options towards a healthy happy family!!! So much awesome stuff in your future. Think positive! Family Bielanko MOVE THAT BUS!! get some rest and have a nice meal together!! Maybe get some ice cream and cones!

March 31, 2014 | Unregistered Commentergeezer

I have been enjoying your blog for quite a while now. I have been married for 20 years next September and have 2 kids....17 and 14. We've had good times and rough times. Last summer I nearly kicked him to the curb. I am 47 and went into menopause early and in the last few years I've gained some weight that I can't seem to get rid of no matter how hard I try. My DH is a bit judgemental about it and basically told me he wasn't attracted to me anymore. That didn't go over so well so I told him he needed to go live somewhere else....which he didn't want to do. He doesn't want to explain it to the kids - or his parents. He ended up saying he was sorry and staying. At this point I feel like when the kids get through HS we will either find each other again or split up. We love each other, but don't always agree on parenting issues. We have the same values and in the last few years have been able to talk more about money issues and resolve a few problems. He works out of the house and I teach at a local middle school. I've always said we get along much better when he travels for work! We appreciate each other and miss each other a little. We also talk more when he is out of town. When there is an extended time where he is in town all week we fall into a routine of him in his mancave working or making music (yes, he's in a band too) and me downstairs on the computer or watching tv after work and dinner/homework help. I hope you guys are able to work it out....for now we have. Who knows what next week or year will bring.

March 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

I believe in marriage. I've been married for 16 years now. The beginning was tough because I was immature and the period when our kids were small was hard. So hard. I feel like if parents can get through child rearing (especially the younger years), they can probably get through anything. My husband treats me like a queen...he's such a gem. I got lucky, I know. Or maybe it's that I chose wisely. I wish every woman could experience a man like him. He puts me before everyone else in his life, including our children. I realize you may think that's crazy. It's harder for women to do I think. I can't do it. There is no doubt in my mind that he would lay down his life for me, in a heartbeat. And I for him. Having said all of this...if we worked together everyday and never had time apart, I would go insane. I would probably end up hating and resenting him. So I can understand why that has been hard for you guys. My wish for you both is that you will find what you're looking for in this separation. I hope time apart will help you both to see more clearly. I wish only the best for your whole family.

March 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

Life gets really expensive when you separate, in terms of money and time without your children. I'm assuming that Serge will have them a lot, if not half the time. Are you prepared to lose all those hours with them? Are you two prepared to pay for two residences? Have you been through therapy? I urge you to seek every alternative possible. That doesn't mean 'go on autopilot', it just means honestly confronting your challenges and both being committed to working through them.

April 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

I just left my husband of 13 years. Like you, I struggled with a dysfunctional relationship for a long time. I told myself it was best for our son. I also told myself that no marriage is perfect. After all, I had a horrible example to follow. I think you are very brave.

April 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

Well, since you asked, I'll answer. I'm 35. My husband is 37. We've been together for 10 years. Married for 8 years. We have a 4 year old son. We are very happy. We've had our ups and downs though. The year my son was born was brutal. We really hated each other that year. My PPD certainly didn't help the situation. A few years later we got pregnant again and decided to not go through with the pregnancy. You'd think that having an abortion would tear us apart, but instead it brought us closer together. We were on the same page and neither of us have had any regrets. We love our little family of three and have fun together every day. Life is easy and we feel complete. I'm sure there will be stormy times ahead, but I can honestly say that, at this point in my life, I can't even fathom ever divorcing. I'm not saying it won't happen. It's just not where my head is at today.

April 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterA

First, thank you for being so brave! Secondly, yes, I question marriage. I admire so, so many people, but when I look around, I don't see any marriages that I would actually want to be a part of. Zero. I think the institution is broken. Or...maybe I just haven't found the right person? I want love, security, and companionship. I'm not sure the institution of marriage has much to do with any of those things.

