Has marriage and divorce devolved to being just pieces of paper? Legal declarations of our acceptance or rejection of another person? It certainly feels like it lately.
I just spent a wonderful, yet confusing, week with Husband #2. I’ll admit that the time leading up to his arrival had me sad, melancholy, apprehensive, anxious, and questioning. Our last face to face contact took place three months prior…well, 109 days prior if you want to be precise.
He left on a high note, ready and willing to start the new, better, Déjà Vow-less life of freedom and singleness 700 miles away. Life looked good! Things would be better! Family and marital obligations cast aside! Divorce would set him free!
Unfortunately for Husband #2, his illusions of the future quickly faded as stark reality set it. The life he hoped for didn’t materialize. The job he counted on didn’t open up. The struggles might not have been the same, but struggles still occurred. The man who left in March was coming home, not to stay, but to fulfill a work obligation and get another load of his things.
During his time away, I have been quietly working on myself. I made a pact with my hurt heart not to pursue a man who wanted to leave. To say our contact was minimal would be generous. Only over the past few weeks have we exchanged anything of real substance. I found out that he checked on my Facebook status…but to my credit, I don’t post anything of a personal nature. I usually throw up a few funnies, an inspirational meme or two, and a photo from one of my favorite sites. Very little to see of the new me or our home life.
I wasn’t sure who would show up on my step after a long day of driving.
The man who appeared reminded me of Husband #2 of old. Here was a man who was happy to see me, couldn’t wait to hug and kiss me, and who noticed that I had curled my hair. Oh yeah, I lost those 40 pounds too. He noticed that, especially while we were naked. What can I say? I still love Husband #2. And surprisingly, he’s not shy about saying he still loves me.
We talked about many things. We drank wine. We ate great meals. We spent time together almost the entire week. This was the way we used to be when we first started out.
And through it all, Husband #2 kept insisting we needed to get divorced so we could start fresh. The idea in his head, pushing him forward, came off like a slash and burn excursion. All has to be destroyed before it can be resurrected. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes. Divorce is just a piece of paper that frees us from that other piece of paper…the marriage.
Marriage has now become a legal thing, meaning nothing more than this person gets to visit me in the ICU if I succumb to a serious illness or accident. Divorce just ends that right and being separated into two entities in the eyes of the government isn’t that bad of a deal, right?
But for me it’s different. Marrying a person is my way of saying, out of all the people in the world, this is the one who I want to spend my time with. This is the one who I commit myself to. This is the one who I will go down in flames with if we get sued. I stand by this person, not because I want to…because I choose to be bound to them. Marriage is the ultimate way of saying, I accept you.
To get divorced is not just a piece of paper to me. It’s deeper than that. It’s the tearing, the dividing. It is the ultimate way of saying, I reject you. And that rejection gets filed at the county court house, recorded for perpetuity, and open for the public to see. It’s humiliation at a public level.
While Husband #2 is looking to demolish the marriage house, I’m looking to strip it down to the studs and renovate it. Our new relationship skills will be the wiring, the HVAC, the plumbing, and the mortar that repairs our foundation. But like some grand mansions of yesteryear, ours is not to be saved.
With his decision to move forward with a divorce, I’ve drawn my own line in the sand. I have cut all contact with him. My heart needs time to heal and I can’t do it with happy weeks spent in Husband #2’s company every once in a while and the looming cloud of divorce hanging over me.
I hope divorce is all that you wish it to be, Husband #2.