Which metaphor best describes your divorce?
1 – The Too-Small House
It seems perfect. The spaces seem custom-built to accommodate your needs and it immediately feels like a home. Over time, as the family grows and the demands on the home increase, those walls that once felt comforting begin to feel like a prison. The house is simply too small.
Sometimes people outgrow relationships. The person that once fit nicely into their lives is now a source of frustration. Support has turned into constriction and the need to fully expand becomes too great to ignore.
2 – The Unraveling of the Favorite Sweater
At first, it is coveted, although a little unfamiliar. It still holds the creases of the hanger and the pigment is true and bright. Over time, it begins to mold to your body. Soften. It is a familiar hug, a safe place to return. The initial damage seems slight, inconsequential. It’s only a loose thread. Yet that single thread is what holds the sweater together.
Marriages can mirror this same pathway, moving from shiny and new to familiar and then to worn and damaged. There is a both bittersweet memory of the original shape and a discontentment with the current status.
3 – The Sudden Allergy
It comes on quickly, a shock to all present. What was perfectly acceptable and even enjoyed has now become a source of illness. The underlying cause of the dramatic change is difficult to pinpoint. But the result is the same. These two entities can simply no longer coexist.
In relationships, this sudden allergy may be due to some environmental shift or it can also arise from unidentified underlying issues. The abrupt shift will come as a surprise and it may take some time to accept the needed alterations. Yet, until this essential incompatibility is addressed, the maladaptive reactions will continue to occur.
4 – A Graduation
At some point, the student no longer needs the teacher. Graduation brings about complex emotions. It is the remembrance of all the lessons learned and the shared struggles and triumphs in the classroom. There is celebration born from completion and also fear of the upcoming unknown and a concern about being ready to tackle the challenges ahead.
Some marriages end because the lessons have been learned. It becomes time to close one chapter in order to begin the next where the lessons can now be applied in a new situation. These are bittersweet endings as the shared journey is remembered and honored even as the natural end is acknowledged.
5 – The Rotten Apple
It seems so tempting. It’s taut and shiny skin unblemished under the artificial lights of the store. It promises sweet, crispy sustenance just beneath the surface. With joyous anticipation, you bite down. Only to discover that the flesh beneath the skin is black and rotten.
These are the marriages entered into with the narcissist or other personality that likes to hide behind shiny promises. It seems too good to be true. And eventually, you discover that it is.
6 – A Remodel
At one point, the decor was perfect for you. It matched your aesthetic and your lifestyle. But then your tastes changed, slowly at first. You began small, replacing some artwork and maybe freshening up the throw pillows. Over time, you start to realize that the changes have a domino effect and that the entire space needs an overhaul.
We all change over time and through experiences. Sometimes we find that these small changes have a compounding effect and that a relationship that once fit in nicely no longer matches anything else.
7 – Vision Correction
The lens clicks into place and suddenly the eye chart, once nothing but a muddy blur, comes into sharp focus. You see it all and for once, you see it clearly. You no longer have to guess at the truth behind the fuzzy images.
Sometimes we have trouble truly seeing the person right in front of us. And when our vision is blurry, we fill in the details with expectations and assumptions, often born from past experiences. It can be quite surprising when your vision is suddenly corrected and you see the person as they are. Especially when you realize that the reality is far from what you imagined.
8 – The Training Wheels
We fix training wheels to children’s bicycles not because of any physical need, but to address their need for a sense of security and safety. Likewise, their removal is due more to an increase in confidence than in a change in ability.
Sometimes relationships are the preferred training wheels of adults. These are partnerships often entered into young, before the individuals have developed confidence in themselves to be able to operate alone. Then, as one or both spouses begin to replace their self-doubt with more assurance, they may discover that the training wheels are no longer needed and that they would prefer to ride unencumbered.
9 – A Malignancy
It has to come out. The tumor is a source of poison, restricting life-force and threatening your very survival. It will be painful. Brutal, even, as there is a certain about of healthy tissue that must be removed as well in order to assure that all of the diseased material is removed. Yet even with the trauma, the removal brings a sense of hope.
These are the abusive marriages. The abuser inhabits their victim, slowly programming the cells to behave as they dictate. As with a tumor, the removal must be swift and it will be painful. And there may be some residual scars left behind.
10 – The Tsunami
There is no sign of impending disaster. The skies are blue, the water clear. And then, without warning, the placid ocean becomes a voracious beast, swallowing what seems to be the entire world. Leaving behind nothing but destruction and emptiness.
Some marriages end with the suddenness and force of a tsunami. Often, the one leaving has been silently gathering up resources and making plans. And once they act, they disappear without concern for what was left in their wake.