April 1, 2014 | Unregistered Commentersherewin

Monica, I'm sorry to hear that you and Serge have separated but I do think that this is a good decision. I wish you both the best going forward. It is very, very heartening to see you own this problem and find your way to a happy ending, even if it is apart from your husband.

I remember watching the first he said/she said that you put up. It was incredibly painful for me to watch and I never watched another. It seemed that you both were so angry. I thought at the time that anger must come from your troubling childhood, etc. etc. and that you were going to work through it - otherwise why put it up for all to see? But it was still something that made me incredibly uncomfortable to witness. Maybe I'm just a wimp, or maybe we all witnessed the amount of real bitterness in your relationship. If so, let it go - as the song says. No one should have to live with that kind of bitterness in their life every day.

You asked if I believe in marriage. I guess so, if it is a good, supportive marriage. Especially where young children are involved, I think parents should have a committed and stable relationship - whether it's apart or together. They should strive to minimize confusion and chaos.

My husband and I have been married 21+ years. We have two kids in middle school. We both work hard at our jobs. Life is not always easy and the relationship is not always rainbows and butterflies. But we support each other, we work through our differences in our own ways, and we enjoy each other's company.

I would say our biggest problems are in our different parenting styles. When we can remember to consult with each other and develop a plan together, it all goes well. When we get swept up in the moment and deal with a child's issues independently sometimes that comes back to slap us in the face. I've learned a lot about myself through my marriage and also through watching my parents' marriage (56 years). There's good and bad in every marriage I think. If the bad overwhelms you I think you are right to end the marriage.

April 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

PS. Sometimes. within the bounds of marriage, couples need to hash our differences and work things out in their own minds and hearts. They take some time to quiet themselves...just to be quiet and not HAVE to deal with all of their issues is a safer way to avoid the complications which often arise in the midst of publicized separations. My concerns with separation has everything to do with opportunists. The space required to try to reconcile differences is sadly the same spot in which well meaning and interested parties gain entry. It all starts so innocently. One person starts 'sharing' and the other 'comforting and supporting' and the next thing you know, there has been a breach of confidence. Trust is gone. The infidelity which can occur during a split is hardly worth the pain and hurt couples can cause each other. Often times the partner never recovers and trust is lost forever. I would not advertise separation online/Facebook as there are certainly well meaning 'friends' who like wolves will appear for some serious 'support' and next thing you know, the dirty is DONE and it is dirty because it completely stains the purity of a beautiful bond. I am not being religious about this but speaking from experience. Rotten disgusting experience wherein I take said FUTON and throw it flaming off of nearest mountain setting whole forest ablaze.

April 1, 2014 | Unregistered Commentergeezer

Here are 2 in-lighting books to read about marriage and divorce.
They are not written by a PhD but by a career hairdresser.
Much insight into human natural and how things almost always turn out when splitting-up.
Hope you 2 give them a read.

April 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterUtah L

Monica, Benjamin Franklin once said "Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, and half shut afterwards.". This implies that tolerance, patience and selflessness are important for a happy marriage. The thing is, although that is great for a marriage, it is often at odds with a person's self perception of whether they are happy, as an individual. I give you so much respect for honoring who you want to be and allowing yourself to go beyond the dictates of society's and religions' conventional pro-marital stance. If you separate and/or divorce it is still considered a failure and carries a huge stigma even today. (The "divorcee" is still perceived in the negative,) My mother always said "marry in haste, repent in leisure." What a dismal unfortunate life that would be, to live with such regret. I know you and Serge love each other and your children very much. I know that whatever you do, that will not change. I wish you clarity so you can make the decision that is right for you and conviction so that you do not harbor regret or resentment against each other. Best of luck. Love, ali

April 1, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterniobe19

I believe in marriage, Monica, but I do not believe in marriage at all costs. My heart wants to tell you to work on it with Serge. Commit to the couples therapy. Work through everything that has happened. You're both wonderful and can make it work. But the truth is I can't know that because as faithfully as I read what you and Serge write, the only people who can know what is right are the people in the one else. I hope you are doing some couples counseling and I hope you figure it out, whatever "it" ends up being.

