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Lessons From the End of a Marriage

A “How to Thrive” Guide After Divorce


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My husband made me cry today.

Yeah, I know. He didn’t really “make me” cry. I have the choice in how I respond, blah, blah, blah.

Because the way I see it today is that his actions could have led to no other response.


Let me explain and let’s see if you agree.

Today was Lisa Arends’ terrible, horrible, no good very bad day.

It started on my early morning commute to work. I was a couple miles from the house this morning when my “check engine” light came on and the car started feeling funny. I immediately pulled into a parking lot and shut off the engine even as I dialed my husband on my cell.

I’ve been playing a bit of Russian Roulette with this car for the past few years. I bought it new 15 years ago. Yeah, 15. When I bought it, I wasn’t even married the first time yet. Hell, I was barely of legal drinking age. For the most part, it has been dependable, but it’s of an age where a fatal incident may come at any time.

But I’m not ready yet. I’m still about 9 months away from cleaning up the rest of the financial mess that my lovely ex left for me and, until that is done, I don’t have the extra cash on hand for a car payment. Plus, I also still have his parting gift of bad credit to deal with. So, needless to say, that glaring red light on my dash this morning felt like the eye of Smaug before I was to be stricken from this earth.

I felt horrible waking up my husband, still recovering from surgery, but I had to get to work to handle the yearbook distribution. Without a grumble, he picked me up, ferried me to school, contacted his mechanic friend and waiting with my car until AAA showed up with a tow truck.

But I wasn’t crying yet.

The yearbooks went okay. Everything else? Not so much.

The graphing calculators, instrumental for the today’s lesson, must have been visited by some vampire version of the Energizer Bunny last night, as all of their batteries decided to drain en masse. And the school’s stock of AAA (not the auto company!) batteries in the last week of school? Let’s just say weak.

I managed to beg, borrow and steal enough batteries to cobble together the lesson. So far, so….okay. But then one of the critical websites disappeared. Not okay. I scrambled to find a work around while my kids (did I mention last week of school) got ever nuttier. The day was capped off by one of my students telling me he hated me and hated my class. If you’ve ever thought being around middle schoolers all day is sunshine and roses, you may need to take a Saturday trip to mall. And then try to make the random teenagers do math.

A coworker was driving me home where I was supposed to go with my husband to pick up the car. On the way, I received a text, “Will you grab my wallet out of the driver’s side door of my car on your way in?”

“Sure,” I responded.

Minutes later, I struggled to locate his wallet with my purse strangling me and my suitcase-sized lunch bag (no joke) bumping into my car behind me.

My car!?!

I’m embarrassed to admit it took me a few moments (a few meaning several here) to notice that my car was in the garage. I blame emotional exhaustion.

I bolted upstairs.

“What, why, how…?”

“I took care of it.”

He then referenced an old conversation. He used to ride motorcycles back when we met. He sold his bike when he decided it was too risky. Ever since, he’s been talking about getting a Corvette in its place at some point in the near future. I expressed some reservations, mainly arising from my own fears. I worried that if a Corvette was in the picture and my car suffered a premature death, that I would be in a bind. He assured me during that conversation that he had my back.

“Do you remember when we talked about the Corvette and I said I had your back with your car?”


“Today I showed it.”


The cost.

The stress of dealing with it.

The uncertainty of work while being carless.

All done.

Taken care of.

See. How could I not cry?

In most ways, I trust him easily now. But when it comes to money and my basic needs (like a car), it’s harder for me to be dependent on someone else.

I depended before, and I was horribly burned.

But that was then, and this is now.

And after today, when he says, “I’ve got your back,” I’ll trust him to catch me if I fall.

Just as the tears are falling now.


And, yeah, he IS a keeper!




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14 thoughts on “Dependable

  1. When the first husband left, did you even entertain the thought that God had something better for you? How blessed have you been through all of this. All the credit card debt and the looting of the accounts is turning out to be a only a down payment on a better life. If someone had said I can give you a happier and better life for only these few dollars, would you have believed it? He is DEFINITELY a keeper like I said before, and so are you. The first a$$ lost all the way around. You have had your revenge.

    1. “Down payment on a better life” – I. Love. This!!! Yes! Enthusiastically, yes!

      Each month, when I write the check towards my ex’s debt, I write a reason I’m thankful. The one you just gave me is good enough to be used for the final 9 payments!

      Thank you:)

  2. I agree with Dan 110% he said it better than I ever could. So ditto what Dan said!!
    You are blessed, but I am sure your husband feels blessed also. Good relationships are like that.

  3. Trust is so hard. I have been having these conversations with a friend of mine recently. He asked me ‘would I recognize love if it rang my doorbell?’ and ‘what would I do if it did?”

    The answers are always the same, ‘No’, and ‘I don’t know’. The reason is always the same also, trust.

    Your husband is spectacular. Trusting is hard, but you are getting there and I think I will just follow along with a smile on my face.

  4. Every time my husband helps me and takes care of me when I’m having a health problem, I cry. My ex left because he didn’t want to deal with a sick wife, but my husband takes care of me without even the slightest complaint or hint of resentment. It’s beautiful to be in such a different relationship.

    1. So happy for you!

      One of the things that’s been hard for me is that my ex was also dependable and kind and giving. At least to all appearances. He would fix my car without complaint, nurture me when I was sick and help me daily in ways big and small. I’m thankful that he did those things, but it also makes it harder for me to trust in kindness for kindness sake now. I’m learning to believe in it again.

  5. What a beautiful story. So with all the hard ache your ex created making you develop that difficulty in trust : your husband gave that back to you and that is worth a tear drop or two : the realization that good things always comes to good people. Yay

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