The vows we make when entering into marriage are most commonly along these lines:
“Will you have this woman/man to be your wife/husband, to live together in holy marriage? Will you love her/him, comfort her/him, honor, and keep her/him in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to her/him as long as you both shall live?” (Traditional Methodist vows as seen on theknot.com)
As my marriage was clearly coming to an end, and as I embarked on a new life without someone who was going to “love, comfort and honor as long as I shall live,” I thought about what these vows really meant in the day-to-day of my relationship. I knew the vows I had were broken. I knew I was not faithful. We were no longer living as husband and wife. We had often alluded to the fact that it was over. We were not seeking any additional therapy or counsel. His years of substance abuse had nearly cost us everything. He had lost jobs, cars, and almost killed himself and someone else. During the worst of his abuse I am also fairly certain there were indiscretions. Nights when he didn’t answer the phone or didn’t come home became my norm. However, because we were not divorced, nor had we made any definite plans to get a divorce, I will always consider my relationship with 40 an affair. I will carry that guilt with me for the rest of my life. The beautiful babies we made were my reason for staying longer than I should have.
I held it together as best I could and as long as I could because I did not want my children to come from a “broken” home. Although my spouse was not always his best self and was really just a shell of the man I married for a good portion of our marriage… he was still their father and he did the best he could to protect them from his bad habits. I shielded them as well, and kept my babies safe and loved until he could be healthy enough to do the same. Thankfully, he has found sobriety and is living a life I hoped he would live while we were together. Sadly, it was a case of too little too late for us. I had fallen in love with someone else and it wasn’t until we were no longer together that he found the strength to get sober. If my saying enough is enough and finally making the choice to leave meant he found a healthy life free of substance, I consider our marriage a success. I do think it was the realization that he was losing everything that made him look at his life with eyes wide open for the first time in a long time.
The vows we made were shattered. I have often wondered, living life post marriage, why it is that the vow I broke is often perceived as the greater sin. I wonder why it is not equally reprehensible to no longer love and cherish. Maybe if there had been more loving and cherishing… not just of me but of himself… things would have been different. Maybe if I had kept him in sickness and not reached my breaking point he would have found sobriety in time to repair the hurt. Unfortunately, because of the selfish nature of addiction, he was unable to provide comfort or support. The majority of our life focused around his needs and his desires.
I do not condone my actions. I am not seeking justification. I will say that until I am blue in the face and mean it with my whole heart. I know I could have handled the end of my marriage differently. I know the right thing to do would have been to file for divorce long before it was even possible for me to fall in love with someone else. I know it should have been different. But it wasn’t. I am working on forgiveness now. I am working to forgive my ex. I am working to forgive myself. I am working on my relationship with God.
I do not regret my marriage ending at times because I know it has led him to sobriety. He is healing now. We both miss the life that could have been but know it was better for our mental and physical health, as well as the happiness of our children, to work as co-parents who respect one another but sadly cannot be husband and wife. I know there are those who think it is always best to stay for the kids; and that there is always more that could be done to save a marriage. I applaud these people for sticking to their convictions and hope they are never faced with some of the struggles of my marriage.
I did not enter into marriage thinking we would break our promises to one another. Looking back I should have seen the signs. All I can do now is remember that in the future, if I ever take those vows again, I will do so knowing it is work. Incredibly hard work. The hardest work you will ever do. I will seek a partner in life and in love that will take these vows with me in hopes we can do better and learn from the past. I will seek someone to love, honor and comfort, in sickness and in health. I will know unfaithfulness is not an option. I strive to show my children what true marital love is like. I want the example they see to be a healthy, mutually respectful representation of marriage. If given the opportunity for a second chance I will do my best. That’s all any of us can do… in marriage and divorce.
What will you do differently in your next marriage?
- 10 Rules For A Happy Second Marriage
- 7 Ways to Ward Off Those Dreadful “Second Marriage Statistics”
- My Second Time Around: What I Was Looking For, What I Got
- Do I Really Want To Marry Again?