Can I Save My Marriage?
Can I Make It Work?

A Realistic Look at Marriage and Divorce

 

Prologue

Because I am a woman, and I' have been through a divorce, I'm writing this for women.

This information may also be appropriate for a man if he was the one who did not want his marriage to end. Still, this whole site is written by a woman who understands the woman's viewpoint. If you are a man reading this, you may substitute "her" for "him" and try to see how it applies to you. Men have been dumped, also.

Most of this article is based on my personal experience and knowledge gained from over five years of working with a divorce recovery group and with The Beginning Experience, and from therapy with various counselors and ministers. Some of it is based on personal experience with my divorce. A lot is based on stories from other women. Take what you need from this, but please don't think that I'm a trained counselor or an expert. This is not advice. I'm just writing this to share my knowledge and experience, and to try to help you get through a bad time.

 

Trying to Fix the Marriage

First, I would like to say that if a marriage can be saved, I am all for that happening. I wish there were some magic words a person could use to fix a marriage and heal the pain and make it as good as it was when it began (assuming it began with strong commitment and love). Unfortunately, things happen along the way in a marriage to sour it. People can go through rough times and survive, but only if both people are committed and love is still there.

If both people still love each other, are having trouble, and still want to try to keep the marriage together, there is hope. It may not be easy, but it can be done. Marriage counseling might be necessary, and both people will need to be willing to make changes concerning things that are causing problems. You can't play the Blame Game. You will have to be mature enough to admit your failures and wrong-doings. You will have to see your part in the marriage not working. Most of all, you will both need to embrace new behaviors and work together. Finally, you must be willing to forgive and forget.

Sometimes people think that nothing will save the marriage. Things may have gone so far downhill that they almost hate their life and the person they are married to. Just know that sometimes you think that "the grass is always greener" on the other side. It might not be. If you go to the other side and try it and it isn't greener, it may be too late to return. Think carefully about making that decision.


If you are unsure, seek professional help before you give up.

If both people still love each other, then PLEASE exhaust all possibilities before you stop trying and seek a divorce. Make a commitment to try to make it work unless there are horrible mitigating circumstances. By this I mean physical abuse, criminal actions, or a number of other things that make staying married to a person impossible such as drug or alcohol addiction. If it is just that you are unhappy, I would say try to fix the problems in your marriage and see if you can rekindle what you once had.

There are many avenues a couple can take if you want to try. First of all, I do recommend finding a good counselor, psychiatrist, psychologist or therapist. I recommend you both to go, at first together, then separately if the professional recommends it. I guarantee that changes will need to be made by one or both people if what you have been doing is not working. Many marriages that have gone sour can be healed with hard work, and especially with commitment. There may have to be a lot of forgiveness, especially if one has been having an affair. The person having the affair will have to make a personal commitment to find out why he or she sought out another person, and to realize that what they have done is wrong. The spouse must be able to trust that is will not happen again. They both must realize that adultery cannot be a part of their life if they want to be committed to their spouse.

If all avenues fail, then there comes a time during a bad marriage when you have to move out of denial and accept reality.

 

Please know that most of the examples given below do not belong to me and my situation. Many of them I was made aware of from other people going through divorces, and from other people in the divorce groups that I facilitated with BE and DRW. While every story is different, there are many similar situations and incidences with divorce.

I have gotten quite a lot of e-mail from people in the past few years (most of them women; however, increasingly from men) who have read my love story and my pages on grief. They were in pain and hurting from their loss, and most of them wanted their spouses back. Even if a husband had left them for another woman, they still envisioned him coming back. They wanted to know what they should do, and how they can survive the pain. Mostly they are spending all of their time in denial, hoping for their husband's return. In one case, the husband vowed his undying love to the wife he was cheating on, but refused to give up his paramours, all the while saying he wanted his wife back and didn't understand why she left him. By his actions, he was keeping his wife from moving on with her life while being selfish enough to say he wanted them both. Basically, he wanted his cake and eat it, too, as the old saying goes.

Hopefully everyone who goes into a marriage believes it will last forever, else why bother ever getting married. It is a shallow person who gets married and thinks, "Well, if I get tired of him/her, I can justs leave." Most of us believe in the fairy tale, at least once.
In real life, we know that it doesn't always work that way.


