In Writing

I came across a beautiful piece from a man to his now-ex-wife on the day of their divorce. It feels so important and so fresh I wanted to share it with you. Link below. But first some thoughts.

I definitely grew up with the “divorce is a scorched earth event” view of uncouplings. In fact, one of my favorite movies from my youth was The War of the Roses, a dark comedy about a divorcing couple who wind up killing each other rather than split up their stuff. People in my Catholic schoolgirl world simply did not divorce. They just gritted their teeth and waited it out while finding ways to distract themselves from their emotionally empty relationships. When it became obvious that my husband and I no longer wanted to be married, I put off the inevitable for years because I so dreaded what it would take to unmake our marriage and because I just had no blueprint for what might come next.

And my divorce lived up to divorce’s bad rap at the start. Short but fierce, it is still the one event in my life that most felt like it threatened the things required for my survival: my home, my financial stability and my relationship with my kids. I can honestly say I did not think warm thoughts about my ex-husband for a very long time. That kind of battle requires that you steel yourself by dehumanizing “the enemy.” It felt like the only way to survive.

I think about this a lot, clearly, because what happened afterwards still feels surprising.

I can’t say exactly when I began to remember that “the enemy” was someone I’d loved very much for a long time and who was the only other human who could adore my children as much as I do. Although the marriage was (thankfully) gone, I discovered that many of the things that had brought us together were still there: my admiration for his work ethic, my appreciation for his traditional values and my amusement at his crazy view on life. (The very first thing that brought us together, my total fascination with his amazingly bright blue eyes and my deep attraction to him, did not return however. I guess not everything survives. It’s better that way. I’m sure he’d say the same).

I was moved to gratitude and reflection by the nuance of this piece. Many of the author’s words rang true for me. (Except the part about being hard to live with. I was an absolute dream to live with 😉 ). It seemed counterintuitive to me for a long time, but ending my marriage was the best thing I did for my family (and, yes, the father of my children is still included in that term). The years you spend with someone are never undone. It’s about taking the relationship to the next phase while honoring everything that is true, like that there are sometimes better ways to care for someone than staying married to him.

Click here to read this beautiful essay yourself.

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