When I got married nearly 40 years ago, I did not get married to become divorced. I don’t think anyone gets married to get divorced, yet it happens.
In hindsight – yes, hindsight is 20-20, I never should have married my previous husband. I fell in love with the charming, good-looking, athletic life of the party man.
There were so many signs that I missed that we weren’t meant for each other. I don’t want to share this to be negative, I only wish to impart my knowledge and spare another mis-matched couple from harm.
While we were still dating, I frequently found myself playing second fiddle to his friends. There were times that I wanted to make plans, but they were put on hold until he first found out what his friends were doing. My only excuse to tolerating this sort of treatment was love was blind. I had a fairy tale image of what our relationship would be like once we were married. We would both work and after work, we would come home, have dinner and spend the evening together. In my head, our marriage was a replication of Leave it to Beaver, where June Cleaver was the housewife that held the home together and Ward Cleaver is the husband who comes home after a hard day to his loving wife. That vision burst just a few days after returning from our honeymoon.
The same habits that were in place prior to our marriage did not change. Somewhere, I created this expectation that he would change – just because we were now married. Without me communicating to him what I felt our marriage would look and feel like, I was disappointed. This was so different than what the pastor told us as we went through pre-marriage counseling. He said that if we were going to fight or argue over anything, it would be money. These unmet and unexpressed expectations were the polar opposite of money problems.
My husband was fun and other people loved being around him. He was the host of parties where friends and family gathered. Together, we established a tradition of throwing elaborate get-togethers that included catered food, formal evening gowns for the women, tuxedos for the men and liquor that flowed easily. I loved the man I married until I realized his party-throwing, was not just on special occasions, it was his way of life.
I had been married for 22 years when I decided to file for divorce. It was up to me to make changes that would preserve my mental and physical health and do what was right for the kids. Mentally, I was in a non-loving relationship and my health was beginning to show signs of deterioration due to stress.
I had a lot of fear associated with divorcing. One of those was financial. I hadn’t worked outside our home since the death of our oldest daughter. I was also afraid of being judged, who would get custody of the kids and how would the kids fare through this trauma.
I wasn’t prepared for the reaction when I told the kids we were getting divorced. My son was angry and wanted to spend time with his friends. My second daughter asked me why we couldn’t wait until she was out of high school. Although divorce is very difficult for children, I understood the example I was setting by remaining in an unhealthy relationship and the long-term impact it would have on all my children.
Go into your marriage with your eyes wide open. The person you love and know will be the same person once a ring is on their finger. Consider asking close friends and family if they see any red flags. I wish my friends and parents had told me what they saw. I at least would have known what I was getting into and not be blindsided by love.
Look at your own expectations of what your marriage will look like. Have you shared your thoughts? Do you both see the same future? Are you on the same page? Spend some time evaluating your answers. This inner reflection will help to see beyond the puppy love and honeymoon stage.
Communication is key in any relationship. I failed to express what I envisioned our life together would look like. I truly believe having a hard, yet truthful conversation would have alleviated a marriage that ended in divorce.
Not every moment was horrible. I am grateful for the good times we had together and for the 4 children we brought into this world.
When I step into my next relationship, I am committed to communicating what I want, listening to what they want and seeing what the future holds.