We would celebrate our 4 year anniversary tomorrow. Probably start the day by posting a workout with an 8-10-12 rep scheme and inviting our friends to do it. Maybe post some recent pictures altogether – some shots of Aiden doing something on rings and Maddalyn pulling herself up holding on to a kettlebell…
I’ve been wrong about divorce. First, I believed it was wrong to get divorced. Second, I’ve considered myself a failure because of this failed marriage. The final, most unhealthy thought I held onto was that this was my fault – ultimately I was to blame.
How I Got There
When a reference to religious beliefs is required, I’m a Christian man. I was a Christian child brought up in a Christian family adopting Christian values. I don’t ever remember reading in the bible or hearing a sermon explaining that divorce is sinful or a direct connect flight to hell. But there were shameful, negative feelings projected onto anyone with a divorce or going through one. I’ll site the author that helped change my perspective on divorce when I find the article, but leading up to reading that piece, I was drowning in guilt about our decomposing marriage.
Attempts to Make Sense
I asked myself a bunch of Why’s: “Why aren’t we getting better? Why do we have to try so hard to get along? Why does she feel let down? Why do I feel I keep missing the mark? With the life and health we have, why are we not happy?”, etc. Because I was so bought into the idea that divorce is unacceptable, it was hard to ask myself questions like “Could we be happier apart? Do we spend too much time and energy keeping us together? Could the babies be happier without exposure to our tension?”.
If we believe that life is about the pursuit of happiness – a life of abundance -, then why shouldn’t we see ending an unfulfilling marriage as an endeavor of happiness? This was the point the author made, and it made a lot of other notions I’d been hearing from counselors click as well.
I did everything “right”. I married before living together. I had children with my wife. We went to church on Sunday as a family. I worked a job that supported the whole family. I made sure our homes and vehicles were as nice as possible. My family, her family, and our friends were on-board. Why didn’t it work? It should’ve worked. It wasn’t that we did anything wrong, it’s that our being who we are – approaching stages of life differently, changing differently – became two people that were no longer as compatible as the two people that made vows to each other back on 8.10.12.
Knowing We Tried
I’ve stopped seeing myself as a failure because our marriage is over. It took some time. I do feel like I’ve let down my children by not giving them the life they deserve, the life I wanted as a child, of having their mommy and daddy raise them together. I intend to teach my children the only way you fail is by not trying. I believe it wholeheartedly, and that thought reminds me that she and I tried. We went through marital counseling w/ homework, individual therapy, medications, separation, and prayer. The only way we could see ourselves as failures is if we didn’t try.
Because I grew up to understand the man is the head of the house, I always believed that what happens on your watch is your responsibility. The bond between you and your wife is no different. On the surface, it sounds ridiculous for one person to take all the responsibility for the maintenance of a relationship. I know this intuitively, but here’s a fine example of how strongly beliefs can impact perceptions. The blame, guilt, anxiety, doubt, anger, etc were ribbons linking and leading me to a place I don’t like to think about…All I want is to be good at everything. I need to be exceptional, and I couldn’t be in my family. Who else’s fault could it be?? I’m still not completely out of the woods with this thinking, but I’m “aware” of it and the emotions it breeds.
The Inevitable, Open-minded Conclusion
The short point I’m making is that divorce as DIVORCE isn’t wrong. It doesn’t have to be messy, ugly, or violent. It doesn’t have to be full of bitterness and negativity. It could just be nothing more than a documented handshake that says “Hey, we make life suck for each other now. Let’s not.” It could be a way back to pursuing that happy, abundant life we all have a right to.
Credit: Alexander Milov; Photo Credit: thestevenjames