J has talked several times over the years about wanting to separate. Fed up with my workaholism and just-about-functioning alcoholism, she put her career largely on hold to develop her own addictions: homism and familyism.
For my part, I never really took it seriously that she might actually want to get rid of a husband and father as great as me. I consoled myself that – like the rest of her family – she was simply crap at relationships, but also that she would learn, eventually and gratefully, how to be different.
Yet as the fog lifts over our emptying nest, I now think that – as usual – she has been years ahead of me in her thinking. We are not well suited, and never were. Perhaps we could be better friends and better parents to our nearly grown children if we were to separate. She could find someone who actually likes going to Church and can tolerate her moods. I could find someone who actually enjoys relaxing and having sex (i.e. with me).
I am nearly ready to concede defeat, and know that there is no going back once I do. However, my nagging fear is that our kids are very invested not just in their parents being together, but also in the idea of their black and white parents being together. For them, being different has not been easy, and to have united and proud parents has protected them from the finger-pointing and whispering.
As I enter my fifties, I want to free myself from domestic misery and fear, and I suspect that J wants this too. But is it an unforgivable betrayal of our mixed family? Do we not have a responsibility to be bigger than that?