Divorce is in the Air

In the last two days, two couples I know have informed me they're divorcing.

I don't know if I can even tally up all the couples I know who have announced they're ending their marriages over the last couple months.  There seems to be an epidemic of divorcing couples in my circle of friends and acquaintances.

The fact so many couples are choosing to divorce, doesn't make it any less painful for my friends who are going through it.

Yesterday, a Twitter friend sent me a link to an article.  You can read the article in its entirety by clicking here, or you can take my word for it when I sum it up in a few sentences.  

Basically, in the article a woman said she "saved" her marriage by "ignoring" her husband's request to end the marriage.  She said she decided to "not take it personally" when he announced he didn't love her, and perhaps never had.

The author stated that for four months her husband "became unreliable" and would come home late, and not bother to call.  He completely ignored her birthday (failing to even utter the words "happy birthday") and blew off holiday weekends.  If he talked to her at all, he avoided eye contact and acted distant.

I don't know what your take is on the above information, but to me it says "affair."  (Not that it really matters because, regardless, he was being a shithead.)

The author said she "waited it out" and compared her marital strategy on how a parent would react to a child's tantrum.  Eventually, her husband decided to stay in the marriage.  She tried to prove to the reader she's not a doormat personality, by informing us she's "handy" with a chain saw.  (??)  

She wrote the essay "to help other people" by sharing her advice/story.

——

I don't know where to begin, so I'm just going to list off some of my immediate thoughts on the above and then I'd love to hear what you think.

 1.  Why does it seem, men who are having affairs ALWAYS say the exact same thing?  They all use the same wording, "I don't love you and I don't know if I ever have" - and/or "I haven't in years."  (And no, the author of the article never does disclose if her husband had an affair, but it does seem implied in her writing.)

 2.  Many people walk away too quickly from their marriages.  I think this is one of the points the author was trying to make, and I agree with her.  

 3.  Many other people stay way too long in loveless/unhealthy marriages they should leave.

 4.  Marriage needs to be based on mutual respect, and in the author's account of her marriage I don't see where her husband had (has?) any respect for her, whatsoever.  (And to be honest, it doesn't seem like she has much respect for him either from the tone of her writing.)

 5.  If she's so handy with a chain saw, why didn't she use it?

 6.  Just kidding about number 5.  Sorta …

 7.  I don't believe a spouse just decides one day, with no previous warning, to walk out.  There are warning signs – we just sometimes prefer to live in denial and not see them.  

 8.  What about marriage counseling as an option instead of a) waving as he walks out the door or b) accepting being treated like shit "for the sake of" saving your family.  Your family will always be your family – even if you divorce.  Both parents may not live in the same house as the children, but those kids still have a mother and father who love them.

 9.  Why did she want someone who treated her so poorly?  Where is her self respect? 

10.  The author repeatedly states her husband's actions weren't about her, but about his own midlife crisis.  I'm not discounting the fact that men (and women) can go through midlife crises, but really?  She doesn't accept any responsibility, at all, for anything negative in her marriage.  I'm sorry, but there are two people in a marriage and I have yet to meet a single person who is relationship-perfect every minute of every day.

Okay, now it's your turn.

What do you think?

© Twenty Four At Heart 

25 Responses to “Divorce is in the Air”

  1. Catch the Kids

    Wow! I can think of nothing more life-draining than living in a loveless marriage. Counselling would be proactive. Also, once a husband has done this once, why not again? I would be on tenterhooks for a long time.

  2. Michelle

    I have a girlfriend who told me a couple of months back that her husband was leaving (he hasn’t gone yet). He told her about 3 months ago, said she’s not giving him what he needs. She has had 2 bouts of cancer, so no libido because of chemo etc; also as the result of back surgery is numb in the nether regions and 1 leg. She accepts there is fault on both sides. They have 2 children in relationships, and 1 child (23) who will be living with them or in care for life as a result of her disability (she is 12 mentally). He says he’s been thinking about it for about 18 months, she says he only told her about 4 months ago.
    It is so hard to stand by and support and love, but, I think, like the writer, he is having a mid-life crisis (65, still working and not having ‘fun’, like his divorced bro).

  3. Cate

    I think you’ve summed it up perfectly in your thoughts. I can sort of understand where she is coming from. but being a doormat does her – and him – no good in the long term.

  4. WebSavvyMom

    –>I can think of nothing worse than forcing a man to stay with me if he’s unhappy. Curb service. Life is too short to waste it with people who don’t make you happy. I use the same philosophy with my friends too and had to phase one out that was always bringing me down with her needs and drama. Buh bye!