It's hard to let go. That's how denial and bargaining play a part in the grieving process. Maybe after reading this, you will have a more realistic picture what you may be going through.

I decided to write this page after finding notes that I had taken years ago from (of all things) a soap opera! I must confess that I've watched "General Hospital" for years. I record it and watch it when I get in from work. This particular program aired (so my notes say) on September 24, 1993, about a year and a half after we separated and while I was still very much grieving and depressed. It must have meant enough to me to have written down the dialogue. After reading it again today, I realize that these words had a profound meaning to me.
I believe this philosophy.

Text of a portion of "General Hospital":

Holly Sutton (who later became Holly Scorpio) was talking to Richard Halifax (I don't
even remember who the heck he was!). The conversation went like this:

Richard said,"You mean you would have preferred to have lived the rest of your life wondering, "What if?"
Holly replied,"As they say, things change, people change. When I came back to Port Charles, I was trying to recapture something - a relationship. But it was already gone. It would have been better left as a memory. I should have let it go. What good does it do to try and re-live the past? How often does it work out? Everything that has happened has forced me to step back and open my eyes and look at what I've done and why I did it."
Richard asked, "What did you discover?"
Holly replied, "You can't force a relationship and be happy in it. And, you can't come back to a place that you once loved and expect it to give you everything that it gave you before."

End of Text.

Text of a portion of "Las Vegas"

Ed Deline (played by James Caan) was talking to Danny McCoy (played by Josh Duhamel) on a recent rerun (the series was canceled after the 2008 season, much to my dismay) about his marriage ending. His wife, Jillian, was played by Cheryl Ladd. She grew restless about the amount of time he spent on the job, so she left him. Ed, a tough former Director of Counter Intelligence for the CIA, was President of Operations at the Montecito Casino in Las Vegas. It was one of my favorite TV shows, especially after Tom Sellick took over as President when Ed left. This is the conversation that struck a true cord:
On a recent rerun, after his wife had left him, Ed told Danny, "After so many fights, it gets to where saying 'I'm Sorry' just doesn't seem to make any difference."

End of Text

 

- End Prologue -

 

How do those above lines relate to the failure of a marriage?

It means that when things go really wrong, it is almost impossible to recapture the way it was. I say "almost" because if love is still present, it may not be totally impossible.

In a divorce, there is the dumper (the one who wants out of the marriage and leaves their spouse) and there is the dumpee (the one who has no thoughts of divorce and who is devastated when the spouse tells her/him that he/she wants out). The truth is that the person who wanted out of the marriage is very seldom willing to come back and try to work on it again. They have most likely been considering leaving for a long time, and finally came to the conclusion that they can't go on. They have probably fallen out of love a some time ago, while the other party is still in love and wants the marriage to continue, oftentimes totally oblivious to how the other person really feels. Sometimes the other person keeps pretending to love the spouse that he/she wants to leave.
This is extremely hurtful to the dumpee.

Now, from here on out, lets just change this to the man being the dumper and the woman being the dumpee for the remainder of the article to make the writing and reading easier. However, if you are a man and were dumped, substitute He/Him for She/Her.

She usually doesn't see it coming until it happens because she still loves and trusts her husband. She may know they have a few problems, but thinks that everything will work out if they keep trying. After all, don't most marriages have their ups and downs? Certainly all marriages have bad patches over the long haul. Her life is shattered when it happens, especially if they have been married for a long time. She had thought they would retire and grow old together. They had talked about it often. All of those plans have now fallen apart. He is moving on with someone else and she is left wondering what she will do with the rest of her life. At the moment, she feels that her life has ended.

Sometimes, the person who actually files for divorce is not the person who wanted the marriage to end. The dumper is still the person who wants to marriage to end, but it may seem like the dumpee is the dumper if they are the one to finally file for the divorce. In certain cases, a person finds himself or herself in a situation in which they have to file to save their life or their sanity or their dignity. The person who files is not necessarily the person who caused the end of the marriage and wants the divorce. They just have to be the person who legally ends the marriage when the other person has broken their vows and won't legally end it. They are not the person who was responsible for ruining or ending the marriage.

