Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Reflection on the End of a Marriage

How does one write about the end of a marriage? I can say we’ve been avoiding the end since before the beginning. We fought entropy for a very long time and, finally, we’ve run out of energy and have stopped fighting. In our time together we’ve experienced a lot of good, anger, grief, joy, beauty, many frustrations and scarce contentment. We’ve compromised, given in, conceded and worked and we always wind up back here. 20 years of circling round and winding up here. There’s no right or wrong, no good versus bad, no victor nor victim, just two flawed people who can rarely find a way to take comfort in the security of one another. We’ve never, in our 20 years, learned to rely on one another or to be truly faithful to us: That back door marked “Exit” has always stood open, brightly lit and available. We’ve stood on that threshold for so long we finally found ourselves stumbling through.

I keep thinking about that Dave Mason song:

So let’s leave it alone ‘cause we can’t see eye-to-eye.
There aint no good guy, there ain’t no bad guy.
There’s only you and me and we just disagree.


We’re not sure how to go about this reinvention of everything familiar. It would be so much easier if there were some compelling reason—some wrong, some event: an unforgivable hurt—but there’s not; there are only a lifetime of small omissions, thoughtless actions and regrettable words which add to up to this desolation of unity. I think we are both weary of feeling alone together. I’m exhausted by not being able to trust the good feelings to last very long. When things are good, when we are able to turn to one another and relax and find comfort and pleasure in one another, it has so many times felt hopeful, like a new beginning. But one can only believe in the same beginning so many times before one stops trusting in the hope—which, of course, is hopelessness.

After years of discussions, tears, prayer, support from my spiritual community and trying, trying, we’re laying this romantic partnership down and placing our positive energy into our parenting partnership and our friendship. We work well together as parents and we actually, in spite of everything, like one another as people. Those aspects of our relationship have often been overshadowed while the more dramatic and negative dynamics absorbed our attention. We’re letting go the drama so we may define our individual selves apart from the bound-ness of marriage. When individual equilibrium occurs, we anticipate being able to bring what is good and strong and pleasant to our myriad remaining ties.

We are a work in progress. We’re working together to discover who we are apart. It sounds strange and very different but we’ve never shied away from defining things our own way rather than forcing ourselves into the roles given us by society. Normal is being estranged from one’s ex. But who says we must? We still admire the things that drew us together in the beginning. Yes, there are many reasons that we can’t live together but that doesn’t mean that we can’t LIKE one another. And so we are slowly learning who we are as individuals and as former spouses forging a new way of relating with one another and with the world.


Anonymous said...

Sometimes divorce allows a friendship to develop that may be healthier than the romantic relationship - better for the adults and the children both, although it may be a while before the children understand. For all of you, hang on to the respect and the caring. -POLLY

MB said...

I think you have a wonderful talent for seeing really positive possibilities where not everyone can see them. I hear you using that ability to shape your divorce into something that allows you to hang on to what is good about your marriage. I'll be holding you in the Light as you move through this difficult time, but with confidence that the transformation will be positive for you and those you love.

Mary Ellen said...

You seem clear-eyed and steady-hearted, and this decision seems, from your account, to be in good order. All of the work you've done together to keep the marriage going for so long will surely contribute to your success as parenting partners and friends. That is a true accomplishment. May the new year bring peace and a sense of fresh, new beginnings for you and your family.