A common perception of women who leave a husband is that she did so “for another man.” It happens. Sometimes, for any number of reasons right or wrong, a wife will walk away from her marriage and into the arms of another. I am a member of the club of women who initiate 70% of divorces, and when I did so, my ex did question whether my intention was to leave him for “someone else”?
I say that I initiated the divorce in the sense that I was the one who first contacted a lawyer and started the heavy discussions about the state of our marriage. I was the first to spend my days in tears mourning the condition of our relationship, the first to suggest counseling, and the first to become conscious to the fact that something drastic had to change to avoid divorce.
I will also contend that although I flipped the switch to set the wheels of divorce (and every effort to save our marriage) in motion, he initiated the necessity for divorce through his longstanding actions.
My divorce didn’t become a reality simply because I decided the marriage was broken and I was done with it, it was the result of several years of being ignored, made to feel completely insignificant, and expected to do everything for him, the kids, and our home while he lounged in front of the TV.
I am part of another club of women. I am also a card-carrying member of the legion of women who work outside the home, raise children, and will initiate divorce in a reported 97% of the time when her husband makes a “minimum contribution” toward childcare or housework.
My decision to pursue divorce wasn’t out of boredom, unwillingness to tackle our dysfunction head-on, or lack of desire to maintain an intact home for my children.
Although I have since remarried, I did not leave my ex-husband for another man. I left him for and because of the man he was, and I left him for myself!
I suffered through “for the kids”, I begged and pleaded for him to snap out of his self-involved fog of putting in his 40 hours at work, then tuning out from reality after he got home. I tried to sympathize with fatigue at the end of the day, his personal need for peace and to pursue his individual interests; but, I was a woman, a wife, and a mother experiencing those same feelings. I, too, needed a break, a laugh, a diversion from the grind, and someone to take care of me; but, I also felt it was unfair to me and our kids to perpetually sit on his back burner until whatever time he might decide we were worth his time or attention.
For years, I tried to talk myself into believing this was typical and to be expected, that the spark of new love inevitably fizzles, and that I should just be grateful that he wasn’t beating me. I don’t know that he was cheating on me (with anyone other than his porn addiction), but he did love to rub in my face that women at work propositioned him “all the time” and he had ample opportunity to have whatever fun he chose.
I could go on, and trust me that by the end of our marriage it becomes much darker, more disgusting, and to me a “no-brainer” that I had to get this man out of my life.
If this was a man or a marriage worthy of saving by the time we crumbled apart, you can believe I would still be in it giving my all to make it work! The thing- that thing that a large number of us in the 70% club, and probably all of us in the 97% club know- is that we as women, as mothers, and as human beings do not have to take this!
We deserve better than to simply live as someone’s maid and piece of meat! We deserve to be treated with love and respect and to have a partner who wants to talk to us and spend time with us! We deserve to not be lied to, manipulated, and humiliated in front of everyone we know! We deserve the opportunity to be treated like an equal and to share in the responsibilities of a partnership equally!
And, the kicker that really put it over the edge for me…so very necessary because there were moments when my desire to go on living, my level of self-worth, and my “give-a-damn” were so low… is that my children deserved a mother who could be a whole person! If I could be a whole person, I could also be the best mother possible to them! I could model for them how they should treat a partner and what treatment they should be willing to accept from a partner! I could give them the childhood environment they deserved away from conflict and continual tears!
No “other man” was necessary to lure me away from the train wreck that was my marriage! I had all the incentive to leave in the form of the husband before me who no longer cared about anyone but himself. The attraction I felt wasn’t to another relationship (and possibly another set of new and maybe even worse problems), it was to the hope I reached out for that inspired me to believe I could have happiness in my life, that I could feel a reason to want to live again, and that I could be the woman and mother I wanted to be!
The person at the finish line of my marriage who I needed most to fall in love with and live happily ever after with was me!
Marriage is valuable and should be a beautiful union of two individuals who desire to blend their lives together- forever. I did not have that; but, come hell or high water, I had myself! I had myself to take care of, myself to rescue, and myself to face every morning in the mirror and answer to. No man and no arrangement is worth sacrificing one’s dignity to the point of spiraling down to the depths of not caring about anything more and just counting the minutes until each day is done.
I found it necessary to break up with a man because I finally recognized that my worth and my life outweighed what he brought (in reality, took away) from my life. I also realized that I had to be strong on my own and love myself enough again before I could introduce another man to my life. Eventually one man took the place of another, but that was only possible because I took the opportunity wrapped in the ugly package of a divorce and used it to become whole again.
That’s right- brokenness made me whole again!