I will have been with my husband for 19 years this summer and married for 17 years this summer. He and I are so fortunate in that we are committed to each other, we "get" each other, we line up in so many ways. He pursued me all those years ago and I ran in the opposite direction for awhile because he didn't fit the image I had in my mind of the kind of guy I was interested in. I am so grateful for his persistence, because the kind of guy I was interested in was the kind of guy so many young women go for: the kind of guy who is exciting and interesting and hot...and ultimately wrong for you. When I stopped and thought about how wonderful this man was, I realized I had to give dating him a shot and the way he treated me while we were dating was such a revelation. He was (and is) so patient. He saw my flaws and accepted them and loved me anyway. He never raised his voice at me in anger. And I can honestly say that I have treated him the same way.

Why does this matter? Because of course we have disagreements, like every couple. Of course we get mad as hell at each other, like every couple. But when we do and we need to talk through something, we have always -- every single time -- talked through it. Yes, we may have been angry. Yes, there may have been anger and hurt and frustration in our eyes. Yes, there have been times when there has been an edge in both of our voices. But we have never yelled at each other. We have never said horrible, nasty things that we can't take back -- things that linger in the back of the mind and come back to the front the next time you're angry. We don't have that baggage.

We are lucky because that's how both of our parents' relationships are too. There was only one time in my life when my parents had a yelling match with each other and it scared the ever living shit out of my brothers and me. I thought they were going to get divorced. It was so, so upsetting. But at the dinner table that night, we all discussed it and my parents apologized to us and assured us it was okay and we moved on. But I never, ever forgot it. I could practically recite every word the two of them said (screamed!) right now, more than 30 years later. And husband and I have treated each other the way our parents modeled the spousal relationship.

My parents' relationship is not perfect. My in-laws' relationship is not perfect. And my relationship with my husband is not perfect. There are times he annoys the crap out of me. There are times when the sex is routine and meh. But it always cycles around again and gets hot again. I can honestly say that I do not look at anyone else's relationship and think, "I wish my husband and I had THAT or could be like THAT." Never.

I'm not saying any of this to brag or take down anyone else's marriage. What I am trying to say is that marriage can be great when it starts off on the right foot and both people in it choose to keep it on that right foot. It's not that I never notice another man. It's not that I never fantasize about being with another man. But I can't imagine ever acting on it because what I have is too good.

The kind of marriage I have is what I want for you and Serge. I think it would be lovely if the two of you could get to that place together. But if you can't, I sincerely hope both of you can get there with other people.

I'm glad I came to the conversation too late to read the hateful comments. Keep deleting them! Be strong. Be contemplative. Figure it out and grab your happiness by the horns and never, ever let it go.

Warmest thoughts with all of you. And please keep writing.

April 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKristin

hi Monica- Having been down that road ( going down it right now), I simply believe that you must do what you must, that you know your situation best and it is your business. and that you know your situation best. Life and love are an ongoing event with twists and turns and things you really don't count on. Sometimes we make choices which we later regret but that's all part of the journey. Love comes through. You are still a family. It may take time to bring it all to a head to see and feel the bare reality of what you both mean to each other. There may be heartaches to heal and stuff you need to hash out, but time is yours and it is worth the wait and time to come to realize that love has a strand of it's own in your relationship. I guess...a separate power to heal. Anyway, You have your reasons and it is your own business and I respect you privacy." Love is the purpose": said one corny but sincere word whisperer.

