photo credit: Lightstock
Some of you have entertained the thought of leaving your relationship. Some of you may have even fantasized how much easier life would be if you weren’t worried about his (or her) health all the time, hoping that they have enough covers for the week to make rent, or praying that the big meeting with restaurant investors will pull through. I’ve been there. But there’s one thing that makes me a little bit different: my Chef and I are divorcing.
It all happened very quickly. One day I was engaged, then married, and then the D-word happened. There’s so many reasons why this decision happened — people divorce for multiple reasons after all but I would be lying if I said the restaurant industry wasn’t a part of it; it wasn’t because I couldn’t deal with his lifestyle or hours — I just couldn’t deal with someone who couldn’t put me or us first. The us part was so severe that we never celebrated an anniversary, not even our first wedding anniversary. On our first wedding anniversary, I had a bottle of champagne signed by 20 of our closest relatives in my lap while I sat alone at home in tears. A “make-up” celebration didn’t even happen because of the restaurant. The restaurant was more important than our relationship. But he doesn’t deserve all the blame. I played my role too.
Our relationship started out strong: a rom-com like story of how it all began, an unexplainable chemistry. We were both passionate about our careers and we supported each other as much as we could. At one point, I felt like we could conquer anything and take over the world because we complimented each other so well. Knowing what his goals were as a chef, I was always behind him 100%. Eventually, I was so focused on him because I wanted him to succeed in New York so much. Gradually, I forgot about my needs and wants shortly before he started forgetting what mine were. Overtime, our lives were so deeply entwined but my voice was almost non-existent and I had lost myself. Perhaps I was so too immersed in the New York City restaurant culture (the gossip!). Perhaps my competitive spirit clouded my own ambitions. Perhaps I wanted the fairy tale to work out — in the dream world, he would have his restaurant and I would visit him with our two chubby toddlers before dinner service so we could work on our cookbook. But now, I can’t tell if that was his dream or mine now because our priorities were skewed and had been so for so long.
While both of us had accomplished our original goals in New York (I finished graduate school and he had opened a restaurant in Manhattan as Executive Chef), our ambitions were stronger than our love for each other. One of the core elements of a loving relationship is having a supportive presence. In the early stages of our relationship, I always “understood” why he had to work late and why he couldn’t come to an event with me (work or personal). In retrospect, I should’ve pushed for that “me”-time in the beginning. If I did, I wondered, would we have celebrated a wedding anniversary? Would we have even celebrated an anniversary while we were dating? Who knows.
Do I regret being married to a chef? Nope. I learned a lot from it. Not just about being married to the industry but just marriage in general. Once the legal steps started, I learned a lot about myself too – about what I needed and what I wanted. There’s one thing that I have to thank him for though: if it weren’t for him, I may not have re-discovered my love for food or pursued my current career path. In fact, I would have never continued my career in food if it weren’t for him, divorce or no divorce.