Some of the circumstances that cause the innocent person to have to file would be failure to take responsibility for ending the marriage, adultery or running around by the spouse, drugs or alcohol problems, gambling addictions, someone who is careless with money and bankrupting the family, serious criminal behavior, child abuse, or some other serious problem. Also, the dumper wants to look like the good guy, so he won't actually file, but he treats the dumpee dismally until she is forced to file to end the farce. There also might be legal reasons the dumpee needs to finalize it legally. This person would still be the one the most hurt. He or she would not technically be the dumper, but may be perceived as the dumper because they filed. Make sense???

In my case, after over a year of my husband treating me terribly, he wanted to separate, but didn't want a divorce for the moment. He was working away from home on temporary assignments for his company. He thought he would get a permanent position where he was working. He wanted to stay there because that is where the woman he had met and was commiting adultry with was living. I didn't find out about her until a few months later. How stupid was I to think that there were only problems in the marriage and never think about another woman? The funny thing was, after he separated, he wiped me from his mind altogether.

When this is the case, you have to recognize that the marriage is hopeless and to stay in it would be destructive to you and your children, if you have children. In ending the marriage, you are having to take the responsibility for putting sanity back into your life.

Time went by, with us filing for a legal separation and deciding upon certain legal matters. After about three years (yes, we procrastinated because neither of us wanted to be the one to file because we wanted to protect our assets), both of us were ready for a divorce. I knew I would never heal as long as we were still married. . At that time, he was sent back to this area to work and told there were no jobs left here. I knew he wanted to get back to her. Still, he never filed. I thought I should start looking for someone to represent me. I talked to three lawyers before I found a good, fair one. After meeting with her, I decided to go ahead and file. I really do believe that God was guiding me because as soon as he got the divorce papers, he called and wanted to talk. He was shocked that I had filed. It finally came out that he was moving back to Florida in two weeks without bothering to tell me, and probably planned it that way. Once in Florida, he would have filed and not been in our court's jusisdiction. It would have been hard for me to fight my case in another state.

 

Why it Sometimes Takes So Long

A woman who is dumped and faced with a divorce usually wants her husband back.
She is devastated and lost and alone without him. She thinks that whatever she did to make him leave (because he will have tried to make her think that it is all her fault that he is unhappy) can be changed so that he will want to come back. This was the way it was in my case, and in many others I've heard about.

She is exhibiting one of the basic stages of grief, called denial. She keeps thinking that he really isn't going to leave, that she can make him change his mind, come to his senses, start missing her, and ask for her back. While this can happen in rare cases, it isn't what usually happens. A lot of grieving time can be spent stuck in denial, but since everyone goes through that stage, don't think there is anything wrong with you for experiencing denial. It is human nature to need to have hope.

My Denial

I went through a long period of denial when my husband walked out of our
marriage after 28 1/2 years. I kept thinking that if I would change, if I could be and do what he wanted, he would be happy and come back. If I could just meet his needs (as he kept saying that I didn't), he couldn't find fault with me and our marriage. I never thought he would really stay gone. I kept hoping that he would realize that he couldn't live without me and would come back.

Men who want out of a marriage tend to place all of the blame on the wife and make her feel that she isn't what he wants because she doesn't meet his needs. He tells her that she is too controlling, too selfish, too fat, too thin, too this, too that (name the faults he piled upon you). In order to make it seem like he is the reasonable one and because he can't accept responsibility for the things he did in the marriage, he tends to try to make the wife feel like the divorce is completely her fault. Not only is she dealing with the loss, she is left dealing with what she thinks are terrible human failures on her part in the marriage. Personal faults have been heaped on her by him in order to make her think that she is the reason he is leaving. The wife may take on all of the blame, and proceed to try to fix herself to become what she thinks he wants. Often she will compromise her integrity or self-esteem in order to try to do and be what he wants.
Turns out that even if you make all of the changes and sacrifices, he will come up with more reasons to leave. Nothing you do will be the right thing. You can't win for losing. You may never know the real reason he walked out, but bare in mind that it is
him, not you, who is the reason if he continues to want out and refuses to work things out.

Before we go any further, I realize that sometimes it is the wife who wants out of a marriage. That leaves a hurt and dejected husband. I also realize that it takes two to make a marriage, and the fault and blame is not totally one person's. Generally, it is more one person's than the other, though. When it comes to a mid-life crisis divorce, it is usually the man who wants out for very selfish reasons, but it could be the wife who is unhappy.

