I did learn to love full-on in this marriage. I learned to put my whole soul into the project and come back with the joy of being a parent, and being in love, and being married. This total commitment is part of what blindsided me in the divorce.
I've been thinking a lot about sex lately. Maybe it's an "absence makes the heart grow fonder" sort of thing or a retrospective retelling. I'm not sure it matters which.…
It seems the biggest marker for success is the general outlook of the other person: Happy camper vs. unhappy camper. In my second marriage I thought we had a match, but the stress and change brought on by having kids sort of flipped her mode.
It's not uncommon for the dad to be the big "player" in the house. I continued to wrestle and chase and hug-hold-squeeze my kids with abandon and intensity. Perhaps at some point, I was using that affection to replace what I felt was lost between me and their mom. Still, we sailed along as a family, doing the best we could.