I don’t know you, I don’t know the details of your story, I don’t know the actors, plot or play. But before you make the decision, the one you may already have declared and decided in your heart, I ask you to read this.
I once stood where you are, I once packed my bags and left. There was nothing left in my heart, no love lost. I was numb. I was so determined to end my marriage, that nothing could have stopped me at the time (I sometimes like to think that had he got on a plane and declared his undying love in a banner attached to it, I would have stayed). I felt almost liberated in my decision, as if somewhere there was a crowd of people cheering me on for following my heart, leaving a marriage that was dull and unfulfilling. At that stage, that seemed like a good enough reason, that and the fact that I had fallen in love with someone else.
It never is about a third party, that is true. A marriage is broken long before the heart looks elsewhere. But what no book tells you, the part Paulo Coelho and Eat, Pray and Love leave out, is that when you end your marriage, something sacred dies and you lose parts of yourself you may never recover (not even after visiting every monastery and following every new age ‘follow your heart’, ‘heal your inner child’ philosophy).
Some people say divorce is worse than death, and seven years on, I now agree, particularly those marriages that end for the wrong reason (I exclude abuse and substance dependency) the ‘we have grown apart’ ones. So here is my little list I have compiled over the years of what it is really like ‘uncoupling’ like Gwyneth Paltrow calls it:
· You will never have closure, you will spend the rest of your life wondering if you could have saved your first marriage.
· You will feel a tinge of sadness at every marriage ceremony you attend.
· People linked to your first marriage will die, marry, have kids. These are people you loved and were a part of your life for a long time and a part of you will feel that you have a right to mourn or share in the experience with your partner, but you no longer do.
· Your own family will be torn apart in loyalty.
· You will lose many friends, more than you can imagine now. You may reason that they were not true friends to start off with, but it will still sting.
· Your heart will break the first time you see your partner with his new girlfriend on facebook. They will look like something from the Vampire Diaries and you will feel ugly and insecure.
· A whole part of your life becomes uncomfortable to remember, because so much of you was shared with someone else.
· The day you stand in court and end your marriage, the sun won’t shine any different, the moon won’t shift an inch, no one salutes you for following your heart and your story is unlikely to follow the path of Eat, Pray, Love.
· The next person you fall in love with, is probably a psychopath.
· Long after you are divorced, you will hear a song, read a book or hear a phrase that reminds you of your first marriage.
· You will mourn for a very long time and just when you think you were over it, something will remind you you are not.
· The issues you had with your first partner, will resurface in your next relationship or marriage and be magnified. You will face the same plot, with different actors (and your mother in law may be ten times worse).
This is just my short list.
I once read a list of questions to ask yourself before you get divorced and want to kick myself for not keeping it, but I remember what struck me most was what it means when you have kids. You better be prepared for someone else to be involved in raising your kids and the reality is, you have little say who the person is, and how much influence they will have.
Every marriage deserves a second chance, deserves hours of counciling before that final bell rings and any third party with one fibre of moral value will give the marriage that chance, or forever be doomed to a life of insecurity.
And then, if you still decide to follow that path, know that what comes next is not easy, is not like the movies or any novel you have read. You are going to mourn for yourself, for a shared dream that is lost. You are going to struggle to find yourself again and some parts may be irrecoverable.
But God is gracious and he grants everyone a second chance, a new beginning. Still I think every angel in heaven prays that first marriages survive.
There is no good in divorce. It leaves a trail of destruction, long after those papers are signed and sealed. It results in broken people.
This post was the starting point of a novel that aims to tell the story of a couple’s divorce from both sides.
It is available here.