It’s time to let you know about a big personal change that’s happening with Erin and me. We’ve decided to separate, and we’re planning to get a divorce.
We came to this decision very consciously, and we’re separating amicably because we can see it’s the best thing for both of us. We intend to remain good friends and continue working together, so as far as our blogging is concerned, it’s going to be business as usual for the time being.
Over the years we’ve both noticed that our goals and desires were pulling us in different directions. When we talked about our future together, we each had a different vision of what we wanted to create and experience. That didn’t seem like a big deal at first, especially since there was a lot of overlap, but when those visions began to manifest and take shape, we had to start dealing with the incompatibilities that came up.
At first we tried to keep pace with each other and made compromises to that effect, but that only made both of us unhappy. Eventually we realized we’d both be happier if we ended our marriage, not by going our own separate ways per se, but by transitioning our relationship into something other than a marriage. We love each other enough to see that we must allow each other the freedom to pursue our own individual dreams.
Erin and I already worked out most of the details of our separation. Since we own two houses that are only 6 miles apart, and one house was vacant, deciding on the living arrangements wasn’t too difficult.
On Friday Erin and the kids moved into our other house. Erin bought some new furniture and appliances for the place, and we moved some furniture from our existing home. We lived there for a few years (2005-2007), so it’s a familiar environment. Since it’s a 4-bedroom home, Erin has her own bedroom and a home office, and the kids each have their own bedrooms too. It’s plenty of space for 3 people.
For now I’m staying in the larger house by myself. It might seem that Erin and the kids should take the bigger house while I move into the smaller one, but the financial realities make that an unwise choice in the long run. Although we’ve been paying down the mortgages on both homes much faster than we need to, the Vegas housing slump and the local unemployment rate (currently around 14%) has caused home prices to fall even faster, so neither home has any equity right now. We’d prefer to own the homes we live in and not overcomplicate things, and Erin favored the smaller home with the smaller costs, so I’m getting the bigger house with the bigger debt and expenses.
Erin and I are both pleased with this arrangement. It took a while for our friends and family to understand it, but it makes sense to us, and ultimately we’re both getting what we want. By taking the smaller home/mortgage, Erin will have more flexibility to move to another home if she so desires, and her living expenses will be well within her means. I don’t mind taking on more of a financial burden in this case, not just with the bigger mortgage but with alimony and childcare payments too.
It’s a bit weird to be living in a 6-bedroom house all by myself though. It’s a huge amount of space for just one person (4300 square feet), and even with a guest room and my home office, 3 of the rooms are totally empty right now. This will take some getting used to. I’ll probably be living here for a while though because I like the house, I like living in Las Vegas, and I definitely don’t want to sell in this housing market. Since this community has a rather strict homeowner’s association, I’m somewhat limited in what I’m able to do with the house. So for now I’ll just have to treat it as my private batcave and surrender to the weirdness of it.
As for what we’re going to do with the business, we’re still working out the details there, but we’re close to an agreement on the major items. Suffice it to say that the business will continue running as usual. It would be a lot harder if we weren’t on such good terms with each other. The most important asset we both want to maintain is each other’s goodwill.
Our kids (ages 6 and 9) are handling this transition pretty well. Las Vegas is a place where divorce is pretty common, so our kids have friends that have seen their parents get divorced. Emily was a bit concerned about it at first, but she’s gradually adjusting to it. Kyle is young enough that he sees this transition as more of an adventure. They’ll continue going to the same school (at least for the rest of the year), and they’re living in a home that’s still familiar to them, so the changes aren’t as dramatic as they might otherwise be.
Most likely Erin will get sole custody of the kids, and I’ll be paying some child support. That seems to be the best arrangement for both of us, given our future goals. Neither of us wants to subject the kids to a shared custody arrangement where they live part-time in two different homes. We think it’s much better for them to live in a single stable home.
Erin and I share many friends in common, and we hope to keep it that way. We let our friends know that we’re still on good terms with each other, and we don’t want anyone thinking they must take sides. This transition might be a little weird, but the last thing we’d want to do is alienate our dearest friends.
Many of our friends have been through divorces themselves, and in a city like Las Vegas, there isn’t much of a social stigma attached to it. In some ways it’s almost the opposite: Ahhh… your first divorce… welcome to the club! That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much.
