Til Death Do You Part?

I got into a Twitter conversation yesterday with a man whose view intrigued me. From what I can gather, he is divorced with a couple young kids.

A divorce he didn’t want.

A divorce, that for whatever reason, his wife did.

And even though the vows are now broken, he is still maintaining his promise of fidelity to her until death severs their oath.

I can certainly see why someone would choose not to date while they are focused on raising their children. I can empathize with the decision to avoid the balancing act of blending families. And I can even appreciate someone electing to not reenter the dating world out of fear of additional heartbreak or simply a discovery of contentment with singlehood.

But the piece I can’t seem to wrap my head around is keeping a promise to someone who has made it very clear that your loyalty is not valued.

He offered a clue that the rejection by the one he trusted the most delivered a message that he had no value.

And I think everyone that has faced betrayal and rejection can identify with that sentiment. It’s certainly hard to disentangle your views of yourself with your ex-partner’s (new) views of you.

Yet, even with that, I struggle with the idea of a one-sided pledge of allegiance.

I see the vows as like the wheels on a bicycle. Ideally, both are fully functioning and working in concert. If one tire is a little flat, the other can help support the weight for a time until the tire is re-inflated. If one wheel is bent, the ride may not be over as long as the metal is hammered back into shape. Yet if one wheel is removed, the bicycle is useless no matter how hard the remaining wheel works. And it’s time to either find a new wheel or learn how to ride a unicycle.

That’s my two cents. What’s yours?

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23 thoughts on “Til Death Do You Part?

  1. Such a sad post….but honestly Time does really heal (well if not heal..mellows) …the jagged lines of pain some how become a little less hurtful…it is a journey and by putting one put in front of the other, he will come around…

  2. Here’s my take:

    Let’s say you meet someone and you are interested in them, but they aren’t interested in you. Are you in a relationship? It’s pretty clear to me that the answer is no.

    Let’s say you start dating someone and you are serious about them, but they are dating other people on the side. Are you in a relationship? Still no.

    A relationship only becomes “a relationship” when it’s reciprocal. If it’s not, you really don’t have anything.

    So if you get married/live together/whatever and you ARE in a relationship, and then one person checks out (maybe emotionally, maybe having an affair) it’s really not much different from the above scenarios.

    It doesn’t matter how much one person wants things to work out, unless it’s reciprocal the relationship is over. Thats not to say it couldn’t potentially be rebuilt in the future, but one person “staying” in a relationship that has ended doesn’t do them much good.

    I believe in commitment, and I believe that saying “I do” means a lot. If my wife checks out I would give it some time (depending on what she did) to see if it’s just a phase, a bad spot or something like that. But if it’s clear from her actions and attitudes that our relationship is over, then it’s over – even if that’s not what I want.

    At that point in time, life moves on. I don’t think I would find someone else immediately, but as I get older and see that the years remaining are likely less than the years past, I would defintely still want someone to share my life with.

    1. I’ve been divorced for a year and I like the gentleman described has been keeping a promise to someone who has made it clear that the marriage is over. I appreciate your examples and every word you said made perfect sense to me. I never quite saw it like that. Thank you

      1. Believe me, it took me a while to understand that. Because I believed strongly in the vows of marriage and in what commitment meant to me, I held on in a situation much longer than I should have. Accepting that something was over felt like giving up, and a part of me believed that if I could hold on long enough things would get better.

        It was only when I came up with those scenarios that I realized I was holding on to something that was already gone. There’s a line in a U2 song – when you hold onto something so tight, you’ve already lost it. That was me.

        Letting go hurt like hell, but I needed to do it in order to heal. And once I did, it was like a weight had been lifted.

        I know I’m a good person, and I believe in me. I know I bring a lot to the table in a relationship. I wasn’t doing myself or my children any good by holding onto a marriage that was already gone.

