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Lessons From the End of a Marriage

A “How to Thrive” Guide After Divorce

Diving for Pearls

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There are times when Truth is important –

When my students use verified geometric theorems to prove triangles congruent.

When my husband tells me where he’s going on a Tuesday night.

When my doctor asks about my family history of cancer.


And then there are times when Truth really doesn’t matter.


A person reached out to me yesterday with the concern about their place in their former partner’s view – did they love me or did they use me?

As I sat on the bench in the gym locker room typing out a response, I was transported to a time when that same question consumed me. As the details of my husband’s other life began to surface, I couldn’t help but contrast what I was feeling at that time (loved) with what he was doing at the time (anything but loving). There was no doubt that he was acting without concern for me towards the end, but did that mean that he never cared for the entire sixteen years?

I was obsessed with answering this question. I would consider evidence in the form of memories or discovered facts and dutifully enter a mental tally mark in either the “He loved me” or the “He loved me not” column. And yet, I never seemed able to settle on a true answer. For every indication that he loved me at some time, I could find a counterclaim that I was merely a pawn in his game.

I was looking for definite proof. For Truth.

But what I really wanted was for the pain to stop.

And Truth, assuming it could even be ascertained, really didn’t matter.


I made a conscious decision to retire my search for Truth. I accepted that he had used me  in the final few years of the marriage and I chose to believe that the love I felt prior to that was real. Maybe I’m right and he did have the capacity for love until he collapsed under the pressure of shame and addiction. Or, I may be completely off base and he may have been a manipulative sociopath from the beginning.

It doesn’t matter.

The marriage is over. I don’t need this information to make any decisions in the present moment. My views don’t impact my ex one way or the other. I’m not presenting this conclusion as definitive and I’m not deceiving anyone. There are no judges evaluating the evidence for my claim and no real-world repercussions either way.

It only matters within me.

So I choose to believe the truth that brings me peace and allows me to hold onto some of the good memories instead of throwing sixteen years of my life away.


Oysters developed a resourceful strategy for handling unwanted and irritating invaders. In order to reduce the pain from a wayward grain of sand or grit, they surround the unwanted particle with smooth coating of calcium carbonate.

That’s how I see my resolution to conclude that I was once loved by him – a pearl enveloping and softening the pain.

And it may not be Truth in any real sense, but it’s real enough to me.


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8 thoughts on “Diving for Pearls

  1. that was a great blog– that helped me as well. my ex wife left after 20 years – she’s now with my best friend. I still love her so much and wonder how long was she pretending. She says a year and a half before we split. but I have cards, dates, family functions that show otherwise. she must have been a good actor. people say it doesn’t matter now but it matters to me. Your blog helps. She did love me at one point. I just wish she would have told me about her thoughts of leaving me. Blindsided.

    still hurting after 1.5 years.

  2. I completely understand the need to let go of searching for the Truth. It will spin you in circles and leave you dizzy. It’s like many eyewitnesses to crimes- they are absolutely convinced of details of what they saw and are totally credible- but other evidence turns out to prove them as wildly inaccurate and sometimes unknowingly biased. Thanks for posting.

    1. The eyewitness comparison is a great one! I remember how eye-opening (pun intended!) an experience I had in 5th grade was about the fallibility of memory. A person came into the classroom and handed something to the teacher. A few minutes later, we were all tasked with describing everything we could about the person and the incident. The variety of responses was incredible. Then, the person came back in and the exchanged item was brought back into the open. We compared our memories to the reality. Nobody described everything correctly.

      1. Do you think maybe part of it also may be that in some way it is soothing, searching for the “truth” during a time of great stress? Like searching for a way to fix something that just isn’t fixable? I do know that when I finally stopped searching for reasons, I found more real strength.

  3. My ex told me that he never loved me, never should have married me, never should have had kids with me.
    We were married 18 years and so as it ended I grappled with if he ever loved me.
    I will never really know.
    However I truly loved him, I chose him daily. Love isn’t what we receive it’s what we give.
    So I know I have the capacity to love and for now maybe that’s my kids and my friends.

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