Someone told me a story about a woman who refused to admit that her marriage was over. It was before the “no fault” divorce laws in New York state. She decided to legally contest her husband‘s petition of divorce. The woman felt that her husband had no right to leave her. In her mind shhe had been a good and loyal wife, and he had no right to end the marriage. She was also Catholic and believed that divorce was immoral and a sin against God. A few years later, after spending a small fortune on legal fees and lawyers a judge agreed with her. The court denied her husband’s petition for divorce. Even though they were physically separated and no longer a couple they remained legally married. Desperate, her husband moved to New Jersey with his new girlfriend and started the process all over again. They couple is now divorced. As much as my heart goes out to the woman, she should have just let him go.
A failed marriage is kind of like our own personal fairy tale but with a horrible twisted bad ending – one we never would have expected. Most marriages end when one half of a partnership wants out, not with both sides sitting down and coming to a mutually agreed upon separation. Sure, those amicable divorces are out there, and some couples have literally tried everything to make their marriages work before they decide to end things. But since I started writing about divorce I have gotten an avalanche of stories from readers about their own divorce related battles. In most situations, one side simply wants out of the marriage while the other spouse fights desperately to keep things together. In some cases the spouse who wants to remain married is simply crushed by the split. It might take two people to get married, but it only takes one to force a divorce. Not every marriage falls apart due to constant fighting, any number of things can lead to a divorce:
- Rampant infidelity – sex with multiple partners over the course of the marriage behind their spouses back
- Falling in love with a new partner
- Midlife crisis – suddenly they want to completely rebuild their life – including their spouse
- Substance abuse – spouse refuses to seek treatment
- Untreated mental illness – spouse refuses to seek treatment
- Massive deception – leading secret life
- Fraud – married for a green card, inheritance, money, etc.
- Closeted homosexual – married to have “normal” life
What is tragic is that I have met so many men and women who are not accepting that it’s over. What they tend to say repeatedly are things like:
- I don’t want to give up on this marriage
- I grew up in a broken home and I vowed to never let this happen to me
- I thought if I just worked hard enough that I could avoid divorce
- How can he/she do this to our family? – It’s not fair
Relationships involve two people, and no one can control the behavior of another human being. If your spouse wants out, there is not much you can do about it. We all think if we just sacrifice enough, give up more and more of our happiness we can make it work. I put up with an emotionally distant man in a celibate marriage because I refused to give up on my vows. I believed in the sanctity in marriage and believed with all my heart that if I loved him enough and gave up my own hopes and dreams for his, that we would be together forever. Somehow along the way I missed the point that the marriage was not the source of my happiness. Just being with another human being does not always give the greatest fulfillment or joy. I know this now because four years after leaving my husband I am much better off emotionally than I was for the last few years of my marriage. Unwittingly we buy into the hype that romantic love is the greatest thing in the world to achieve, when I would argue it’s not.
Life isn’t fair for many of us. Time and time again I have heard stories of one partner horribly betrayed by another. We didn’t sign up for this. We didn’t stand in front of our families and vow to give up on our version of a happy ending. One of the most difficult realities to face as an adult is the willingness to admit we are powerless in certain situations. No matter how hard we work, we cannot fix something that cannot be mended.
It’s awful and the pain is real and devastating, but just because that our original dream didn’t work out, it doesn’t mean we can’t find a new one. If your partner wants out and you have tried everything to make it work – let them go. They might have a change of heart and realize their mistake, but do you really want someone who left you in the first place? No one is perfect. There is no single human being on this planet who can complete another. Even if they are the parent to your children, and even if you thought your life would work out differently. As hard as it is when our marriages fall apart, we have to forget about the life we envisioned married to our spouse. We have to instead learn to cherish and love our new reality. It will get better, every day, week, month and year…just hang in there. 🙂
- Splitting Couples Say “I Do” To Divorce Parties (miami.cbslocal.com)
- Middle-Aged Divorce Race: Who’s With Me? (mymidlifemayhem.wordpress.com)
- Life After Divorce: Do you REALLY have to be friends with your Ex? (julietjeskeblog.com)
- Tying the Knot…then Sometimes Untying It (jonierdmann.wordpress.com)