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An insider’s split

Divorce is part of the spectrum of relationships

At the end of November my partner’s application for our divorce — the one that names me as the responding “husband” — crossed the desk of an Ontario judge. With a few strokes of the pen the sad conclusion of the last six years of my life was reached.

I was so excited two Junes ago when it was announced that same-sex marriage was now sanctioned in Ontario. We’d had a civil union in Vermont in 2001 which was well supported by family and friends, but in 2003 my then-girlfriend proposed again and we got hitched at City Hall on the day after Pride.

Fast forward to 2004 when my marriage went down the tubes. I had started dating someone else (we were officially in a polyamorous relationship), which brought past problems to the surface. We tried counselling, but I suspected failure when after the first session the counsellor said, “So maybe we should spend the next session talking about how to amicably split up.”

It’s been about a year — depending which version of the break-up you hear — since we separated. Unlike the times of happiness in 2003 when everyone and their dog was getting married, I personally know only one other person who is even contemplating divorce. I feel very alone.

I’m a two-time loser, having one heterosexual divorce already under my belt. But ending a legal same-sex relationship feels very different. I feel that I have let the community down in some way by not showing that we can have long-term healthy relationships. It was also very challenging reporting on the progress of same-sex marriage, while at the same time nursing the wounds of the end of my own marriage.

Divorce is an unfortunate part of the whole spectrum of relationships. For me, I know that this decision was the only one the two of us could have reached at that point in time, no matter how much we might have hoped for a different outcome. Staying together was no longer an option and it seemed best to just resolve things once and for all.

But it’s hard not to feel guilty about it.