Sometimes it really isn't more one person's fault than another's. Sometimes two people get married who aren't well-suited for each other, or they didn't get married for the right reasons. They fall in love and things stay good for a time, but they later find that there is no basis for a real lasting and committed marriage. Instead of both agreeing to end the marriage, one or the other will have an affair and start blaming and making accusations in order to make the other want out, also. Most of the time it isn't pretty and it isn't nice.
Or,rarely it is possible for a couple to realize that it isn't working and they decide to end things relatively amicably.

Eventually, once we are able to deal with it, we all need to find out what we did of didn't do that helped bring the marriage to an end in order to heal and not make the same mistakes again. But, this is a whole other topic.

In my case, I thought that if I would do everything that he wanted that I had been hesitant about doing in our marriage (including huge lifestyle changes like giving up our four-bedroom house and moving into a two-room hut so he could live on his boat and not have to take care of a house), if I had been a more giving person, if I were more loving, if I would give up my job (and thus retirement investment in this state) and move to where he was working on a temporary assignment, if I would sell the house and move into a smaller one so he could have a boat to sail around the world in and eventually live in, if, if, if... Which leads us into the bargaining stage.

I later realized that it was his plan for me to sell the house and move to Florida, where he would still have left me because he was in love with the other woman. It was his plan to get half of the house sale money. Then, I would have been stuck in Florida, away from friends and my job with no home to live in. I would have lost my state retirement, and teachers were being laid off all over the place at that time. I might have been out of a job.

Red Flags

If you look for them, you will see that they were there all along, but you were so committed to the marriage and had so much trust in it and him that you never even noticed.
For instance, a few years before my husband wanted out, he had told me that I needed to invest in my own retirement because he wasn't going to spend his retirement for us; he was going to spend it only for himself. He was going to spend it on what he wanted. He urged me to sign up for a 409K plan at work. He also changed his stock options to his name, not in both of our names. Talk about red flags that I was too blind to see! All this time he was still telling me that he loved me and missed me while he was away, so I really didn't notice those red flags. Thank God that I was wise enough to start my own retirement investments, even though I couldn't afford to put much in at first. I looked at as me doing my share for our retirement. Still blind to his potential to leave, I didn't read between the lines. No decent husband. I realize now, would say and do those things, but I was in denial even before the separation that things were on the way down because he was working away from home out of state all of the time and I thought that was the problem.

When he left, I tried to get him to come back, genuinely meaning to give him everything he needed. I had tried for ages to get him to go to counseling with me. He wouldn't go because he didn't think he had a problem. Later I realized that he didn't want to go because he didn't care to save the marriage. He pretended to "try", all the while still keeping the woman with whom he was having an affair in the other state. I heard lots of lies. You probably have heard them, also. He never intended to come back - he just thought it would be easier to say he would try. He later told me that was why he pretended to try.
He said that lying would be easier than being truthful. Yeah, easier for him.



Fear of the unknown and thoughts of living alone were scary to me. I knew in the back of my head that staying married to him would mean being miserable off and on the rest of my life, but we tend to think that something is better than nothing, that being married is better than being alone and ejected into the unknown. I had been raised to believe that marriages should last and that divorce was wrong, so I tried to hold on too long.

 

Unless your husband is willing to work on your marriage as much as you are,
and work as hard to
change a relationship that didn't previously work,
you then embark on what I call "Selling Your Soul". You go into the bargaining stage. You try to bargain with him to come back, and you try to bargain with God.
When you bargain with the husband, you are willing to give up your wants, your needs, and your dreams and do what you think he wants. You are willing to compromise many things, which might include your values, your career, your friends, your commitment to your children, your home, your dignity, your job, and various other things to try to please him and keep him happy. This may include giving up who you really, truly are. Plus, he probably won't ever change the way he treats you or reacts to you because your interaction patterns have been set in stone over time. You promise to change, and try to get him to change. You cannot change him unless he wants to change. You most likely won't be able to go back and recapture what once was. Still, in the slim chance that it might work, you feel that have to try rather than giving up so easily.

