Divorce is divorce, right? It’s devastating, shocking, angry, painful, sad…and final. My divorce was all those things…except for the last word on that list…final. Oh, the divorce was final all right, but our relationship wasn’t.
My ex-husband stepped out with a young honey after seventeen years of marriage to me. Never in a million years did I think he would do such a thing. I thought we had a good relationship, and the shock from his disclosure knocked me to my knees. I still think we had a good relationship, and he will tell you he thought so too. But sometimes good isn’t good enough. Sometimes there’s more to be had and it takes a huge explosion to detonate what was, so that new possibilities can emerge.
The young honey didn’t last long, but she played an important role for us. She precipitated our divorce, which turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to us. Her presence propelled us to ask a lot of deep questions of ourselves, and although we had been on a path of self-discovery for years, this cataclysmic event forced us to peel several more layers of the onion. Curbing the finger-pointing, taking responsibility and admitting our own contribution to what happened brought us many realizations.
One was that our marriage was getting in the way of our love. The “rules” stifled us; the daily grind bored us, we took each other for granted, we compromised too many of our wants. We also learned that we still loved each other…very much, and that we needed to find a new form for our relationship. One that was large enough to contain our love and give us the space we needed to expand as individuals.
So we tore up the marriage certificate and made being together a choice instead of a rule of law. We came to our own agreement as to what our relationship would look like. Here’s how it works: we live together ten months out of the year during which time we enjoy our sweet love, companionship, support, and utter devotion to one another. The other two months we spend apart, which gives us time to just be with ourselves, to have different experiences, to live in our own rhythm.
Instead of feeling trapped, we feel free– free to choose each other every day. When people’s histories include a lot of control like ours did, this sense of freedom becomes very important. We couldn’t find it in our marriage, so we did something different. And it works. Our arrangement has allowed our love to blossom.
Wouldn’t it be great if everyone could choose what works best for them, rather than just accepting what society, parents or their friends want? Imagine this: you’re in love; you want to be with this person. After deep reflection and exploration, you and your future partner come to an agreement about how you want your relationship to work, keeping in mind that there’s not a “right way.” Just your way. You are both honest and true to yourselves; no one is coerced. Then you commit to your agreement, and give it your all. And when you’ve grown and changed (hopefully), and the agreement stops working, you revise it to suit the people you have become.
Isn’t that better than trying to fit everyone into the same paradigm? You can pound a square peg forever, but it’s not going to fit into a round hole. Marriage just might not be for you and hopefully you can recognize that before you take the plunge. Otherwise you create a lot of heartache for yourself and everyone concerned.
I’m not against marriage if it works for you. Anything the two of you agree upon is fine. I’m just advocating choice rather than marriage being the automatic default. We need flexibility in our relationships; rigidity breeds discontent.
Breaking free of the old way takes an open mind and courage. There are many brave pioneers who have stepped out of the mold and are happily living in unconventional couplings. You don’t hear much about them because they’re afraid of being judged. I think that’s sad. “Until death do us part” just doesn’t work for everyone. Witness the high divorce rate in first (50%), second (67%) and third (73%) marriages. Why not find what does?
How do you feel about this? I would love to hear.
Check out my book, The Affair: From Breakdown to Breakthrough, A Therapist’s Real-life Journey, to learn how my husband and I got through his affairs and made our bond ever stronger. You can read a synopsis of the book on my website, www.infidelityandaffairs.com and buy it worldwide from all Amazon websites (both print and Kindle) and Barnes and Noble.