  5. Joanne

    I suppose if you get your head in that place where you can actually enjoy making your husband afraid to close both eyes at night, it might be fun (sick,twisted fun, but hey, who am I to judge). They (who?) say that PEOPLE dont make us happy, WE make ourselves happy, which is true I guess. But a rat-bastard under your roof can mess that all up. I guess that is where the chainsaw comes in….

  6. Sandi

    I don’t know if I should pipe up or not. In my previous marriage I was the asshole that blew off my spouse. Yes I was having an affair. I said all the things that the other idiot did, “I don’t love you, I don’t know if I ever did.” There were a hundred things wrong with the marriage.
    BUT in defense of my previous spouse. He really was a great guy. He didn’t do anything WRONG, he just wasn’t the guy for me. He wasn’t emotionally available to me at all. Not because he didn’t love me and want to be available, but he just wasn’t equipped for that. I found that emotional connection with somebody else. I was the problem. I am the one that had the problem.
    Marriage SUCKS when it’s not right. I hate divorce. I hate what I did to my ex and to my kids. BUT, I also know that I am much happier in the marriage I am in now. I am married to a man that understands me and loves me in spite of it.
    I often wonder what would have happened if I sucked up my unhappiness and weathered the storm. I most likely would have jumped off a bridge by now.

  7. Supa Dupa Fresh

    Why has no one mentioned the children? (My comments from hereon out ONLY relate to families with children. Couples without kids can do whatever they want, in my opinion. And if the second partner is an unfit parent? Ignore. And if you’re already divorced? Ignore. The only people who can be affected are those who have a choice ahead of them.)
    The statement from the article that to me, tells the story, is
    “It’s not age-appropriate to expect children to be concerned with their parents’ happiness.”
    One parent’s commitment to their children doesn’t end because they are having a midlife crisis. Once you have a kid, your ability to take a Caribbean vacation, fall in love with someone else, or pursue a new career in the foreign service becomes a
    group decision.
    I know dozens of divorced couples who, after coming up with appropriate co-parenting practices (including only speaking nicely about the other in front of their kids) are in EXACTLY the same place as they were when they were married, had they chosen to remain civil. Except they have two homes, which is incredibly disruptive to the kids.
    We respect our kids’ development in so many ways. Why don’t parents accept that their kids can’t understand our own selfish motivations and that they shouldn’t? Why do we reward our kids for behavior not motivation (not hitting when they are angry) but we expect our husbands to mean every word they say? That’s not reasonable and doesn’t take account of human nature or the nature of marriage: which is compromise.
    Also, is thinking about short term issues really appropriate in parenting?
    It’s not right for parents’ battle of egos to take kids along as collateral damage. Think of them. In the long term, what this wife did was best. In the short term, it hurt, but so does a divorce, right?
    Reframe the issue — look at it as two coparents –and read up on how divorce affects kids — and see what decision you can come to.
    And yes, I’m a widow, if that warps my perspective, so be it: but I take the damage to my child seriously and will still parent through it, whatever happens in the next years. I take comfort only in knowing that I had no choice in her losing her trust in her father and his love and presence.
    I’m sorry I won’t be able to check in to this discussion super actively later today, but will do so at some point.

  8. Rainbowsforkids

    I agree with Supa Dupa and we need to pay attention to the children. As soon as the decision to separate or divorce is made, both parents need to sit down with their children to discuss how the family will be changing. Having both parents present makes a statement that while mom and dad will be living separately, they are still your parents and family issues are being handled together. This may not be true initially, but this can offer comfort to the children. If one parent refuses to participate, then the other must be emotionally strong in front of the children, not accusatory of their estranged spouse, and able to answer the questions and respond to concerns.
    Also, look for warning signs that your child is struggling after the divorce. Behavioral issues can range from drop in grades, being alone more often, or withdrawing from friends, sports and activities that they were involved in earlier. Some kids do not want to sleep alone, they are clingy or their appetite might change. Teens and young adults with built-up grief might turn to drugs and alcohol to temporarily forget the reality of the divorce.
    Look for a place where children can get support, such as through Rainbows For All Children, a peer to peer support program in all 50 states. You can learn more at http://www.rainbows.org.

  9. Erica

    Men do cycle. If you wait things out without letting your spouse think he’ll pay for his current behavior forever then your marriage lasts longer. I guess that’s why it usually takes two to end the marriage. When your kids are small it’s more likely you’ll think he’s worth hanging in there for, when they’re older, it’s less likely. If he’s mean to the kids too, I’d expect most women to end the marriage immediately.

