That is what came to mind when I read a comment to my first post to DivorcedMoms. The person was very polite and respectful. That person’s comment had me thinking when he or she stated, “I urge you to think about what divorce will mean for your wife. It may be the best course of action for you but, is it for her? I’m not saying that to sway you from making a choice that is right for you. I’m saying it because divorce will impact her as well as you and, like it or not, you have a responsibility to her and how your actions impact her future.”
Am I being selfish for choosing divorce over continuing the 29 year old marriage?
Am I being selfish if my decision hurts my wife?
These very important questions remind me of what Jennifer Weiner said in Fly Away Home, “Divorce isn’t such a tragedy. A tragedy’s staying in an unhappy marriage, teaching your children the wrong things about love. Nobody ever died of divorce.”
Yes; nobody ever died, but many a person has been hurt by it.
Canadian author Margaret Atwood said it best: “A divorce is like an amputation: you survive it, but there’s less of you.”
I feel that way right now, and it is still a few days away from my big announcement to my wife. My wife and I have talked about our relationship, but that is all that has been – just talk. Nothing really has changed. It is always some event on the calendar that must pass before we can resolve our differences and problems. “Once we get by those events, everything will be fine,” we always tell each other.
We have been kidding ourselves for years. I feel there is no way to resolve our problems in our marriage. It makes me unhappy, and at times, I am miserable.
My oldest son knows this is true as he told me, “Dad, you have been trying for years. You have changed who you are to accommodate Mom.”
He added that he has picked up on the clues for years that I have been unhappy trying to be someone I am really not. My 26 year old son is spot on.
I want to be happy.
So, what is selfish about me wanting to be happy?
“Sometimes you have to be selfish to be selfless.” ~Edward Albert, American film and television actor
If you want to call me ‘selfish’, you can. But, I know that one has to look out for him-or-herself before they can attend to their spouse. It does, indeed, sound selfish, but if I am not happy and not happy about myself, then there is no way that I can positively contribute to my marriage. It is not fair for one spouse to be miserable and dragging down the other spouse. How good can the marriage be?
Is it selfish to enjoy myself with the woman who is deeply in love with me?
I do not find it selfish to leave my current marriage, and to pursue happiness elsewhere. Somewhere there is a woman who is looking for me.
A former basketball star at UNC Chapel Hill and NBA Great said, “To be successful you have to be selfish, or else you never achieve. And once you get to your highest level, then you have to be unselfish. Stay reachable. Stay in touch. Don’t isolate.”
Michael Jordan is saying that for me to achieve happiness, I have to be selfish with my divorce decision. Once I achieve happiness, I have to be selfless. This means that once I marry that woman somewhere in my future, I need to be giving of myself to her.
As an online female friend and blogger concerning divorce eloquently stated earlier this year, “The grass isn’t greener on the other side. It’s greener where you water it.” I replied to her that if one’s watering bears no fruit, maybe it’s time to grow a new garden…with dedication. She retweeted my reply.
I have been watering, fertilizing and tending to my marriage for nearly three decades, but a change is in order. My garden is a good example. When I moved in to my house 27 years ago, I planted two dozen roses alongside my driveway. They thrived in the full sun. Pink flowers bloomed everywhere. The plants were very happy. My neighbor planted a pecan tree that is now forty feet tall. My roses were withering in all that shade.
After 24 years, change was in order. I dug up every single rose plant. It saddened me to do it, but it was necessary to find a plant that would be happy in the shade. Now, I have Turks Cap, a native of Texas. It is thriving in the shade, producing lots of beautiful red flowers and drawing hummingbirds to my yard.
The commenter I mentioned at the beginning is absolutely right that I have a responsibility to my wife and how my actions impact her future. This is why I will be upfront and mature about the situation. I will help her take over the utilities accounts, Netflix, etc. so that she can transition to her new life with the least amount of obstacles. The legwork has all been done by me. It is the least that I can do, especially since I am being selfish.
And for what we have accumulated through the years, she can have most of it. My feeling is that material goods do not bring happiness. It is being with a person you love in an atmosphere that is conducive to growth in oneself and with the relationship. Happiness follows thus there is no selfishness…just selfless love.