I tried to bargain with God. I kept asking Him to bring my husband back to me. I felt that our marriage vows were sacred, and believed that divorce was wrong. We had vowed to be married until death separated us. He had vowed that he would love me eternally and that we would grow old together. I told God that if He meant people to stay married, He should use His power to keep us together. I begged Him. I told Him that I would try to change and be a better person. Actually, R. did come back for a while from his temporary assignment. His temporary job ended after two straight years and two other partial years out of state, and he pretended that he would come back and try. He didn't want to move back into our home, but to an apartment "so (according to him) we could date get to know each other again." I was vulnerable enough to believe him. Now I know I was just plain stupid. He said he would probably come back, but he never gave up the other woman. He had no intentions to come back. He was merely making life easier for himself at my emotional expense. Once we were supplsed to go on a date, but somehow his "other" got wind of in and drove all the way from South Florida to see him. He called and made some excuse that he couldn't take me out, but something in his voice made me ask, "Is she there?" He said she was, and that she cared enough to drive all that far to be with him. While there she must have given him an ultimatum, because he never tried to see me again.


At first, it seemed that God would not answer my prayers. I couldn't accept that if vows were stated in front of God that God wouldn't help us keep those vows.

Eventually, I learned that God did answer my prayers. He answered them in a way that was the best in the long run for me. He loved me enough not to put me back in that marriage in which a man cheated on me and lied to me and didn't cherish me. It became very clear to me that God didn't bring R. back to me because it wasn't what was best for me. Even as I accepted it, it still took a long time to heal from the hurt.
Over time, I came to realize that the divorce was the best thing for me in the whole scheme of my life. Even though the memories and the pain still come back sometimes, and I would never want to go through that pain and devastation if I had a choice, life after my divorce has been so much better. I finally accepted that there had been so much water under the bridge, and so many unhealthy patterns had been established in our interactive patterns that it would have never worked again.

I'm now married to a man who does adore me, who makes me feel "special" and protected, and who almost every day tells me how much he appreciates me. I'm much happier than if my marriage to R. had been salvaged. I have a much better marriage and a far better life.

Here is what happened in another woman's life:

"When my husband turned 50, his love disappeared almost overnight. He didn’t talk to me for nearly two years. When I begged him to stop ignoring me he said he needed more time to decide if he wanted to be married to me anymore. He said he needed me to be more fun, less talkative, less nagging, more exciting, less exciting. He wanted me to do fun things, he wanted to take separate vacations. He wanted me to categorize every single item I bought (yes, toilet paper, groceries, dog food under pets, a pair of socks at Wal-mart under clothing.) He wanted me to be submissive. He yelled at me. He drove erratically to scare me. I went to a Christian counselor who tried to teach me how to be submissive, thinking it would make him happy. He had an affair because he said I just wasn’t making him feel like a man. I worked, cooked, cleaned, planted flowers, did laundry. I stayed slim and healthy and had stylish haircuts. I didn’t overspend. I was affectionate. I discussed politics. I went on motorcycle rides with him. I went camping and hiking. I really could not imagine that I could have done anything else.
I feel like such a failure. Such a failure. I know I’m not. I was a really good wife. But apparently not good enough. "

Again, sometimes it seems that no matter what we do, if they have decided they no longer want you, you are treated badly. This woman was treated so badly that she had to leave to save her sanity. That made the good doctor, her husband, look good because she left him even though he was probably having an affair and trying to make her leave by treating her so badly.

I have said it before, and I will say it again here. We were with our mate for however long it lasted for a reason, and we should embrace whatever we got from that marriage even if we never know what it was. We had to have learned things from that marriage, even if it was that we could survive. We learned life lessons. We gained insight about marriage and outselves. We grew and we matured. We may have had wonderful children.
Except in rare cases, it wasn't all a failure.
The other gem of reality is that everything in our lives happens for a reason.

To Try or Not To Try?

I feel that you owe it to your marriage to try if you can if you can do it without your health or your mental stability being affected. Sometimes you can get the other person to try. Sometimes he will pretend to try, or maybe really try the best he can.
The bottom line is that if he hadn't wanted the divorce, he probably wouldn't have left in the first place.
Every once in a while you hear of couples separating, and divorcing, and after a time getting back together. They may make it work the second time. It is wonderful if this can happen. If both parties in the marriage really want to try, if both freely agree to counseling, and if both are willing to make changes, it can work after a separation. One or both of them has to change and make adjustments. It is possible to have a happy ending to divorce and reconciliation.
Sometimes.
While it has been done, it is very rare that you can recapture what you had before a separation or divorce and go back to when things were better. People change. Values and commitments change. One may grow and the other not. It's tough to start life together, make a home, struggle with careers, deal with financial problems, raise a family, and do the many things necessary to make a home and keep a marriage strong even in the best of circumstances. When the odds are against them, some marriages just don't make it. Often, it's too late. There will have been too much water under the bridge. Old patterns of interaction are too ingrained in the relationship and can't be changed. They keep popping up again and again. The arguments, the accusations, the blame, the triggers and the pushed buttons patterns stay the same. One or the other will have gunny-sacked things, and when the slightest thing goes wrong, bring up all of the previous grievances against the other. This indicates that things can't be fixed.