  10. Twenty Four At Heart

    Supa Dupa –
    In the author’s own words, “It’s a story about hearing your husband say, “I don’t love you anymore” and deciding not to believe him. And what can happen as a result.”
    I don’t see her essay as an article about the kids.
    Of course everyone would ideally live in a family with two loving parents who also are madly in love with each other. This isn’t an essay about kids, it’s an article where the author shares her story to give marital advice to other couples. Is part of her desire to stay in her marriage an attempt to not hurt her kids? Yes, she says she doesn’t want her family hurt. Does anyone who makes the painful decision to end their marriage want to hurt their kids? No. Do most people do everything in their power to NOT hurt their kids if the marriage can’t be saved … Well, most of the divorced people I know do. Does divorce hurt kids? In my opinion, yes. Does watching parents in a loveless relationship hurt kids? Yes. Does it hurt kids to NOT have a role model of a loving parent relationship in their lives? Yes. There is rarely a perfect Normal Rockwell world. I think most responsible parents do everything they can to do the best by their children given whatever situation they end up finding themselves in. I just think every situation out there is unique and we have to realize that staying married for the sake of staying married isn’t always in the best interest of anyone.
    As an aside, I’ve been married 23 and a half years and it’s my only marriage. I don’t wish divorce on any family, but I’ve also watched enough families go through it to realize sometimes it is in the best interest of both the kids and parents.

  11. Amy_in_Stl

    I’ve had friends tell me they’ve had affairs and that they’re asking for a divorce because they still love the person they just aren’t in love with them. I tell them all the same thing – being single once you’re out of college sucks. Dating now is weird and hard.
    I was married to my last college boyfriend and although being single is hard; being married to him wasn’t for me. I got married because it was the thing to do and after a year I realized I thought of him as a college buddy not as a guy I loved. He still hates me; but no-one should stay in a marriage if it makes them sad or depressed. However, no-one should throw away years of commitment just because they’re bored or lonely. Even after only a year, we went to counseling just to make sure it couldn’t be saved.
    I completely understand this woman looking the other way because she knew her husband would come back. She might also try to figure out why he strayed and see if they can fix their marriage.

  12. Supa Dupa Fresh

    Of dozens of families in my community, I haven’t really seen any families where divorce worked out to be in the best interest of the children in the long term. The best of them end up in the same sort of lukewarm parental relationship they would have had anyway, doing decent co-parenting, but both households much poorer, tons of logistics hassles, and with the kids bearing the blame and scars deep inside for years. And the parents get to have another romance with flowers! and beaches! and so on.
    What I see is the scars of parent loss and widowhood, abandonment, hatred, crisis prolonged, but without any outside force (like cancer or a car accident) causing it: caused by the parent’s choices. I think MANY of them, 10 years later, DO regret it. Just of the families I know.
    There are good divorces, but they consider the kids’ needs first. I think I know two families that did that. The main value they seem to have is keeping the household surrounding the kids intact and avoiding rancor in public.
    To me, the Norman Rockwell version is where everyone gets divorced because they are all dreaming of some perfect life. Working it out? Not very American at ALL. Sort of Chinese — pragmatic and duty-bound — as we all must become, to some extent, when we reproduce.
    I do see the author’s concern for her family underlying most of the words of the article, but you’re right that she doesn’t mention it specifically.
    So, different framing.

  13. Neil

    Not sure which side I fall on, but that was interesting. I do respect the woman’s strength of character, though. I don’t see her as a pushover at all. She was the strong one.

  14. Jess

    I may not be married in the eyes of the law, but being practically married makes things pretty tough and I assume that possessing a piece of paper and making “the promise” only adds to the difficulty. Speaking with Husfriend’s mom the other day, she said something that will stick with me forever. “Whether you’re married to someone for 18 days or 18 years, never stop communicating because everyone is always evolving as a person.” How fantastic is that?!
    Now, Husfriend and I have been together for almost 4 years and once we decide to do the paper and a party thing people call a wedding, everyone else will get to share what we try to celebrate everyday…even when we’re fighting over CRUMBS ON THE KITCHEN COUNTER!! Because you know you’re going to laugh about how silly you both were in ten minutes. 😉

  15. avasmommy

    I resent being told that divorce is a choice. For all of us, it’s not.
    Yes, for many couples, it is a mutual decision. And one I doubt any couple, especially those with children ever arrives at lightly.
    You can’t force someone to stay with you if they decide they want out. And frankly, why would you want to? The fact is that woman’s husband never really had any intention of leaving. If he had, he would have left, regardless of her emotional manipulation.
    I am in the beginning of a divorce now. My husband wants out. Does not want to try, no more counseling, etc. Nothing I have said, done or pleaded has made any difference. And if you don’t think I worry about what it’s doing to my daughter every single second of the day, you are wrong. It tears me up to know what splitting this family will mean for her. But I have no choice. I can’t make someone love me and want to stay here. It doesn’t work that way.