Here are some answers to a few questions that I figure some people will ask us.
Did you know about this before or during the October workshop?
No, this decision was made afterwards. It was partly the awareness-raising effect of the workshop itself that encouraged us to take a deeper look at our relationship. If you had told me at the start of the workshop that this is where we’d be today, I wouldn’t have believed you.
We meant what we said during the workshop segment on conscious relationships. Although we’re ending our marriage, we intend to continue relating to each other in various ways, so the same principles still apply. When I talked about consciously breaking up, I didn’t think we’d be applying those ideas to our own relationship that same month. Life can be funny that way.
It’s possible we may both share the stage again at the January workshop and talk about what we’ll have learned between now and then. That depends on whether or not we think our personal lessons can provide substantial value for others.
Human relationships have a lot of fluidity to them, and marriage is only one of many forms they can take. In this case the most conscious decision we can make to improve our relationship is to end our marriage.
The nice thing is that the universal principles we talked about during the workshop still apply to a separation and/or divorce. In that case, it’s about recognizing and accepting the truth of your situation, deciding what you both need to be happy, and taking action to ensure that both people end up in a better place. Perhaps one of the most important principles to apply in this case is courage. Courage is especially vital when the short-term prediction may seem negative at first, but the long-term prediction looks much brighter.
Did polyamory play a role in this?
To a certain extent, yes. It helped us discover new truths about ourselves.
This year we both opened ourselves up to having deeper intimate connections with other people. This was a bit of an exploration process. It gave both of us more clarity to see that our marriage wasn’t the best vehicle for our long-term happiness. We were happy in some areas but not in others. We had reached a dead-end and needed to let go of the marriage to get around it. Otherwise we’d end up working harder and harder trying to make each other happy, with worsening results.
I learned that I really enjoy relationships based on a deep emotional connection, openness, honesty, trust, compatible interests, and having fun together. I definitely want to have more of that in my life. But I found it very awkward to do this within the scope of my marriage. It was like trying to straddle two different worlds. An open marriage is practically a contradiction in terms. I found that I resonated more with the concept of openness than with the concept of marriage.
Erin and I realized that we were disempowering each other by giving too much power to the marriage itself. It was as if we somehow owned each other’s hearts and had to keep checking in and asking permission for anything we wanted to do intimacy-wise. We went out of our way to avoid serious misunderstandings and to check in with each other’s feelings, but the communication burden become insane after a while. It was a fun thing to explore, and I don’t have any regrets about it, but I wouldn’t want to keep this up long-term within a marriage structure.
I’m reminded of the quote from Kahlil Gibran: “Let there be spaces in your togetherness.” Erin and I had become so close that we were smothering each other. We both needed to step back and give each other more freedom, and ultimately that led us to step right out of the marriage itself.
It’s fair to say that polyamory was a catalyst for ending our marriage, but only partly. Another catalyst behind that one was my decision to get into raw foods. That’s partly what spawned this exploration of intimacy in the first place. Eating raw is an emotional amplifier. I had to learn to start processing the emotions I was feeling because they couldn’t be so easily dismissed.
But an even deeper causal factor beneath that was my commitment to conscious growth. The desire to relate to other people as consciously as possible eventually made it impossible to continue giving my power away to an external structure like a marriage. That was a problem for both of us. For years we fell into the trap of treating the marriage as something more powerful than ourselves, something we must preserve at all costs even when it didn’t make us happy to do so. I’m glad we finally saw the folly in that mindset.
It’s too soon to answer that question in much detail. For starters Erin and I will need some space to adapt to our lives as single people. It will probably take about a month for us to feel settled into our new routines.
Beyond that we still have some details to work out regarding the divorce. We’re not in a rush, but we’d like to have that figured out by the end of the year. Since we’re splitting up amicably, it shouldn’t be that tough to work it out.
At this point we’re taking it one day at a time.
Although our marriage is ending, Erin and I still expect to remain good friends. We want to thank you in advance for your patience and support during this time. After 15+ years together, it will take time for us to navigate this transition and adapt to life as single people again. We know, however, that this is the right direction for us and for our children, and we’re letting go consciously and with great love and regard for each other.