Memories: How Do You Hold Onto Them After Your Marriage Ends?
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May 04, 2015 - Updated May 06, 2015


There is very little I miss about my marriage. That probably sounds a little harsh. It may even be a little harsh, and perhaps in ten years time I will be able to look back and remember moments and experiences linked to my relationship with my ex-husband with something other than cynicism. Unfortunately, when you find out your life is not what you believed it to be, you tend to second guess your memories 

I wondered, did the things I cherished about our family life mean the same thing to him? It’s hard to know. And if they didn’t, does that change their value for me? Could parts of it have been a sham, and other parts remain pure in what they were? It made me question everything.

That used to be brutally difficult. That was hard when I was trying to accept the FACT of what was happening. When I couldn’t believe it. When trying not to believe it was my full time job. Over the course of a year, I saw our future destroyed and our past dismantled, cheapened, invalidated.

I felt like such an idiot.

I don’t feel that way anymore. I don’t feel pain when I think of those things- those memories of us as a couple. I feel removed from it. It isn’t hard to remember what I thought my marriage was, and it isn’t hard to think about what I now know to be the truth. Eventually you realize that mourning something fictional is not time well spent. Eventually, you lay down that anger and hurt simply because they are too heavy to carry around every day.

What I do struggle with are our family memories and traditions. What I do miss, keenly, is having someone else who shares all of those memories of the kids. The one person who knows the stories, and gets all the references, is gone. To reminisce about those things with him feels disingenuous. One of the kids will say or do something, and I can no longer lock eyes with the one other person on the planet who gets why something is funny, or maddening or sentimental. I feel that loss deeply. I mourn that as though it were a death.

Maybe it was.

I was driving in the car the other day and flipping through the radio stations. I came upon what must be an oldies station, and they were playing the song my ex-husband and I used to sing to our daughter every night at bedtime when she was little. We each had our parts. She loved it so much.

I caught myself smiling at the memory, and then felt my throat constrict and my eyes start to sting.

I honestly don’t know if that will ever go away.

It’s not about wishing we were still married. I don’t.

My boyfriend has a photo of him with his ex-wife and their two sons hanging on the wall in his house. I'm glad.  I want it to stay exactly where it is.  It is a part of the history of their family.  After my divorce I put away all of the family photos with my ex-husband in them.  They just caused me too much pain.  I put a few in my daughter's room. I know my son has some.  The rest are still in their frames, in a box yet unpacked even two years later.  Eventually, I hope to get to a place where I can hang one back up- to honor my children's past.

Those memories, the ones that are created in the little cocoon of your nuclear family, feel harder to hold onto when you no longer share them with anyone. They feel farther away.

Those memories become more ephemeral, and are tinged- even the happiest ones- with a little sadness.

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