August approaches. It's a significant month for me. It was the month the Ex and I went on our first date and got engaged. On our first date, no shit. And it's the month All Hell Broke Loose 29 years later when the skeletal remnants of my 27 year marriage disintegrated around my ankles. But that's a story for another day. Maybe.
Suffice it to say that as brutal as it was, I learned some valuable lessons. As I was picking my way out of the rubble, one idea I toyed with was the Get Out of Marriage Free Card. The first time the phrase fell out of my mouth I was probably being flip and didn't even think about what I was saying. Actually, that's highly likely because that's how I am most of the time.
But the idea of The Card stuck with me and I found myself repeatedly examining the concept. What would it be like, instant freedom to just walk away; no guilt, no consequences, no questions asked?
I decided that if I had been handed one, say, three years earlier, I probably would have taken it, even though at that time I had no conscious thoughts about ending my marriage. That both startled and fascinated me. I wondered how other people in long-term (20+ year) marriages might react.
I can't help but believe that acknowledging how you really feel, even if it's a painful and somewhat menacing concept, has got to be way healthier than sticking your fingers in your ears and shouting 'LA-LA-LAAA' at the top of your lungs for the rest of your life. And honestly considering whether you would snatch The Card and run might allow you to take a step toward.... something. Which is usually better than a step toward nothing, or no step at all.
It might mean taking a chance, shaking things up a bit, and working on finding a new, better balance in the relationship. Or maybe it means accepting that in a perfect world, you would choose to move on.
And if throwing your panties and a credit card in your purse and disappearing into the night isn't possible -- or it seems impossible -- simply acknowledging it might well start a process of personal change without taking any noticeable action at all. You know, the butterfly effect and all that. If you can't change your situation, you can at least change yourself.
So what would you do if you were handed The Card? If spouse and society gave you permission to just walk away, and any concern that could possibly stop you -- kids, house, finances, family, friends, vinyl record collection -- were all magically taken care of to your satisfaction?
Would you take it?