It has been 32 years and I still remember it like it was yesterday.
I know my ex-husband doesn’t remember it. For me though, I’ll never forgot it, and I never got over it. As far as I was concerned, those few words were the grounds for our divorce five years later.
Joe and I met and married on the two-month anniversary of our first, blind date. It was a crazy thing to do. We were old enough to know better, but we thought it would work out anyway. It might have, but exactly nine months and two days after our wedding, we had premature boy/girl twins. I quit work to stay home with the babies and Joe continued teaching at the community college near where we lived.
To say it was rough is an understatement. It was a horrible winter, a difficult short marriage, and I didn’t have a clue about taking care of two tiny babies. My mother flew in from California to help. After six weeks, she was exhausted to say the least, and left as fast as she could get a plane back home. Even though I had a husband, that left me to take care of the babies pretty much by myself.
Jay and Emily only weighed four and a half pounds when they came home from the hospital and had to be fed every couple of hours around the clock. All day and night I was up every two hours feeding and changing diapers. I had to write down who I fed and how much, because sometimes in the night I got confused and didn’t know who I fed last! Days and nights didn’t matter and I didn’t know one day or night from another.
Finally, physically and mentally exhausted, I asked Joe if he could please help me with the babies during the night. He said, “I can’t. I have to sleep. I have to get up and go to work in the morning
I was absolutely speechless! What the hell did he think I did all day? Work? He didn’t know the meaning of work. I vowed then and there that as soon as the kids went to kindergarten I would leave Joe and file for divorce. And I did.
Two years later, I remarried. I thought this was a marriage made in heaven. I was madly in love with Don and was sure God brought us together. Don loved my seven-year old children and they loved him. Everything was perfect – I thought. Little did I know Don was pathologically selfish and was a classic, text-book narcissistic. There were other issues, of course, but they all began with his narcissism.
Around the time I turned 40-years old, I decided to see a counselor to deal with some unresolved issues from childhood. I had never talked to anyone about this and I waited to tell Don until I felt a little more sure of myself. When we went out of town for a long weekend for our second anniversary, I felt this would be a good time to bare my soul
I told Don I was seeing a psychologist and why. It was the most difficult thing I had ever done. Saying the words was extremely painful, but I trusted him. After all, he was my friend as well as my husband. I expected him to comfort me and tell me I was doing the brave, right thing. He did not. To my complete devastation, Don just looked at me as if I had slapped him. He said, “Why are you telling me this? Why are you doing this to me?”
Again, just like with Joe, I was speechless! I didn’t do anything to Don! I started to cry. He kept repeating, “Why are you doing this to me?” I cried all night long. Just as before, I knew at that moment my marriage was over. I tried to stick with it, but after nine years of marriage to a narcissistic snake, I left him and filed for divorce. I traced the origin of our major problems back to that one moment in time when my friend/husband ignored my pain and thought I did something to him.
Remember the old movie, Phenomenon with John Travolta? If you haven’t seen it, you need to. John Travolta acquires super-intelligent powers after being “struck” by a meteor. He is madly in love with a woman (Kyra Sedgwick) who makes chairs out of sticks and twigs. They are a work of art and beautiful, but no one likes them and no one buys them except John Travolta. He loves this woman with all his heart and does everything he can think of to get her to love him back including secretly buying her chairs.
Later, when John Travolta is really sick and about to die, his doctor, Robert Duvall, asks another man who is having marriage problems, if he has ever bought his wife’s chairs. The man thinks Robert Duvall is crazy because his wife does not have chairs for sale. Robert Duvall explains to the man that every woman has something of great value that a man has to purchase to prove he loves her unconditionally. He goes on to explain that John Travolta loves a woman so much that he buys her chairs. Robert Duvall tells the husband that if he wants to get his wife back, he has to buy her “chairs,” or whatever it is that is important to her.
This is one of the most moving and insightful movie scenes I have ever seen. It is one of the best explanations of true love I have ever heard. Neither of my husbands bought the chairs I had for sale. When they refused to buy my chairs, I knew divorce was inevitable. You got divorced for the same reason: your husband did not buy your chairs either.
It is not the “chairs,” of course that matter; it is a question of value and respect. Our husbands, mine and yours, did not value who we are and did not respect what is important to us. When what feeds your soul does not matter, divorce is inevitable.
It may take a long time, but when you find a man who buys your chairs without reservation or question and doesn’t even ask the price, then it is time to remarry.