Love is a tricky little thing. It has a million layers. It’s not black and white. There are no hard and fast rules and it looks different for every person. I fell in love five years ago. I fell hard and I fell fast. Although we had a rocky start, I fully expected that eventually we’d ride off into the sunset together. I went into that relationship knowing the truth about love. I knew that love is not a cure all. I knew that love is an action, not just a feeling. I knew that love is a choice and marriage is hard.
I’d just come out of a bad marriage. I felt pretty grounded in the reality of love and marriage given both the failure of mine and the success of my parents. I had great examples of love and commitment growing up as I come from a long line of strong, faith-filled marriages. My parents have been married 33 years and my grandparents have been married 56. Divorce is not a common theme in my family; yet, it seems to be a familiar theme in my life.
I’m only 29 and in the middle of my second divorce. That’s embarrassing.
When I married my husband, I vowed to myself that I would never get divorced again. As such, I did absolutely everything I could to keep it on track, even though we were derailed before we even started. We are told by society, love songs and romantic movies, “All you need is love.” While it’s true that love covers a multitude of sins, and ultimately, I believe love wins in life, it is unfortunately not true that all you need is love.
Love cannot cure disease. It cannot heal the sick. It can’t mend broken bones. It doesn’t pay the bills. Love doesn’t share the housework. It doesn’t make you a good parent. It can’t stop someone from self destructing. It can’t unbreak a heart.
Love is not enough to take you to the end. Love is only the beginning.
My relationship with my husband was always unhealthy. It was birthed in pain and its death has created even more pain. But people we don’t love can’t hurt us. That’s why divorce is so excruciating. Because even when it’s the healthier choice to end a marriage, wrapped up in that dysfunction is love, and peeling apart the tangled hearts is painful.
I am not an advocate of divorce. Nothing about divorce is pretty. It wrecks everything. But what I eventually had to accept in my marriage is that an unhealthy relationship wrecks you just as much, if not more, than a divorce. If there are children involved, the decision to end a marriage is even more devastating because the effects of it trickle through you and into the lives of your children forever.
Despite the inevitable impact divorce will have on you and your children’s lives, I firmly believe it is better to come from a broken home than to live in one. I learned the hard way that love is not enough, and it is not a reason to stay in a relationship. At this point, one year after separating from my husband and the finalization of our divorce on the horizon; I am still learning that love is not enough.
Saying you’re “in love” with someone you’re divorcing is about as tricky as the concept of love itself. I would not say that I am “in love” with my husband at this point. It’s hard to be in love with someone who hurts you so much. But I do know that I “have love” for him, and I think a part of me always will. After all, he is the father of my babies. There’s no way to fully hate someone who gave you such a gift.
At the same time, hate and love reside scarily close to each other. Hate and love are the extreme emotions birthed out of passion. I don’t believe you can hate someone who you don’t also love. And that is what makes divorce so painful.
You’re trying to balance all the love you had for this person at one point, with all the hate you now have for whatever lead to the downfall of your marriage. While you’re balancing that, you’re also trying to forgive and let go while your heart is still wrapped around someone else’s. Throw in the emotions connected to your children’s hearts and the pain likely being inflicted on them, and you’ve got a tricky situation on your hands.
For me, the decision to separate from my husband was made out of a place of such a depth of love that I was drowning. I had to get out in order to survive. My initial prayer was that separating would give us both the chance to catch our breath so that we could dive back in together. What my husband made blatantly clear was that he had no intentions of diving into anything but himself.
The dynamics of our relationship were unhealthy from the beginning, and though I gave it my all, I just was never able to rectify that. A marriage takes two people. Ideally, two healthy people. But if one is sick and unwilling to do anything to heal that sickness, the marriage inevitably dies. It’s like trying to ride a bicycle with one flat tire. It just isn’t going to work.
Just because a marriage dies does not mean the love does. But just because the love doesn’t die, does not mean the marriage shouldn’t. Letting go of someone you love is devastating. It’s like a death. But I have learned that my love is not enough to sustain the life of another soul. My love for my husband has changed a lot over the years, but it isn’t gone. It’ll never be completely gone. That man held my whole heart in his hands, and though he didn’t cherish it the way he was supposed to, he will always have little pieces of it. But he doesn’t deserve all of it. He never did.
Love isn’t supposed to be painful. Hard, yes. Painful, no. Our love was devastating. It left me breathless. Confused. Hurting.
Part of what has made my journey to healing so difficult is that despite all the damage and pain, despite all the lies and manipulative games, my heart still belonged to him. My love for him was built on unhealthy ground though; and when the foundation is weak, the whole house crumbles. No amount of fixing the walls and painting over the holes was going to change the cracked foundation we stood on.
I had to get out from under that crumbling house and build my own. I stand here today with love still pulsing through my body for a man I never should have given my heart to. And it hurts. But I am finally learning to accept that staying in an unhealthy relationship, waiting for the person to become something else is unfair to everyone. And it isn’t what healthy love looks like.
Love is not enough to take you to the end, because it’s only the beginning.
- Falling Out Of Love
- My Failed Marriage: Was It Worth it?
