I’m not a has-been. I’m a will-be. -- Lauren Bacall
Okay, here’s a shocker. Marriage can be rife with indifference, lack of interest, lack of concern, or just plain old apathy. There are about a hundred plus one reasons for us to leave our marriages every day.
There are times when marriage simply isn’t that clichéd fairy tale. Take yesterday, for instance. My husband was upset with me because I didn’t follow through on contacting a business for some work we needed done. Oh, I contacted them—by email. He’d asked me to phone them, however. To me, it’s the same difference. It became such a big deal that we didn’t speak to each other the rest of the evening. Supper was especially fun: there we sat at the candlelit dining room table, eating our manicotti and salad, and not talking.
These are the times when I wrestle every human instinct to pick up something and fling it. (If the manicotti hadn’t been covered in tomato sauce—which I’d inevitably have to clean up—I would have flung that!)
To be fair, there’s a lot of laughter and practical jokes, tickling and sex, friendship and companionship in marriage. But we already knew about that stuff when we married, right? It’s the other stuff—the dark, difficult, sometimes disastrous stuff—of marriage that makes us scratch our heads in bewilderment and think, Who is this person I married? Was there some cosmic switch after I said “I do”? I used to like this person. I used to like me with this person. Now I barely like either.
That side of marriage was a shocker for me. Scott and I had our first whopper argument on our honeymoon. As a former actress, I admit I’m a tad bit prone to the melodramatic. So, to give me credit, when I do things, I do them big. The blow came when I discovered my beloved husband (not an actor) had the ability to “go big” too. He could yell just as loud and pout with the same commitment—as though we were both competing for an Oscar.
While we survived the honeymoon, we both discovered that our marriage wasn’t going to be conflict free. (I’m still considering a class-action suit directed toward advertisers, romance novelists, Hollywood screenwriters, and anybody else who purposefully misled the public to believe that marriage was made of fairy tale dust.) marriage isn’t easy, but divorce is no picnic
Several years ago I was traveling with a freelance photographer who had just discovered his wife was sleeping with his best friend. Ugh-ly. During the entire trip my colleague was angry, devastated, and frustrated dealing with the what-ifs and the what-happeneds.
When we returned from the trip, he entered counseling right away, met with his pastor, prayed, fasted, and . . . changed. He did all the “right” things.
Still, she took up with a cowboy, became pregnant, and demanded a divorce.
He slid into depression, and his business suffered. For a while he was “homeless”—forced to move out of the home he’d shared with his wife and into his photography studio. Every time we met during this time he seemed thinner. While he still had his sense of humor, it was a little edgier; his eyes were a little less bright, his shoulders a little more slumped.
Divorce had taken its toll.
Since you’re reading this book, you probably already know the devastating, anguishing, heart-wrenchingly painful process of divorce. The fact is, except in cases of “starter marriages,” divorce isn’t the first choice a couple makes when their marriage hits the wall. Many times it’s the last resort for spouses who have dealt with the pain of a broken relationship until it just about breaks them.
The reasons for leaving a marriage don’t always have to be “big”: physical or emotional infidelity, abandonment, abuse, discovering your spouse has multiple mates throughout the country. Sometimes the “little” things grow into the bigger reasons: when you become upset because your husband won’t balance the checkbook and you’re overdrawn—again. Or you argue about how much television she watches and you’re ready to smash the blasted tube. Or you feel like his mama instead of his seductress. Or your spouse is a workaholic, and you seriously consider placing her computer on eBay. Or you’re stuck with being the Maid or the Babysitter while your spouse has stimulating, real (read: adult) interactions in the Outside World.
Individually, those relatively minor infractions, if left unchecked, begin to add up, until one day friends and neighbors hear of the breakup of your marriage and whisper, “We’re shocked! They appeared so happy. This came out of the blue.”
Yeah, right. Nothing about a divorce comes out of the blue.
Entire days, months, or worse, years go by when you feel life is unfair; when the thrill is gone, when the bedroom sees more action when you change the sheets than when you roll in them, when your spouse humiliates or ridicules you or withdraws and chooses the kids or Mom and Dad or work or golfing or shopping over you, when you feel as though your spouse doesn’t support and honor and respect you. And—the worst part—when through the course of these situations God seems deafeningly silent to your pleas and pain.
Really, all you want is to wake up from this dream called life and go back to some day far in the past when life seemed less complicated, right? You just want out. Or more devastatingly, your spouse just wants out.
My husband and I have been mentoring a young man who’s been married a little more than a year. His wife left him six weeks ago. She won’t return calls, she stopped going to her counseling appointments, and she stopped attending church. She refuses to have anything to do with him, except to tell him, “You’ll be hearing from my attorney about divorce proceedings.”
“Divorce!” he told us one evening. “It feels as though someone punches me in the stomach, lets me barely catch my breath, then punches me again.”
“I think one of the most difficult things about divorce is how much it changes your life,” Scott told me later that night. “You never realize how much you rely on the status quo until it isn’t there.”
No, divorce isn’t easy.