I met my ex-husband Ian at a costume party. He was Vulcan and I was Iris. We talked, but we were both dating other people at the time, so that was that.
Two or three years later we met again, and this time it was trouble. While I was living out of state my boyfriend got a new job, and made friends with Ian. Shortly after I moved back, we all wound up going out to dinner together, and for some reason Ian and I really hit it off. My boyfriend hadn’t been spending much time at home, so when Ian started calling, he talk to me instead of my boyfriend. I broke up with my boyfriend, moved out, and Ian and I promptly started dating.
He started spending almost every night at my place. Three months after we started dating we rented an apartment together, and got handfasted. This is an agreement to live together as a married couple for a year and a day, with an option to renew. Four months after that, we married in secret; eight months after that we held a large family wedding. Two years and two weeks after THAT, we were legally divorced.
What happened? To start with, I should say that we were one of those couples who make everyone wonder what we saw in each other. When we met, Ian had a nose ring, a smoking habit, and a skull tattoo. I had a vegan diet and four pair of Birkenstocks. The attraction seemed obscure to everyone, including us.
It’s difficult to recall those early feelings because they vanished when we split up. When we started dating, I couldn’t get him off my mind. All day I thought about him, about things he had said and done. I saved up things to tell him. In person, I felt a magnetic pull toward him. In spite of his short stature, heavy belly and poor skin I found him terribly sexy (maybe because of my Cancer Sun and his Cancer Moon.?).
We were both on the rebound from breakups with long-term live-in lovers who wanted us back, and were constantly calling and writing. We spent much of our time talking about the pain of the breakups, and of being cheated on. Over and over we told each other “If you ever cheat on me, I swear I’ll kill you!”. So at first a common feeling of desperate loyalty united us – each sought in the other a validation of those vengeful, angry, jealous grudges; and of course we wanted absolution from any sort of wrongdoing or unfairness to our former partners.
We also compared notes on our childhoods. Both of us felt we had suffered from poverty, violent surroundings, and family unfairness. Again it revolved around the “why does this keep happening to me?” paradigm. This quickly turned into a contest: who suffered more? In spite of the obvious stalemate we wrestled with this topic for years.
Ian criticized me continually. One example: the first time I wore lingerie to impress him, he told me it made me look funny, and he made me change into something else. I was challenged by this attitude of his; I felt there must be something wrong with me. I felt a bit grateful that I had “met my match” and he wouldn’t ”let me get away with anything” – clearly I must have needed the discipline. On the other hand, I dished it out too. I was constantly raising the bar on how much we recycled, how much of our commuting was by bicycle, whether we did volunteer work in the community. Ian had no response to counter my insistence that we weren’t trying hard enough, so he went along with it.
One would think a sensible person might eventually tire of all this, and go elsewhere, but these conversations (read “battles”) seemed terribly important at the time. Also, we occasionally talked about other things. We went to a great many movies and ate great quantities of restaurant food, so we were somewhat insulated.
A favorite topic for me was The Future, in which I wanted to own a house with a garden, or perhaps even a small farm. I intended to write full time and travel, so during our marriage I went back to school and worked on a certificate to teach English as a Second Language. Ian went along with these plans of mine, which I came back to over and over; so I felt that we could live comfortably together. He didn’t have and plans of friends of his own. I had convinced myself that I could make a marriage work with absolutely anyone; that I was tolerant enough to overlook even the most pernicious flaws. I believed the important things in a relationship were to share goals, and enjoy similar interests. According to this I might as well marry the first person who qualified!
This is important, because this is where everything fell apart. Apparently Ian never had any interest in my dreams of traveling or organic farming, or even home ownership. I got an inkling of this when I learned he had spent our house savings behind my back. It was driven home completely a few months later when he asked for the divorce. He said he could no longer pretend to be someone he wasn’t, and that he had gone along with my ideas because he wanted to be with me.
I had lived in denial during my marriage, and it was easy to do. Ian had converted to veganism and bicycle commuting, so I had confirmation that we shared values. While he sat at his computer, and I read, there was no pressing reason to think about the seamy side of our life. We threw dinner parties, and everyone complimented our food and our housekeeping. We rode bikes together, went to movies; therefore we shared interests. Of course we were happy!
It didn’t occur to me until much later that there might be a connection between my marriage and my sudden development of fibromyalgia, a chronic illness that often left me bedridden. I gained twenty pounds. I developed a nodule on my thyroid gland. I fell and sprained my back. I had trouble with lost appetite. I ground my teeth so badly that I punctured the enamel on one tooth. Finally, I developed carpal tunnel syndrome, and lost my job. I saw a chiropractor, an acupuncturist, a massage therapist, and a Chinese herbalist, yet still felt plagued by mysterious aches, pains and symptoms with no explanation. Happily, now that I’m divorced I am fit as a fiddle, and ride my bike 12 miles a day with no negative consequences.
My marriage had a dark and weird side to it. Looking back it seems shocking – at the time I didn’t even blink at it. Ian scared me. I would get up in the night in the dark to use the bathroom. Ian would get out of bed and stand in the bedroom doorway waiting for me. Although I knew he was the only person in the apartment, I would see him looming in the dark and I would let out a bloodcurdling scream! I could never explain my reaction, and he always got quite annoyed with me. In spite of this embarrassing thing it happened several times.
Also we had sex issues. I nearly always bled during sex. Ian could never get enough, and badgered me constantly about it. Sometimes I would be talking about something completely unrelated and he would make a non sequitur that made it clear he was thinking about it again. At one point before we were married, he told me he wasn’t getting enough from me, and if I didn’t provide it he would find someone who would. Even when I had a dislocated hip he couldn’t understand my lack of desire. We fell into a pattern in which he would beg, I would reject him, and he would masturbate next to me in bed. Oddly, he was flabbergasted when I told him I would no longer have sex with him after he filed for divorce. I believe it was “over” for him when he realized marriage didn’t guarantee him sexual release on command. Incidentally this is not something I had a problem with before, and it hasn’t come up since either.
Clearly, by any standard, Ian and I made a poor match. Even when we met it should have been obvious to me that we had little in common. In truth, not a single one of our life goals matched, other than the basic urge to survive. We certainly didn’t look like a matched set. We wasted all kinds of time fighting about stupid things. We never wanted to leave a party at the same time, we didn’t like the same people, we didn’t even like the same colors; yet there was this mysterious compulsion to be together, even in misery!
When we split up it was like a fog lifted from around me, and suddenly it seemed I could see everything so clearly. I made several major life changes with ease; my health problems just drifted away effortlessly. I started keeping a journal again. New friends materialized, including many who said they had always felt drawn to me, but didn’t like my husband, and so stayed away. There were some difficulties related to the fact that Ian threw me out when I was unable to earn an income, but they too passed away.
It’s possible that I’m more attracted to Plutonic relationships than the average person because there is so much Pluto influence in my chart. With Scorpio rising and the Moon in Scorpio it makes sense that the intensity and focus of Pluto influences is where my “comfort” zone is. Currently I’m working to understand this side of myself better; really, there is no point in suffering without being able to learn from it.
I hope that my story might help at least one other person recognize an unhappy situation and find the courage to get out of it. RUN! It just isn’t worth sticking around; no, it really is not possible to change your partner. I can tell you now that when you recognize that “deer in the headlights” feeling around a person, you can shield yourself from getting sucked in. It can be an endless vortex that could develop into any bad pattern you can name.