  16. Issa

    I had to back away from that whole conversation. it’s just too raw for me. I mean shit, my divorce was final less than a week ago.
    Sigh. I think that what works for one couple may only work for that couple. Yes, maybe people get divorced too easily. However? People get married for the wrong reasons too, ya know?
    For me (and this is just me) I missed the warning signs that our marriage was failing. Because I was messed up by life circumstances. Because he hid it well. Because we got married so young and never really thought about what happens when we changed in different ways.
    But a blanket statement that people should just not allow their spouse to leave? Is just messed up. I just don’t agree. I don’t see how that life, how an unhappy marriage is any better on anyone, that a divorce. For the record? I have a decent divorce. My kids are happy and healthy and they know we both adore them. We do things together at times, with no problem.

  17. Major Bedhead

    A few thoughts:
    The husband was a selfish prick. He didn’t just check out on his wife, he checked out on his children as well. He didn’t show up for family functions, wasn’t there for important things and showed his wife absolutely no respect whatsoever. That is not good parenting. I would have kicked his ass to the curb for it, and for the affair, if that’s what was going on.
    If they have managed to work things out without talking about it, without going to counseling, I think it’s only a matter of time before it happens again, for one or the other of them. How that woman has no resentment about how she and her children were treated is beyond me. I would have been furious.
    My soon-to-be-ex checked out long before the marriage ended. He’d found someone else and was professing his love and devotion to her while telling me he wanted to work things out. His idea of working things out was to hang out with his buddies and drink. He refused to go to counseling, refused to read any of the books I bought and refused to talk to me about our problems. I was willing to work on things until I found out about the other woman and read his proposal to her (on his friggin’ Facebook page) for myself. Since this wasn’t the first time he’d become involved with someone else, I had to end things. I can’t be with someone that untrustworthy.
    I’m not happy that this divorce is going to mess up my kids. Not even slightly. I didn’t want it and I am doing my best to make sure my kids don’t get too messed up by this.

  18. Jack

    I am tired of reading comments from women who seem to think that it is ok to blame men for the problems in a relationship. Tired of reading comments that suggest that people who are getting divorced don’t have any thoughts/concerns for the children.
    Blanket characterizations don’t work for any of us and they serve only to divide.
    Not every marriage is meant to last. It is not a nice thing or a feel good comment, but it is reality. I am not at all in favor of trying to force someone to stay who doesn’t want to be there.
    It is not a good idea as it just leads to other problems. If a relationship reaches a place where someone wants to leave the chances are that something has been wrong for a long time.
    Sometimes they can be worked out and sometimes they can’t. There are things that just can’t be worked out or compromised on.
    Two happy parents are better for children than two unhappy ones.

  19. Erica

    People who say kids don’t need happy parents, just ones who are nice to each other, and to them, are right. I was horrified when I recently learned that my kids’ best family vacation was the one we nearly canceled but couldn’t get our deposit back. My ex and I were teeth-grindingly polite to each other for two weeks in the Caribbean, but personally miserable. And the kids LOVED it! Ha ha ha!
    It’s just really hard to keep that up when you both can’t stop believing that your personal happiness has to come from your relationship with your spouse.

  20. Greta

    My parents stayed together, but shouldn’t have. I will never get over what happened as a result. Sometimes divorce is best for the kids too, you know. Our lives would have been more harmonious if we could have lived with mum and visited my loving, but mentally unstable father. I don’t think you can judge another person’s situation – only the people in it can judge what is best for all concerned.

  21. Maggie

    Her = Doormat
    Him = Asshole
    The children = victims of stupidity and fucktardness
    The situation = freakin’ ridonculous

  22. Michelle

    I have a friend whose parents divorced when she was in her 40’s. She says it hurts as much as it would have if she had been a child still at home.

  23. Annie

    My husband walked out on me, no warning. I went to work, he called me and said he left and was not coming back. He filed for divorce and I told him I wasnt going to, I didn’t want a divorce, in California that doesnt matter. I am now divorced, and I was only married 7 years. It was like someone cut my heart out.

  24. Rob

    I’d like to know just how often marriage counseling preserves the relationship and just how it sustains it.
    My experience is that one wants to make the effort and the other is just going through the motions. The marriage is already over and (s)he is agreeing to it to “let you down lightly”.

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