When I first read this piece by Matt on why he declined to participate in Huffington Post’s collection on when divorce is the only option, my knee-jerk response was that sometimes divorce is the only option.
When I filed for divorce, my husband was MIA, married to another woman and still actively funneling my credit and paycheck towards his new life.
I certainly didn’t see any other option other than cutting those legal ties as quickly as possible.
But what if I had discovered the infidelities (financial and relational) months before? The decision to divorce at that point would not have been so clear. Perhaps he could have received intensive treatment for addiction. Maybe trust could be rebuilt along with the finances, a team approach towards mending a broken marriage.
And if I had been aware of his shame or his unhappiness or his struggles with employment years before the end (and realized my own fear of confrontation), the entire trajectory of those final years could have been altered. Tracks built together towards a different future.
What if we had made a more conscious start to our relationship rather than simply following one foot in front of the other? What if we had spent more time discussing the potential hardships that can befall a marriage and explore ways to avoid those traps?
Or, tracing that reasoning all the way back, what if I had been more aware of my own struggles with abandonment and anxiety and more attuned to his struggles with avoidance and shame when we first started dating? Maybe I would have chosen a different husband. One that wouldn’t have made divorce the only option.
Any marriage can get to a point (The “F” It Point) where divorce becomes the only option.
From ‘Til Death Do You Part?:
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.
But that point doesn’t spontaneously generate. And its creation is ultimately the responsibility of both partners.
Sometimes divorce is the only option.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
If you enter marriage with your eyes open and your ego checked.
If you commit to fixing yourself rather than blaming another.
If you quiet your fears enough to face the truth and trust that you can make it through.
And if you understand that divorce is always an option and that it takes awareness, intention and effort for it to never become the only option.