When my husband and I were first divorced, I was absolutely sure that he was entirely at fault.
Our relationship, though full of love, had been a long and difficult one and I was positive, that I had had to put up with more from him over the years than he had from me.
But as I began to move through the pain of our divorce and look at my own part in our marriage, I became aware that there were things I could have done differently.
At first, as I came to this realization… I couldn’t help but beat myself up thinking, If I would have done this or if I just wouldn’t have done that… things would have worked out and everything would be fine. We would still be together.
But that is not an honest truth.
For our marriage to have worked out, we both would have had to change our behaviors radically and there was still no guarantee that we would have been successful in the end:
Marriage is difficult even in the best of situations.
After I grieved about my mistakes, and allowed myself to wallow a bit in self-pity, I got to the real work: looking at what I had done, my part in things, admitting that I wasn’t a saint in my marriage, and becoming aware of my own character flaws so that I could work towards becoming a better person in my present and future relationships.
Last night, I was asking someone for something I wanted in our relationship and worried that I was sounding like a “harpie” or making the situation worse. I said, “I don’t want to badger you about this…”
And their reply?
“You are not badgering. You are making me aware of your needs and if I am aware, I can work towards meeting them.”
I was thankful for their willingness to listen, to change, to move forward in our relationship together… both of us working towards meeting each other’s requests and I was reminded once again that being made aware can lead to more spiritual footwork but… will eventually lead to a stronger spiritual foundation if I have the courage to face my character flaws and work towards letting them go.
“Dear God, help me to be willing to change. Help me to listen to requests from those I love with an open heart.”
What a great post. I’ve been moving from one end of the scale to the other on this, sometimes from day to day.
Many friends and family say, “you didn’t do this, you don’t deserve to have been treated as you were treated”, etc. — and even my ex: “it’s not your fault and don’t ever think it’s something YOU did wrong”.
Well, it takes two otherwise it wouldn’t be a year since divorce was filed, almost 10 months since we’ve been together and almost 7 months since the divorce is final.
At first I felt it was all my fault, I must have just not done enough for years for things to have gone so wrong. Then again, I started to feel like I did everything I could and he did not.
But, you’re so insightful… this was and is about both people — communicating all the time (with honesty and about what we need), making deliberate and honest changes to help each other, and WANTING TO!.
I look forward to the day when I meet someone I’d like to spend a lot of time with, and/or eventually be with — and I can bring these lessons forward with me.
Patricia, it is amazing to me how different it is with my new partner…. he is willing… I am willing and when I catch myself repeating bad habits from the past… I apologize and work to correct them… it doesn’t mean we don’t have our moments… but in the nine years I’ve been with him, he has never fought unfairly… no cuss words… no “hitting below the belt” when you are getting into it with someone who takes the high road in arguments… it is easy to see your part in things immediately… (Laughing right now) and sometimes frustrating… ha! 🙂 D.
I have come full circle on this one blaming him, blaming me, being equal in blame. Now I am back to the beginning. I believe it takes two to make a marriage but one can end it. By that I mean that I spent a lot of time beating myself up about how perhaps I could have done it better in my marriage and then when I REALLY looked back with MY own eyes, I think not. I am proud of what I did and how I did it and could have done no more than what I did to make it the success that it was. It is his loss for making the choice for ending it.
I am glad that you have found someone to appreciate you for who you are.
Thank you Elizabeth… it was quite a bit of time before I accepted someone decent in my life… I had spent 20 years in dysfunction and that was what I was used to and what I looked for directly after my divorce! I had to step back and take time to be honest about my own co-dependency issues… how often I covered for my spouse… how I often I manipulated things so that he wouldn’t have to suffer the full consequences of his addiction… how often I chose to stay in the marriage instead of walking away to find something more healthy for me and my children. I liked playing the martyr… I liked being the strong long suffering wife… I liked that my spouse was always seen as the bad guy and I was the good guy… I really got something out of that for a long time. I also had to look at how I used to fight with my spouse… it was not healthy…. I was so caught up in the drama, the dysfunction, the passion that I would say ANYTHING in the heat of anger…. Once I was able to get some time under my belt and work things through with guidance and really search to see my part in things… that’s when my new partner popped up! Funny how that works… I still struggle with my own character defects at times but being with someone who compliments me instead of bringing out my shadow self makes all the difference.
I appreciated reading the comments by both of you.
We all really did do our best.
I agree with Elizabeth … So good to see you are in a healthy, loving relationship where you will continue to thrive.
I remember “covering” for my ex at times, making excuses, feeling embarrassed and missing many things I wanted to do and wished to a be a part of.
I know I had some faults and blame that led us to divorce after 22 years of marriage. I still feel he doesn’t think he did anything – he told me I wasn’t attentive enough. To myself and God, I’ve acknowledged the things I’ve done wrong or could have done better so I can improve with my next relationship. The thing that hurts the most that even though I wasn’t in marital bliss (I actually realized just how depressed and unhappy I was in our marriage once he left and I had a different point of view!!) I never ever thought the resolution to our problem was divorce. We were a great team together for the majority of our marriage – like 19 years by my count – and we resolved things together. Divorce was a resolution I never, ever expected. But that’s what I got so pardon me while I continue to make assorted flavors of lemonade!!! 🙂 🙂
Oh man Lisa… I get ya. Sometimes the other partner may never acknowledge their part in the break. Sometimes… it takes years before they are willing to admit it. You are reflecting on your part and spiritually figuring out how to move on in a positive manner. I have found my life today is much more authentic than my life back then… You would have spent so much time trying to live up to his expectation of “attentive” that you would have had to give up the right to be attentive to yourself and your own needs. Keep making that lemonade! It’s gonna be great. 🙂 D.
Yes w563 I keep hearing that it’s a toss up whether or not I get that acknowledgement from my ex. I have stopped needing that in order to move on with my life. That was one of the things keeping me stuck for a minute. And yes you are right, trying to fill that “attentive” black hole would have depleted me totally….especially since he most likely (never admitted to it though!!!) had a shiny, new young toy to play with. I am making that lemonade all the time……sometimes with rum, sometimes with strawberries, ahh the combinations are endless!!! I cannot thank you enough for these daily emails. Some days you are so on point I think you know me!! I’ve shared them with a few people and they love them also. Keep up the great work of helping us newly divorced babes find our way out of those scary woods!!!