So I wrote this essay a couple of years ago as I was reflecting about the end of my marriage:

As my eight year marriage comes to its inevitable end, I’ve been rewatching the series Mad Men. When I first watched the series, I admired Joan and Peggy for being strong female characters in the show but I always thought there was something about Betty Draper that I could relate to. It’s strange to think about considering she’s a white upper class sixties housewife in New York and I’m a working class millennial immigrant Latina woman in Georgia. It’s hard to grasp that there would be any similarities between but there are many indeed.  

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Betty and Don at Fancy Event

 

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(Me and Hubs at my brother’s wedding reception)

Betty feels trapped in her suburban idyllic existence and often times feels frustrated; I’ve also felt this way throughout the past fifteen years. Betty wonders if there is more to life than what she is living which is rearing children and being a good wife; I’ve constantly wondered the same thing except that I have the added burden of working.

Don, Betty’s husband acts like she should be happy with her life and gets mad at her when she shows real emotion, kind of accuses her of being crazy and sends her to a psychiatrist that he secretly talks to about her sessions without her consent and knowledge. My husband never went so far but for most our relationship he did accuse me of over reacting and/or accuse me of being crazy if I got “emotional” about something and/or brought up needs that weren’t being met in our relationship. It always felt that I was expecting too much out of our relationship for wanting normal things in a relationship. My husband has also acted like I should settle for what the little he can give me in terms of companionship and be happy with that since he was. For a long time, I felt that maybe I could and should settle for this but settling made me miserable for several years. 

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Don also kind of stopped investing time and energy into his marriage. He  took Betty for granted because they were married with two children and hid behind his work and his many dalliances. My husband was never one to make time for us or continue to woo me in any sense after we started living together. Instead, he hid behind the raising of our children and the fact that he was always tired. He could never spontaneously compliment me and I was always either too fat or almost too skinny for him.  Betty overlooked Don’s lack of affection for several years in the same way I overlooked my husband’s. I feel that this had to do with how women are conditioned to be polite and swallow their emotions because again–we’ll be accused of being crazy and/or hysterical. 

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The beginning of the end of Betty and Don’s marriage started when Betty eventually gets fed up after having one of Don’s affairs rub in her face and throws Don out but later they get back together because she finds out she’s pregnant with their third child. Don does try to be a somewhat better husband but eventually goes back to his philandering ways. There have been a few times throughout our relationship that I did try to break up with my husband but because he always apologized and said he would change, I always took him at his word and wanted to believe he would change. We even planned our third child and got married shortly after getting pregnant. I think I subconsciously did this because I thought a baby and a marriage would be the band aids that would fix “us”. 

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Betty eventually gets tired of Don’s lack of effort and also his lies and eventually asks for a divorce, she tells him something like, “I don’t feel anything when I kiss you”; it seems that this was when she knew that it was over for her and Don. For me, it took me a couple of years to be firm in my decision to divorce my husband. I think that I finally realized that there was no way I could continue the façade of our marriage when I realized that I no longer cared that he didn’t notice me or felt anything remotely like romantic love when I kissed him. It took him a while to understand why I wanted a divorce since he was happy with “us” and his main concerns were, “what about the taxes?” or “what about the kids?”.  But like Don, he eventually agreed to it and said that he wouldn’t fight me about it. It’s kind of eerie that women like myself can still relate to a sixties housewife when it comes to relationships, marriages, and the stigma of divorce.  I’m sure that people wonder why I would stay in a stagnant and awful relationship/marriage; that’s simple; I loved my husband. I thought that loving him meant that I had to settle for a marriage devoid of any real affection. I thought that the love I felt for him would be enough to change him one day. 

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