- When Love Ends In The Courtroom: The Pain of Divorce
- A First Date For A Divorced Mom Who Still Loves Her Ex
photo credit: Love in the Sand via photopin (license)
This a beautiful and exactly the way I am feeling about my impending divorce. Thank you for sharing such a painful experience. It helps me to know that I am on the right path.
Could not have written this better myself. It describes how I feel about my failed marriage perfectly. It helps so much to validate my feelings and to know that I am not the only one who made the RIGHT decision to walk away from an unhealthy relationship even though my heart very much still belonged to him.
Renata Jeffers says
I cannot tell u enough how much ur story inspired me. I left after 7 years with our 5 year old son, but still hurt so very much. thank u for ur story. trully.
Your words made me feel so comforted in that I am not the only one who feels this way. You explained this complicated scenario so well.. To love someone and still have ties to them for the rest of your life even though you must separate and know you should not be together. Thank you for sharing this and keeping me stronger as I continue on this difficult but necessary path.
I’m getting a divorce after 19 years of marriage. He had an affair and I don’t think I will ever forgive him – he wanted to marry her, start a life with her, all of these things he shared with me- he wanted with her. I loved this man, still do, and I’m trying so hard to balance the hate and the love I feel for him. You described it perfectly…
I’m so sorry. My husband filed after 20 yrs of marriage. I didn’t see it coming. It’s hard to believe they could stop loving us after being married for so long. I was happy. I didn’t think we fought. He has this completely different memory of the last few years…but none of it makes sense to me. It’s like we were in two different marriages.
Christopher Law says
A wonderful article. The hard part for me is realising that when you talk of your husband, you could be my wife talking about me. I know that in my situation that my current course was determined by my actions but I am crazy about her. I would like, in fact I would love to change who I am to stay with her. I try to think of all the bad she did to me but when that happens I end up thinking about all the good memories and I feel destroyed but destroyed by my own failings.
My situation mirrors yours in many ways.. time frames and dates.. feelings and thoughts.
This has been the hardest thingI have been through. I feel totally powerless but I have to extricate myself from a man who does not contribute to his marriage. My heart is his but i will only grow more despairing and lonely if i stay with him. Still.. i hate that my brief marriage has failed.
How are you doing today? I’m going through this now….
My husband and I love one another so deeply. A love so deep, it’s the most beautiful feeling ever. He has an addiction problem and can’t seem to overcome the battle of addiction. His addiction has lead him to infidelity, alcohol, and drug abuse. Our home is crumbling before me. I have begun the divorce process and it’s so hard because of the amount of love I have for him. Why do I love him after all of this? Because when he is sober he is the most amazing husband and father. He is such a good soul. And I see addiction as the devil. All bad decisions have been made under the influence of a substance. I filed for divorce because I am living an unhealthy lifestyle. We have a 9 month old that I need to protect from growing up in a bad environment. I cry everyday nonstop wishing things would be different. I pray everyday asking God to remove the addition from my husband and help heal me. In my case it makes complete sense that love is not enough to fix things back to how they were. Love can’t stop the lies, cheating, alcohol, and drug abuse. Love isn’t enough. I have always told myself from the very beginning that a marriage isn’t a marriage without trust and respect. I realize now that we never had those two important factors from the beginning of our relationship.
if you want him back and want him to stop cheating and lying you shoud meet with Dr cliver
Walk away. The reason my husband and I ended up in the marriage we ended up in is because of what we grew up in. The reason my husband is the way he is is because his mother captain addict around for 35 years and she still keeps him, even though she found out heff touched her daughters, on top of all the other abuse they all endured. I am my husband 4th wife. He refuses to see is issues. I have no choice but to face my now as if I did not have any I would not have married the man I did. I too grew up in unhealthy home. My husband and I are going to be divorcing. I will tell you this, if you truly love your children, protect them. You may damage them forever. My husband will never be healthy, none of his siblings are either. One more thing, Child protective services me take your children away from you if you don’t protect them, then they will. You’re going to have to choose him or your children. It’s obvious right now you don’t love yourself too much. I know because I also have not been loving myself for years. I hate myself now for choosing to love the person I did and have a family with him. But in time I know I will heal and I know I will have the time plenty of it to sort out my own emotions. The time that I am not guaranteed is my children’s future. Those days are limited. Children deserve to be given the best. Can’t give our spouses are best at the cost of our children’s well being and even our own health. Sooner or later that decision has to be made. This easier on the children the sooner you do it. The longer I stay the more you are damaging them and then more difficult you are making it on yourself. Start saving your money and start looking for resources, make sure you’re getting yourself some counseling. You do not want to lose your children because of this. If he wants to he can always decide to get clean and become healthy. But you should not have to wait around for that, especially not your children. It is your duty and obligation to protect them, If you do not do it someone else will. Ask yourself if you can live w that?
This is so perfectly written for how I’m feeling right now. Thank you so much.
Thank you for writing this. It was so helpful to read, with where I am in my marriage. Thank you for your bravery in putting this out there. So very appreciated.
Needed this. I literally googled “divorcing someone you still love”.
I just knew I couldn’t be alone. Thank you for sharing.