As I mentioned, I've been doing a lot of reflection. In doing so, I discovered that I have a lot of regrets - both from my marriage, and from the way I have handled this separation.
I am really sorry I asked her if she wanted a divorce. In a sense, I backed her into a corner. I forced an issue that should have been left alone. Like teasing a dog to see if it will bite you, sometimes you're better off leaving things alone and waiting to see what happens.
I'm sorry I took off my wedding ring. Again, I forced her forward in a sense. I could still be wearing it; I am still married, after all. By taking it off, I encouraged her to do the same, and she did. Now I have a permanent groove in my finger, even after 3 weeks, to remind me of how stupid I can be sometimes.
I'm sorry I didn't insist on counseling. Initially, she agreed to schedule some counseling after things had a while to calm down. I realized that she was doing this to make things a little less painful on me, but still, I think it might have been beneficial. Now I'll never know, and I regret it.
I'm sorry I forced the "I love you" issue, because now I'm afraid to say it to her, no matter how strongly I feel it or how often I think it. In fact, I'm terrified. She told me to "cool it", but I don't know if that means to not say it so frequently, or to not say it at all. I haven't been saying it at all because I'm too afraid that she won't reciprocate. I should have been smart enough to see that it made her uncomfortable, and just toned it down without having to be told.
I'm sorry I wasn't more helpful to her during our marriage. I made her feel like second fiddle - like I was somehow more important and my needs came before her own. I made her feel like she was merely an accessory to the person I am, rather than her own person. I didn't make her feel like a partner, and I regret that very much.
I'm sorry I didn't reach out to her before it was too late. I should have realized that she wasn't happy, and I should have been willing to do whatever was necessary to get things back on track.
I tell my kids that you don't learn from the things you do right. That is true, but it's unfortunate that sometimes a "learning experience" has long-term or permanent consequences.