You still love him, but he has stopped loving you. You are the one who is falling apart, depressed, and crying all of the time. It doesn't seem to bother him. He acts like you are a stranger and shows no emotion towards you. You can't go back to the way things were because he no longer feels the way he did.

When will the real person appear?

One of the things I learned from almost every counselor that spoke to every divorce recovery group is that people don't really know each other until after they get married. Almost immediately after a marriage, people will change in some or many ways. Part of the courting ritual is to put your best foot forward to impress the person you are interested in. A person rarely lets all of their real self be known to the other before they are married. We are always on our best behavior. It's human nature. Even when people live together, something happens after the marriage ceremony. I've heard people say that their spouse changed right after the ceremony. They usually say they change for the worst.
Still, sometimes it takes years for one to change so much that you can't live with them.

One of the speakers at our divorce recovery workshops used to tell the tale of the Peacock. It seems a woman fell in love with a peacock and married him. He was good looking, had a great personality, and was a good provider. One day a little while after they were married she was cleaning house, maybe putting away his clothes. She looked in his closet and what did she see hanging there but a peacock suit. She looked at her husband and realized that he had turned into a turkey. He had been masquerading as a peacock all along, and she realized that she was stuck with a turkey.
While this is an imaginary, exaggerated tale, it has a lot of truth to it. They say that everyone puts their best foot forward before the marriage, then afterwards they let their real "selves" emerge, hoping to be accepted. If we love the person, we can try to accept them as human within limits, but sometimes they change into something so very different, sometimes fast and sometimes over time, that the marriage cannot work.

We were both going to college when we got engaged. We had big plans for our lives. He quit college to go into an officer's program in the Air Force. He got kicked out of that program, served his time as an airman second class and never finished college. My husband didn't tell me until after we were married that he had dated someone while we were engaged. He was still in the Air Force, and I was finishing college at the time. I hadn't dated anyone after our engagement. Then, after going to church all of his life, right after we were married he said that he had gone to church enough in his life and didn't want to go anymore. I also found out after we were married that he really didn't want children, although we did eventually have two. I didn't see it at the time, but my peacock turned into a turkey early on. Love is blind.

 

Think about it. Aren't there things that you learned about your spouse after you got married that you never realized before that you weren't too happy about? Things that he never revealed to you before you were married? Things that you thought were one way but that you found out were different? You realized you missed seeing them before marriage.
Now look at all of the red flags that you didn't see back then, but after the fact, you get these "Oh, yeah! I remember when he..." and wonder why we didn't notice it then.
People do change over time as they are affected by what happens to them in their lives. Life happens. Good things happen; bad things happen. It's how we deal with them that affects the outcome. One of you may grow up, the other may not. One person may be able to accept responsibility, the other may not. One may continue to grow, the other stay static. One completes his/her education, the other doesn't. One is good with money, the other wastes money. Things like alcoholism make themselves known after a period of time. Drug addiction, alcoholism, family violence, not wanting children when you thought they did, inability to handle problems at work, inability to commit to any one person, differences in religious beliefs and commitments to going to church, affairs, inability to keep a job, health problems, childhood experiences, or any number of things can develop or manifest themselves over the years in a marriage.

You can fill in the blanks for your marriage and your situation.
The signs were there even if you didn't see them because you chose to overlook them.
The bottom line is that some people discover soon after they are married
that they aren't suited and for some it may take longer.
It is the rare and lucky ones who find the right person the first time around.

 

What Makes Us the Way We Are?

