“You still get along and don’t hate each other. Why did you get divorced again?”
“You might get back together; it sounds like you two like each other.”
“You co-parent so well, you still laugh, why aren’t you married?”
These are questions I’ve been asked since I split with my ex-husband over two years ago. At first, they used to make me second-guess myself and the decision we made together. When someone said something to me about how our marriage didn’t end in tragedy and we should have tried harder, I wondered if maybe it was true. Which was a huge mind-fuck after being pretty sure it was the right thing when we signed the divorce papers.
Then I took a hard look at the effort we had put into our marriage. I remembered the six years of trying to work our way through a rough spot. I was there for the talks and the trying to come back together. The people questioning us were not.
Marriage is different for everyone. Divorce is different for everyone. People handle things and their lives in different ways, and once I stepped back into my truth, I began to come up with better responses for these frequently asked questions instead of lying awake at night wondering if I’d made the most catastrophic mistake of my life simply because someone asked me, “Why did you do this if it wasn’t that bad?”
We divorced because like isn’t love.
We divorced because we both deserve to be loved and desired.
We divorced because it was what we both wanted.
We divorced because parenting well together does not equal a great marriage. Neither does laughing together.
We divorced because we didn’t want to get to the point of hating each other.
We divorced because having a relationship that wasn’t “that bad” wasn’t good enough.
Oh, it would have made it easier if I hated my ex-husband when he moved out, his car packed with all his belongings to spend his first night in his condo. There was a part of me that wanted to want him to go more than I actually did because then… well, then I wouldn’t have had to deal with the pain, guilt, and sadness that was mixed in with the feeling of being able to breathe better and feeling like it was the best decision we could have made for our family.
He sent me a text when he got into bed his first night away from home just as I was getting into bed myself which said, “This is so strange. It’s hard not lying in bed with the kids down the hall and dogs at our feet.”
“I know,” I answered. “But this is what we need to do. Right? What you need to do.”
“Yes,” he said. “It is.”
Had he not said yes, had he felt like it was a mistake and he wanted to come home, I would have gone along with it.
But he knew if he did, as hard as it was to not crawl back into a comfort zone, we would have kept going as we were. Liking, but not loving. Laughing, but not communicating. Parenting, but not connecting. Tolerating, but not desiring. Co-existing, but not having each other’s backs.
That wasn’t fair to us. It wasn’t fair to our kids. It wasn’t fair to our friends and family who had to listen to us talk about how we were simply going through the motions and resenting one another. And it really wasn’t fair to our sex life.
People change, and falling out of love and growing apart is reason enough to end your marriage. At least that’s my opinion. Who wants to sit next to someone at dinner, pay a mortgage, and sleep under the same sheets with someone who doesn’t love them?
I don’t care if people on the outside of my life–of our lives–think we made a mistake just because we still get along. I don’t care if couples who’ve “been together forever” think we are selfish and don’t know how to work at a marriage like they do. I’ve heard from many of them, and they can’t even stand their spouse so their opinion is lost on me. They have shown me the kind of marriage I don’t want.
And I’ll never feel shame around our decision again, no matter who asks me about it — not even my own children. I certainly would never want them to stay in a marriage with a person they weren’t in love with, nor would I want them to stay with someone who obviously didn’t love them. So, why would I set that example in the very home they live in?
Always, always do what is best for you. But never stay in a loveless marriage simply because you are still friends and can tolerate each other. Don’t stay just because you think you should because it’s “not that bad” even though you fantasize about leaving every damn day.
That’s not a partnership, and it certainly isn’t love. You deserve more.
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