My husband of 28 years told me he no longer wished to be married to me. It’s not “you” it’s “me” were his exact words.
To say I was blindsided would be an understatement. I keep replaying his words in my mind and I just can’t make sense of it all.
We were happy – or so I thought. After 28 years together we had a beautiful life. Wonderful kids who were well on their way to adulthood and it was finally time for us to get back to – well us.
But apparently that was not in his plan.
He had been waiting to leave he told me. Not happy for years but didn’t want to shake up the kids and our family unit. Years? How is that even possible? I know I was focussed on my career and my children but he was a major priority in my life and I worked hard at our relationship. I know he was happy despite his words, however I couldn’t understand why he was trying to hurt me. He was so strong in his convictions and so matter of fact in his words that I knew there was more to his story.
The kids left for university and a week later he moved out.
Buried in grief, my friends and family tried to console me. “You’ll be better off”, “He must have a girlfriend – no one ever leaves unless they have someone else waiting” and “He was always an ass” were the kind, reassuring words I heard. But I didn’t feel that way. I felt betrayed and hurt and couldn’t find any logic to what was happening. I knew that in order for me to have a life after my divorce I would need some closure. I needed to understand what went wrong and how I missed the collapse of my relationship.
I urged him to go into therapy with me. He told me there was no point – he wasn’t coming back and the relationship was over. But I begged. I felt he owed it to me – so that I could grow from this experience and have an understanding of where I went wrong. I kept the focus on me and my needs and told him that this was an opportunity for me to understand myself better. Shockingly he agreed.
We went to a marriage therapist and it was a crazy process. I heard things about myself and our relationship that I couldn’t believe. I had never considered how my words and actions had affected him – to be honest I never really thought he cared about the little issues. His perceptions were so off but what I did learn was that perception is reality. Although I didn’t see it that way – he did. The truth was that we were so out of sync on so many issues that he was smart to have ended the marriage. I just couldn’t see it and was so focussed on my “family” that I never considered my own individual needs or my husbands in many situations. It was a tough process but one that I was grateful to have gone through as it did give me clarity and understanding.
In the end, we didn’t get back together. I am sad that we couldn’t salvage our relationship and wished that we had had better communication during our marriage. However the truth is that I probably would never have owned my part at that time.
So at 56, I am ready to create a new life for myself after my divorce. I am not sure how I am going to do this but if I have learnt anything from this process it is to take one day at a time! I will have a life after my divorce because I choose to. I am the master of my own destiny and I am not saying it will be easy – but I am determined to make it!
Randy, That is so well written. You are clearly an evolved woman. For someone to admit where they could have done things differently, is highly unusual. We seem to live in a world of blame. Cudo’s to you and good luck in waking up every day and seeing opportunity to grow.
Karyn Fine, http://www.karynfine.com
Randy.. this happened to me when my kids were very young. My husband totally blindsighted me, and I was in total shock. He was having an affair. He didn’t just leave me but he left my children as well. I had to raise my girls on my own. It is amazing how strong we become when we have to. There is life after divorce.. I promise you that. It is not unusual for a woman to put her family first and try and piece things together. However your partner has to want that as well. It takes two. You deserve someone in your life that gives back to you. Your feelings and needs are important., don’t ever forget that. Best of luck..
I say celebrate 28 years as a huge accomplishment and move forward with grace and love in your heart. It’s a journey. You’re just warming up baby!!
It is so difficult I guess at this stage of life to start over. 53 years old, the children have grown and you find yourself starting over…
I commend you! This is not an easy transition.
Your article resonated with me. I am a man who provided for my family, a wife of 13 years and two wonderful children aged 10 and 5. I was the provider, the giver of all things, and I communicated all of my needs and desires. I planned our finances, our vacations and so on. In the early years I tried my best to involve her but as the years went by she just turned those involving conversations back on me ‘whatever you want to do’ she would say. I was blindsided in February of this year. Nothing led me to believe that she was unhappy. My world was destroyed. She blamed it all on me, that my personality was stronger than hers, that I was controlling. Man oh man, the things she says now about the ‘things I said’ or the ‘things I did to her’. I don’t recall one fight or arguement in the relationship. I’ve come to know that we are two different people and I didn’t know who she was but she apparently had a good idea of who I was. It was sad and is sad. We add to the statistic of reason for divorce being communication breakdown. Thanks for sharing.
I am looking for soul mate
You would be amazed at the similarities we share. Even the 28 years of marriage. In my case, i was blind-sided but some others said they weren’t as surprised. I did notice some change in my wife a couple of years ago. We talked and I tried to change with her. I figured it was a phase and at some point she would realize this. Still, I figured of all the people we knew, we would be the last who would end up this way. In January, she just said she needed space. I figured it would be a day or so. She never came back. The kids turned on her for a while. There is still some animosity there. Nobody seems to understand why she wanted out. I still have the kids, who are all grown, living with me. She was the “breadwinner”. We both worked but her job did pay a lot more than mine. She had started to hang with some new rich friends, a few of whom were single. Perhaps that’s what she wanted. Anyway, after a few months of feel run over, I’m coming around. Right now, I tell myself we had 25 years of good marriage. It’s scary looking ahead but there are days when it seems a bit exciting too. I’m not ready to date yet. Maybe that will come. But I’m definitely doing a hell of a lot better now that I was six months ago. And given that I walked on egg shells for the last two years of the marriage, maybe I’m better now than I was then too.
This is not as uncommon as you might think. And there isn’t always another person in the picture. There is a great book called “Coming Apart” by Daphne Kingma that takes a sociologist’s view to how relationship end. With exceptions, the split tends to follow a pattern that repeats. This book is very insightful. Again, not always, but there tends to be a “leaver” and a “left.” It all starts with a secret. The leaver at some point wants out and starts to think about life apart from the left. The leaver tries or thinks they are trying to tell the left that things are right. Signs are missed, cues not picked up on. The left wants things to go back to normal but that’s not the direction the leaver wants to go. Something feels off for the leaver and eventually they come out with it. Since this often takes years the leaver is much further down the road emotionally than the left in terms of processing the split. In their heads they left long ago. The left one feels blind sided although the clues are there just not seen. With exceptions, there is usually no going back. Once they go public the split picks up momentum that is hard to stop. Therapy usually doesn’t help, as couples wait six years too long to go and the damage is done. The leaver has already left in their head. The only course for the left is to realize they will have to forge a new life on their own terms.
Sounds about right. I’ve been grieving over our loss of intimacy for years hoping to have more than a transactional relationship again, but I think I’m finally ready to move on. Just waiting for our daughter to go off to college. Will my wife be shocked and surprised? I hope not, but she hasn’t been listening for years, so….
Wow this is depressing. I will never get married again. There is simply nothing in it for men. I am single now after 31 years of marriage and dating younger, hotter women and it is awesome! What was I thinking 30+ years ago?