Kids, come sit with your dad a while and let me tell you a little story. It’s about your mother and I, and how all of us came to be the family we are today. Go ahead and roll your eyes—I know you might think your dad’s being sappy—but one day, when you grow up and meet that special someone you decide to spend the rest of your life with, you’ll be glad I shared this with you.
It’s the story of how your mom and I first fell out of love with each other.
I won’t ever forget that day. It must have been about 10 years ago. You were just starting kindergarten, Hailey—and Jacob, you were still a baby! It happened one summer morning. Your mom and I were both standing in the kitchen. Maybe it was the way the sunlight filled the room, bathing her face in this certain glow. I suppose I won’t ever know for sure, but all of a sudden something happened deep down inside me, and out of nowhere I realized I felt absolutely nothing for your mother anymore. Nothing at all.
What’s more, I knew she felt absolutely nothing for me. We didn’t say it out loud. We didn’t need to. Looking at each other, we somehow understood we’d both found the one person in this world who would make us unhappy for the rest of our lives. And we both knew, after that single glance, that nothing would ever be the same again.
Sure enough, from then on there was hardly a spare moment in the day when we didn’t find an excuse to be apart. Nothing made us more content than to avoid looking into each other’s eyes, sometimes for hours at a stretch.
And I’m sorry if it embarrasses you kids to hear this, but there were times when your mom and I couldn’t keep our hands far enough away from each other! All it took was the slightest touch for the two of us to be filled with irresistible repulsion.
It’s hard to explain the affinity we no longer felt for each other. Though we’d been together for many years, it somehow felt as though we’d been complete strangers our entire lives.
I remember calling up your uncle Peter and saying, “Pete, you’re not going to believe this, but I’ve finally found the woman who’s going to make me miserable until the day I die—and all this time she was right there in front of me.” I’ll never forget the dumbfounded silence on the other end of the line, followed by his awkward, though well-meaning, condolences.
Since then, the deep-seated bitterness and resentment your mother and I feel for each other has only grown. Over the years, the first frost we felt in our hearts that day has become a deep freeze, making our blood run colder and colder. And somehow we’re still finding ways to fall a little more out of love each day. Our aversion just keeps growing stronger and more unbearable, even during the good times when I don’t see her that much and start working up the courage to leave.
So that’s how it happened! I’m sorry if this is more than you kids wanted to hear about your parents. It’s just a little something to think about the next time you see your old mom and dad listlessly gazing away from each other in mutual disgust. Chances are we’re off in our separate fantasy worlds daydreaming about a future in which we’re always apart and have somehow found a way to escape this little slice of hell on earth we’ve made together.
And who knows? The day may come when you yourself will fall out of love with someone, experiencing that single, earth-shattering moment when you realize the person you once considered your closest friend is now completely unrecognizable to you.
If so, maybe you’ll look back on your mom and dad’s story and wonder whether the only reason people have been put on this earth is to make each other miserable.