April 2, 2014 | Unregistered Commentergina

We've only been married for 9 months, so I guess we are still in what they call the honeymoon phase. Ours was such a whirlwind romance with so much distance and heartbreak and longing involved that I can honestly say, I cherish every day of waking up next to each other. I am sure that there will be problems and times of confusion or miscommunication, I just hope that we will learn how to deal with those problems along the way. I also think that in many ways we had no idea what we were getting into (and maybe we still don't) but we both knew for sure that this is what we wanted. We chose each other to share everything with, including all the struggle and hard work a marriage means. So I am looking forward to whatever life might bring and hope that we won't lose sight of why we wanted to form this bond.
I hope it works out for you... Please don't give up until you have tried absolutely everything. But indeed, space sounds like a good ide right now.

April 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEsther

I am very young (25) so my advice or opinion isn't much but coming from parents that stuck together and fought all the time, I knew I didn't want that for my kids. (2 girls: 6yrs and 3yrs) That being said, my husband and I have been together for 10 and a half years and have been married for going on 7 years. Part of me believes in true love and soul mates and the other part of me believes that love is a choice and that you can be a partner with anyone if you are willing to put in the time and effort to get to know each other, get interested in each others hobbies, and know how best to react to one another. During our dating years we were perfect. He was a doting boyfriend, very romantic and funny. Our first year of marriage was fairly easy, we were teen parents so you would think you'd be a really hard but looking back I realize that I was on autopilot just like you going through the motions and letting him get away with a lot of things that I don't let him get away with now. I didn't voice my opinions. I just went with the flow. Year 2 and3 were a lot more difficult because coming out of autopilot I realized that there were a lot of things I didn't like about our relationship and his family didn't make it any easier. We argued a lot and I was pretty unhappy. I was pretty immature. I would yell, break down and cry a lot. Some times I wanted to give up but I was afraid I could not support myself financially and I didn't want to go back to living with my parents plus I love him very much and I couldn't imagine living without him so we kept at it. Years 4 and 5 were all about learning how to best handle our arguments and how to compromise. Learning which buttons not to push and knowing when to draw the line. How to choose your battles . I'm glad to say that this 6th year is a lot easier. I'm glad we have decided to walk through life together and I only hope that we some day get to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. Good luck to you and your family.

April 2, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteralejandra

My husband and I are also separated at the moment - not because of falling out of love, but because of a broken marriage. His cheating and my inability to forgive him for his lies. :-(

I love him very much but don't see how we work it out if he isn't willing to go to counseling. I believe that he loves me very much, but that didn't stop him from making some very bad choices.

Thanks for sharing your life here, and good luck to you.

April 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAndee

Hi Monica deep shit you've written .... I'm almost 26 ( I still seek the approval from complete strangers that I'm a mature for my age) I have a 5 year old daughter and both me and the father of my child (30) come from broken homes. We have been together on and off for 10 years. I love the guy but we are completely dysfunctional. For many years I was obsessed with making it work and as I look back I realize that the red flags were there since the beginning. When we first started dating we had this crazy connection and we couldn't get enough of each other, as time passed we both stayed together mostly because we didn't want to end up broken like our parents. we never had the normal arguments. We were either really good or really fucked. There was no medium ... the cheating, the lies, the not growing up with affection really made me stay. the little love he gave me I was fine with for a very long time. I also felt like I was on auto pilot. Then one day I woke up and I realized that I was not happy. That I wasn't setting a good example for my daughter, as much as I wanted it to work it just wasn't going to happen. I don't want my daughter to repeat the same mistakes. I wanted to break the cycle and I feel happy and scared of the unknown. there's times were I self sabotage and think that I should go back to my old ways. I want to go back to auto pilot because I feel alone like a scared rabbit in the wild. But then I think about it and I just have to keep moving forward. I believe in marriage but both people have to be in the same page... well at least the same chapter. I see and feel the difference as time goes by, thankfully the one thing we do agree on is our daughter. We are both kick ass parents and I no longer feel guilty that my daughter wont know what a healthy relationship is based on her role models (dad and mom). She will get to know 2 people that love her deeply and will always be there because at the end of the day we aren't together but we are still a family.

