I want to talk about divorce. Specifically, mine.
I want you to know that the “D” word holds no negative connotation in our situation. There is no guilt, resentment or regret in my heart. Nor with my ex husband. It’s been 7 months. Maybe 8. The divorce itself was quick, seamless. Painful. It would be a lie to say that ending something that important doesn’t hurt. Perhaps just a bit less than we both expected. It was a 2 week process handled by only one legal representative who sought out the best interests for all of us.
What makes a marriage fall apart? It didn’t. I loved my ex husband and I know that he loved me. We love each other still. I don’t believe that you can share a life and raise children with someone and ever stop having a bond with them. It’s unfathomable. We created life together, from our own flesh. We shared love, and happiness and a bed. We shared tears and grocery bills and sometimes scraped to get by. We made joint sacrifices. We nested and moved cities, moved homes, unpacked houses and shared a bathroom. Our bodies. Our secrets. That kind of relationship cannot be undone and never should be. We are permanently bonded to the people who we shared ourselves with, in whatever shape that bond lives.
I married my best friend and tried to make him a husband.
Our relationship was based on a familiar friendship, love and compatibility. We foresaw these as the perfect ingredients for marriage. We are a great team. We were (and still are) used to and comfortable in each other’s company. There were a lot of missing elements and undiagnosed factors in our relationship that we didn’t recognise in the beginning. These factors of course enlarged and grew more important as the years tore in to us, no matter how hard we fought them; and trust me: we did.
We fought for each other, our marriage and our friendship when we probably shouldn’t have. We pushed each other’s boundaries year on year in total silence. We made each other lonely. We made each other sad, and restless – and we hated ourselves for it. I know I did. We sought qualities in each other that neither ever possessed.
This is the thing: You marry someone at a time when you are both happy and they fill your holes with the qualities they have. Like… (just examples) maybe you’re a needy person and your partner is an affectionate person: MATCH. Maybe you’re an unorganised person and he is tidy: MATCH – and so it goes. But then years go by and you mature and might find that you’re not a needy person anymore… but he’s still affectionate. Now… he might feel rejected. Maybe you’ve become super organised but he’s still tidying up after you, so you might suddenly find that annoying. Controlling. Do you see where I’m going with this? We literally un-match as we grow, develop and change. All the bits and pieces that fit so perfectly can (and probably will) slide out of place and it is not. your. fault. It is not. his. fault.
But we make it each other’s fault, don’t we?
On the surface, and even in every day life: we were happy. We could easily have stayed in our marital home for another 10 years. I know that marriage is at times hard and lonely for almost everyone at some point. I strongly believe that it’s an institute worth fighting for. Being married really does mean falling in love with the same person several times.
I want to talk about marriage more because it’s a wonderful, beautiful thing that will rip your soul apart if you don’t give it room to be flawed. It’s not supposed to be perfect. You aren’t supposed to be happy all the time. It won’t fulfill you, and it might uproot everything you never knew about yourself. It will test you, and your sense of hope. When things get bad and you don’t know if they’ll EVER get better but you stay because you promised someone. Him.
You need to have hope.
With marriage comes all the other promises you made to each other too. It’s the breaking of those little ones that snaps the rope that holds you both together. At some point you might both just be standing there, each holding an end of the string and looking to each other for a solution. You can try to knot the pieces to join the string again, and after a few years your rope might be covered in knots and bumps and that’s okay because you’re trying.
Maybe what happened with us is that neither knew how to tie knots properly. Maybe we failed. Maybe we needed to admit that we didn’t have what the other person needed and we never did. I think there’s a maturity in that. An acceptance. Love, even.
We talk every day. We went through a natural adjustment period (read: borderline murder threats) but that was only for a few days. It’s kind of like when you fight with your best friend, and you annoy the hell out of each other…. then you call them a few days later, and it’s like nothing even happened. We hang out, socialise, give each other advice and play with the children together. We are almost exactly the same as we always were – we just don’t live together anymore.
We are going to be in each other’s lives forever. We made that decision when we had Noah – nevermind marriage. He is family. He is friendship, and he is a “daddy”. At the end of the day, he is my best friend. We’ll still annoy each other sometimes, and we’re fully aware that we’re stuck with each other in the beauty of joint parenthood… and that’s pretty great, because he’s a wonderful father.
And that’s one knotted rope that can’t be undone.