“What happens if I go through this whole divorce process and end up two years from now thinking that I’ve made a huge mistake?”
The Roofer sat across from me as we shared a platter of sushi. I invited him to my home to give me his opinion on the roof repairs and some other renovation items I’ve had on the back burner. In exchange, I offered to treat him to dinner.
We were involved in an intensely honest conversation about our pending divorces and relationship implosions. He told me about his wife, their problems dealing with a wayward child, the challenges of self-employment, and bouts of infidelity (on her part).
“I can’t help it. I feel like I’ll look back in a few years and wonder why I left my wife. And it will be too late for me because she will have moved on.”
I nodded sympathetically. He is the leaver. I’m on the other side of the equation – the leavee. He had a valid point. Leavee’s eventually move on…
I finally grasp the full concept Dan Gilbert shares in his TED Talk. Yes, having no choice in the matter means I’ll be the happier one. Leavee’s have very little say in the demise of the marriage. We hit rock bottom and the only way we can go is up.
I still miss Husband #2 but it was his choice to move away, his choice to keep us separated, his choice to keep himself in a different part of the country over 700 miles away. He made the decision. It was dropped into my lap without any input from me. All I can do is find a way to be happy and move on without him.
Being happy is my only choice. I don’t have to decide whether or not to leave him, Husband #2 is already gone.
I understood the Roofer’s doubts. He has more choices than his soon-to-be ex-wife has in the break-up. Because he has a number of options, it is possible for him to choose the “wrong” one. He has to live with the lingering doubts that fill his mind. He faces many futures, and they haunt him. What if he ends up regretting his decision?
As to the wife’s moving on part, it’s a very real risk, one that is much higher than he probably realizes. Pining for a lost love gets old, the nights get lonely, and eventually someone comes along and fills the gap. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it will happen. I gave him the inside track on what happens when you’re left: the introspection, the self-improvement work, the changing behaviors.
Divorce is like that big giant iron door that comes down and effectively cuts the connection between two people. No matter how amicable the divorce, there is a point where there is no longer an “us”. Now there’s just a “you” and a “me” and “we” no longer exist. The fewer the lasting bonds between you (ie. kids), the more permanent the iron door.
And for those of you following along, there’s nothing going on romantically between the Roofer and me. He’s involved with someone else, which means I’m spared the dangers of a rebound relationship (his or mine, take your pick). I don’t have to break out the granny panties or hold back on my natural friendliness and feminine wiles. 2015 is the year of fulfillment, not the year of starting up something new. I’m still percolating.
At the end of the evening, he gave me a long hug and said something extremely sweet (and very ego-stroking), “With your looks and your personality, you won’t be single for very long. There’s no reason for you to think you’ll die alone.”
Like I said, it was a very open conversation that ended up lasting 5 hours. It was good for me to have a talk with someone of the opposite sex and the opposite side of the leaving situation.
Now I have a new friend who likes sushi.