In a person's youth and early adult years, they remain relatively unaffected by childhood. We are either in denial, or have learned to function and cope without feeling that the things we went though as a child and our family of origin dynamics had any affect on us. However, no matter who we are or what type of life we had (or think we had), whether it be a happy childhood or a mediocre childhood or an extremely rough childhood, we were affected by it. How we were raised, how we were treated, what our parents were like are all factors in who we become and what we are like.
We grow into adulthood, get married and have children. More often than not, we raise our children in ways similar to how we were raised. We treat our spouses like we saw our parents treat each other. Or, we make a conscious effort to behave entirely differently. We may go on for a number of years seemingly "normal", but when a marriage starts to have problems, those childhood events start to surface and unless we move out of denial and face them and deal with them, as we approach mid-life our dysfunctions start to surface. Every family is somewhat dysfunctional. No family is completely 100% emotionally healthy.
Mark my words: Our childhoods had a profound affect on us, and it isn't a matter of whether or not we are dysfunctional, it is how much we are dysfunctional and in which ways. People seem to attract and marry people with the same level of dysfunction, although it may not be the same kind of dysfunction.
Put two badly dysfunctional people together and over the years, unless a couple works on communication and works together to understand each other and we strive to understand ourselves, problems occur that get larger and larger. Where there is love and understanding, a couple can work through these problems. Therapy helps tremendously, but it takes two to work on the problems. Often times, one will realize there are problems and seek help, and the other will refuse to accept that they have problems. They don't want to work on themselves or the marriage. They just want out. When they get out, they remain the same. It's the person who realizes they have problems and seeks counseling and works on becoming more functional who will eventually become more emotionally healthy and overcome the affects of childhood. Everyone is affected in one way or another in their childhood. The person who becomes more emotionally healthy will eventually find a new mate who is on the same level.

It may take some twenty or thirty years before things finally fall apart in a marriage. Many divorces occur when the children are grown and have left the nest and the dumper thinks the children no longer need him.
Whenever it happens to you, most likely you will try to keep it all together. It is normal to go through this period of denial. That is a part of the grief process. Eventually, when you realize you can't keep him, it is equally important that you pass on through all of the other stages of grief and progress to the "letting go" stage.
It is important for you to realize that when you can't go back and fix all of the broken pieces, and it is imperative for you to go forward.


We must all try to regain our dignity and get on with our lives. Don't beg for a person to come back who doesn't want to be with you. You deserve better. You don't deserve second best. You don't deserve the unhappiness that a less-than-great marriage will give you. You deserve someone who is faithful, who treats you well, who is kind and considerate and makes you feel good about yourself. To stay with a person who constantly makes you feel that something is wrong with you is no way to live.

When the time is right and you are ready, you will realize that to keep trying to hold a marriage together that is over is futile. You have to let go. You won't start healing until you do let go. You won't be able to heal and move on until the divorce is final.

It is time to start planning for a new future. You need to start taking care of yourself. Be good to yourself. Love yourself. Don't go out and look for another man to fill the void and give you attention and dull your pain until enough time has passed that you have healed and become a whole person. If you don't wait, don't grow, don't work on yourself, you will marry someone else who is dysfunctional and have another bad marriage.
Let yourself go through the loneliness and the pain and all of the other stages of grief. Let yourself be angry in a healthy manner. Let yourself be depressed for a time. Get help if you can't handle everything by yourself. You aren't meant to go through this alone. You need to have or find a support system. It could be a good friend, family, a clergyman, a therapist or a divorce recovery group.

When it is time, if it is meant to be, you will find someone else to love and to love you.
Don't rush it. You have to be ready.
You have to have become a "whole" person who doesn't need another person to take care of you to make you feel whole.
You have to work on yourself and become the person you were meant to be.
When you are emotionally healthy, when you have worked on forgiveness (which is a whole other topic, but which is a gradual thing, not instantaneous) and have totally let the other person go, you will be ready.


And remember, you ARE a worthwhile person.
Have a good and happy life. There IS a life after divorce, so don't give up hope.

 

Back to my Divorce Recovery Page.

 

 
 
This page was created January 1, 2001,
and updated August 9, 2006, July 12, 2007, January 27, 2008,
April 2008,December 7, 2008 and Oct. 23, 2012.

 

Credits:
Writers - "General Hospital"
Turkey/Peacock Story - Dr. Reid Doster

All content on this page except that credited to others is Copyright 2001 - 2008 by Linda S. Nix and may not be copied, published, downloaded,printed or reproduced in any manner without explicit written permission.
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This article is meant to be helpful, but should not be considered to be advice from a professional.
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