April 2, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjust me

being a child of divorce, im glad they did. step-dad....meant well, but did it completely wrong.
i was happy being the child of a single mother with visits from my dad infrequently, before the second marriage.

do i believe in marriage? the jury is still out. my hub and i got married b/c neither of us were employed once our child was due to arrive. we needed medical we got married.

would we have done it otherwise? im not sure.....would we have stayed together? most likely.
am i happy being married? off and on. mostly on lately.

do what you have to do. don't worry about snoopy others' opinions.

April 2, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterrach

for whatever reason, i have to admit that, after i randomly found your blog, years ago, around the time of your marriage to serge, i ended up falling in love with you...
your early stories, the chronicle of your journey with serge, your insights, what you wrote and what i read between the lines, transformed the initial infatuation into a kind of love... of course, your pictures and the fact that i was starting to question my marriage both helped, too...
i commented here and there on some of your posts... and then, once it sounded like you are on your way towards a somewhat set path, i started to distance myself from your blog... i read it only occasionally, and, maybe because of that, i even started to feel i was disagreeing with some of your stances, which was a departure from the times when i felt everything was exactly the way you craftily and, often, uniquely described...
i was somehwat shocked to read your last two entries... you gave your readers signs that something maybe was not right, but i did not realize you were resetting your soul-searching button...
anyway... i already gave my thoughts in a prior post... not that they matter... and not that they include any answers... but, on the bright side, i have always had the questions to your answers...
once again... good luck!

April 3, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterfahrenheit

First - divorce and kids. Kids are resilient and adaptable. I do not have kids yet, but I do have a stepson. His parents split up when he was a toddler. My husband always made sure to take the higher ground, give in when it came to fights if that meant best interests of his son, and it has paid off. Many years later everybody is getting along, the kid has great relationships and spends lots of time with both parents (it helps that everybody lives in the same neighborhood).
Second - marriage. I have been married for almost 3 years, together for 8. It is a second marriage for both of us. In the first couple of years of our relationship (before marriage) we did a lot of painful "soul searching." Once we figured out that we really wanted to be together, it has been wonderful. We fit together really well, and I do not find marriage to be hard or to be work. In all the stress of life, my relationship with my husband is where I draw my strength from. That being said, as a divorcee, I do not believe that marriage is "forever" just because I have a ring on my finger. Stay strong!

April 3, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter--

As so many people have said before, I so appreciate your honesty. It's basiically why you're the only blog I read anymore, the rest have lost their spark.

I've only been married for less than a year, but we've been together for going on 8 years. I like to think that "dating" (though we lived together -with his parents- for 5 of those years, and 1 in our own home), is going to be key to our "success" in marriage. I walked down the isle with no questions or apprehensions. I knew EXACTLY who I was marrying. I knew that he throws his garbage in the sink rather than the garbage can, that he doesn't pick up his dirty laundry, but also that he's a fabulous cook (and enjoys it!), is fiercely loyal, and makes up little songs about how much he loves me. We spent a lot of years building a solid foundation. We broke up around 3 times over our relationship, and the last time we established that it was make or break. We either tried to figure our shit out or moved on. And we worked hard! I think we each showed each other we thought the other was worth it. And shockingly it changed everything. Our relationship became something it didn't know could exist. That was probably around 4 years ago. I think had we gotten married before that, we may never had made it work. We may have felt trapped and that working it out was forced because of a piece of paper and not because we wanted it, which would have meant less to both of us, and proved nothing. I'm speculating of course, but it's how I feel. I feel so strongly that building a solid foundation before getting married is key to happiness. Now of course everything may change 5 years from now, but I'm glad we at least have such a strong start. However, if you asked me 5 years ago if I thought waiting 7 years to get married was what I would have wanted I would of course have said no lol, but hindsight is 20/20.

I guess my question for those who have separated from their spouse is, when in your marriage did your unhappiness start? Did you ever feel 100% confidant in your relationship / partner? As confidant as I am, as the child of divorced parents I'm always aware that it could happen at any point down the road, and it terrifies me.

April 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMandy

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