  3. I am one of those people who take vows, very, very seriously, It isn’t something to be taken lightly or until hard times do us part. Yet I got to a crossroads in my life where my vows where brought into question. Do I continue to honor my vows I made before god, or do I terminate the marriage/relationship as he clearly found a “I found someone better” route. He checked out, and he failed out. For a short time I tried, to get him to check back in, but there was a point I realized his affections were permanently altered to someone else and no amount of effort on my part was going to change that. I feel bad for the people who chose the death do us part route to an ending relationship, But my choice was to abandon the sinking ship of my relationship before it permanently drowned me in despair for the rest of my life. I am the one who filed for divorce and started the proceedings, rather quickly after he chose another partner I might add. I moved on, he moved on, I have no clue if his life is happy or not, even though we parallel parent 2 kids together (not co-parenting), but what I do know is because I made the choice I did at the time I did, the injury to my ego and self was not as severe as it would have had I prolonged it, it still hurts, scars will always be there and felt but I do pretty well despite the betrayal, humiliation, and emotional injuries I received from the one who promised to cherish me til death do us part, my grandmother’s favorite quote came back to me from my childhood when she would turn and look at me and say,

    “the key to life well lived is learning to spot a sinking ship before it drowns you” My marriage was that sinking ship.

  4. I had often voiced that I won’t feel divorced even with the divorce certificate in my hands. A document signed by a judge that doesn’t have a clue of who I’m. Part of the problem is my religious background and part due to the fact that it was a one sided marriage for so long. With that said, I have to aknowledge the fact that one day I may meet someone that may make my heart skip a beat. Who knows, I think its about timing.

  5. Without knowing much more about the man than what he shared with you and what you shared with us, that thought process can stem from the idea of the indissolubility of marriage. And that perspective usually comes from the idea that there is a supernatural, spiritual component to the sacrament of Holy Matrimony that goes beyond the civil contract.

    From that perspective, sure – a marriage can be civilly dissolved but it can never be spiritually dissolved. The only way out is if the marriage itself is decreed to be null and void, which is where we get the term “annulment.” But here’s where it gets tricky – the conditions for annulment had to exist at the time of the wedding. Which is not as outrageous as you might think – for example, my first husband started cheating on me within a week of us getting married. It was pretty easy to show that he didn’t mean a word of the marriage vows.

    I am not sure why this guy has resigned himself to this – maybe he doesn’t think an annulment would be appropriate or would be approved? Maybe he’s trying to do the honorable thing? I don’t know. I do know for me that I love being married to my husband and I can’t imagine life without him, so I hope this guy is able to find the happiness and companionship from marriage in the future.

    All of the above is assuming the guy is Catholic, which I acknowledge is assuming a LOT, but it is one example of how and why he might be in the place that he is now.

  6. A marriage vow is just that a vow.
    It is up to the individual person on if they keep it or not.
    After a separation/divorce religious guilt be it Catholic (yes I’m Catholic) or otherwise can be a strong motivation for someone to keep them.
    I weighed the pros and cons on the whole death till you part aspect. At first I took the moral high road, but me personally I finally thought more about hey if she’s happy then why can’t I.So I started dating.

    I do wish this guy luck with whatever he chooses. Either way it is his choice and what he needs to do for his own happiness.

  7. I think the man you’re talking about is still going through the initial ‘mad’ stage after divorce (this can last for any amount of time, or indefinitely).
    As much as he wants, no good can come from pledging fidelity to someone who has left him, it’s a two way thing and there’s only one of them left. It’s probably early days, once he has accepted it’s over, hopefully he’ll work though it and move forward (when he’s ready and can do so).
    I think our whole society has to admit that not all marriages last for ever, no matter how much you want them to, it would make it easier for those of us whose relationships end.

  8. I love that analogy!!!!! That is perfect! This is a devastating thing and I have certainly been the person trying to ride a bicycle with only 3 working wheels. And it’s hard, if not impossible. I’ve chosen the unicycle for this season. Great post!

  9. I think this gentleman needs some serious therapy. He certainly is not living in reality. When you divorce the marriage is dead. it’s really quite that simple. If you have children, you have to co-parent and interact with each other. It will never be the same and it shouldn’t be. I know there are some religions and beliefs that practice the “death do we part” but that just isn’t reality. It is a good way of avoiding the inevitable feelings that come with a divorce; depression, betrayal, disbelief and denial to name a few. Time to live in the “now” and move on with your life, for your well being and your kids!! Thank you Lisa for the great conversations!

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