To the guy who wants to leave

My response to a guy who posted to a forum who was contemplating leaving his wife of three years. Ended up being kind of a manifesto on fatherhood and marriage that made me think of my father and how he said exactly the same thing to me, but through the way he lived his life when I was a boy. Thanks Dad.

Dude, both your thoughts and feelings are correct. You are being selfish. And your feelings are totally natural and valid.

Who would blame you for feeling the way you do? You’re young with a lot of energy and potential and a wide world of prospects in front of you. You are now confronting the idea of Forever. Your relationship with your wife is no longer New and we all like that feeling of New. The idea of verging on Fatherhood scares the shit out of many good men. Yes, the grey days of responsibility will clamp down around you and you cannot just up and take that adventurous transfer to Lima or buy the Harley and take a four week rambling trek across Baja. Many of us want to be someone extraordinary and being a family man seems so, well, ordinary.

What makes us men and not boys is that we are not directed by our feelings. We take control of our feelings, set our minds on something, and build it. At some point, you choose your mission in life. None more noble than to build a household and grow a family. But no matter what mission you choose, you have to build it past the point that it quits being new. Anything meaningful you commit to becomes a daily grind. But deep meaning, lifelong fulfillment, and true joy can only be found by grinding away. The only way out is through.

Don’t seek the dopamine rewards of New Experiences at the expense of slogging thru the familiar dailiness of devoting your life to something bigger than you. Because keeping your options open is a prison of its own.

As for kids, I always say that I am blessed that I didn’t venture into adulthood without children to protect me. I thank God every day that I have a family to challenge me, disturb me, and not let me rest for too long. They are how I keep from being completely self-absorbed. Which is, in my experience, a particularly common mode of hell I wish to avoid.

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