Three years to the day later, we were married.
Cue the romantic music. Fade out. Credits.
Sounds just like some great movie, right? It's a great story. Jen and I have told that story to people for nearly 5 years. When people ask us how we met, it's cool to say, "We met on a movie set." It always gets a great reaction. So when we started telling our friends and family recently that we have decided to split up, it came as a bit of a shock to everyone. Including, and especially, to us. But real life isn't like the movies; there are no guaranteed happy endings. We don't have an omniscient director guiding our every move. Award-winning screenwriters aren't plotting the destinies of the two young lovers who "met cute" on a film set. Life is what it is, and sometimes things don't work out the way people expect them to. It's not always tragic when it happens. Sometimes it's exactly the way it's supposed to be. It's sad and it hurts and it makes you cry, but after you wipe away the tears and really listen to your heart, you know it's just the way it is.
The truth is, Jen and I love each other very much. And there are things in our relationship that work like gangbusters. We support each other, we inspire each other, we bring out the best in each other. I know I am forever a better person for having Jen in my life. She has given me so much and taught me so much about myself. She makes me want to be a better person every single day. And I know that the reason for all the good things in our relationship is that we have always been totally honest with each other. We can and do tell each other everything. There is nothing I can't tell her, and she the same with me. The irony is that because of that honesty, we have decided to split up.
No relationship is perfect, and ours is no different. We found each other at the exact right time and place in each of our lives. We didn't realize it at the time, but we each had a piece of what the other person was missing in some way: Love. Stability. Encouragement. Comfort. Love. We were both alone and lost in the wilderness, but somehow we found each other. It really was like something out of a movie. But from the very beginning, no matter how quickly and completely we were drawn to each other, there was still something missing. Something intangible. A spark is the only way to describe it. That feeling you get deep down on a purely romantic level that words just can't explain. We've looked for it many times, but for whatever reason, that quality is just missing between us. We both realized it when we first met, but at the time it didn't matter. At that time in our lives, we needed each other for all the other reasons. But as time has passed and our relationship has grown, we have both come to realize that we love each other too much to ignore it any longer. It is painful and difficult and hard to admit to one another, but to pretend that it doesn't matter would mean we would have to stop being honest with each other, and that's not how our relationship works. At first, we tried to figure out how to fix it, like there was something broken. But the truth is, it didn't really break. You can't fix something that has never existed in the first place. It doesn't make it any less painful, it just is what it is. Jen is my best friend, and I am hers. And the only way for us to remain best friends is for us to stop being husband and wife. Because if we don't, even though we still love each other now, one day, be it one year, five years, or ten years down the line, we will wind up resenting or blaming or hating each other for pretending that nothing is wrong, and the thought of that is a thousand times more painful than the thought of splitting up. I can survive losing my wife, but I can't survive losing my best friend.
In many ways, Jen and I are different people than when we met. We've both grown and changed and evolved. We have different goals and interests and dreams than we did that cold morning in Anniston. We're not mad or angry or upset with each other about it. In fact, as strange as it sounds, once we finally admitted to each other that something was missing in our relationship, we were both relieved. The elephant could leave the room now. It's been weird and sad and confusing wrapping our heads around this whole thing, and we've talked about it extensively from every possible point of view, but we both agree that this is the only honest decision we can make. It sucks and it hurts and it's going to be a huge life change for us both, but it is the right decision for us to make. I will always treasure my marriage to Jen, and I know she feels the same. I don't regret a second of the time we've spent together, and I know we will always be part of each other's lives. Some people might think we're being rash, or that we need to give it more time. But that's what people do when they're trying to be polite with each other. Polite and honest are two very different things. Love is no reason to be polite.