This is not a test.

When Cautionary Husband and I were first married, I used to have nightmares that we were getting divorced.  It was always based on a huge misunderstanding because I would clearly never want to divorce him of my own volition, but I was helpless to stop it.  What’s done is done.  What must be shall be.

In some of these dreams we were divorcing because I’d cheated on him, but the cheating usually occurred before the plot of the dream began, and I was very confused as to how in the world I let something like that happen.  I’d plead with him, “But I don’t know why I did it!  I wasn’t in my right mind!”  He wouldn’t hear it, though, and I’d be left with the consequences of my actions, a life in shambles, completely different from what I had imagined for myself on my wedding day.

Occasionally I’m struck that, in the most literal sense, my worst nightmares have come true.

Luckily, my life is not a product of my twisted subconscious.  Or, at least, I’m working on that.  Cautionary Husband, it turns out, is much more forgiving in real life.  And I’m not helpless to stop the divorce.  But even if I were, my life would not be in shambles on the other side.  What’s done is done, but I’d have to disagree with Juliet: what must be doesn’t have to be.  She proved herself wrong, anyway, and killed herself before Thursday next even arrived.

All of the comments and encouragement I received on my last post was overwhelming.  I’m so grateful to each of you, for the support and love you send my way.  But I’m not sure I deserve it, and I wanted to set the record straight.  Some of you said I’m brave, but I’m not.  I feel like a coward.  Some of you said that at least I can move on knowing that I did everything I could do to save the marriage, but I don’t know that at all.  And I need to before I sign those papers.

I haven’t done much to honor my wedding vows, but Cautionary Husband has, even in the face of infidelity and betrayal.  And somehow I just can’t convince myself that I’m holding up my end of the bargain, wanting to get divorced because…what?  Because he doesn’t understand me?  Because he doesn’t meet my needs?  Because we don’t connect?  It just doesn’t seem substantive enough.  It might seem that way to other people, but it doesn’t seem that way to me.

I need better reasons to stay than I have, I know, but I also need better reasons to go than I have.  Until I have those, I’m not going anywhere.

And in the meantime, we’re gonna have a whole hell of a lot of fun together, Cautionary Husband and I.

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27 Comments

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27 responses to “This is not a test.

  1. juliennejiggs

    What is your relationship with CH like now?

    Do you two spend much time together?

    Is it like you’re dating but not living together?

    If you don’t want to answer, that’s cool. I’m just curious 🙂

  2. myvanityfair

    I like it. Now is the time to be proud of yourself, no matter what happens.

  3. Jason

    So I think I might provide an interesting look at your problem with the “D” word.

    You said that your not brave and feel like a coward, I think thats not true because at least your doing something to change your life. Are you happy being married to GH? If not, can you somehow change the marrige? No? Then you are doing what you need to do. You would be more of a coward if you were to stay trapped in a lifeless marriage.

    I know life is not fair and you can’t always get what you want. But right now it seems like your standing in a void and can’t find a way out, or rather don’t want to find the way out.

    When you think about it marriage and and divorce are a lot alike in feelings.
    You often wonder if what your about to do is the right thing or not.

  4. Hmmm…. I would suggest you talk to your therapist about this. (As if you aren’t…)

    The reason I say this is what you’ve listed are very good reasons to get divorced: “Because he doesn’t understand me? Because he doesn’t meet my needs? Because we don’t connect?”

    Marriage is a union, a partnership, and if one person doesn’t understand the other, doesn’t meet the other’s needs and doesn’t connect, well my dear, how would it survive? How CAN it survive?

    Best of luck figuring it out, but never feel as if you have to validate or prove your “reasons” for getting a divorce. Sometimes you just know, and often when that happens, putting words and qualifying it is hard to do. Doesn’t make the decision any less right, just means you can’t explain it. But guess what – YOU DON’T HAVE TO. A long time ago I realized few people wanted the dirty version of what happened between my ex and I. I learned that stating, “we wanted different things in life” was a quick and easy explanation that satisfied most people’s curiosity. Close friends know more, but few people know the whole story. Quite frankly, it’s none of their fucking business and I know the decisions I made were best for me, even if others don’t understand them.

  5. And knowing, truly knowing, will make all the difference in your decision.

    I’m so, so proud of you.

  6. stefanie

    A person can choose to leave a marriage at any point in time, but generally that person does not have the option of coming back whenever/if-ever they choose. I think you are wise to want to make sure you have done everything you can before you make a decision that would likely be permanent. I haven’t ever commented before because I haven’t felt like I’ve had much to contribute, but … since it sort of sounds like you have some readers who think it is braver to leave, I just wanted you to know that I think it is very brave of you to keep trying. It takes a lot of courage to press on through the tunnel when you’re not sure whether or not you’ll find a light at the end of it.

  7. god, i think this is your best post yet.

    and i TOTALLY get what you’re saying.

    i think if you start, right now, as if you first met CH. and you’re dating, and you’re getting to know each other, and you see that guy you were initially attracted to, that you first married. things could turn out differently.

    and then, wow, what a story.

    so have fun with it. and with him. life’s to short to do anything else but try.

    i wish you all the best. co

  8. Jennie

    I’m not sure there are any “better” reasons for divorce or the end of a relationship than those you’ve listed. If you are trying because you feel you have to, then it may make things worse. From what you’ve written, CH sounds like a good person, but that doesn’t mean that he’s the right person for you.

    I’m glad, though, that you’re taking the time to think about this. It doesn’t sound like an easy process.

    I think you’re brave. Many people lack self awareness. Many people refuse to go to therapy and examine themselves. Many people will dismiss problems in a relationship and struggle for years. Many people end relationships with lame excuses and cold words without explaining how they actually feel. I think it’s brave of you to examine your marriage – whether you stay or leave.

    In any case, much luck, and stay true to yourself.

  9. I’ve been thinking more about your words…

    Just because CH is a wonderful, forgiving, understanding man does not make him the right person for you. He can be amazing and still not be the right fit. Just something to consider.

  10. DB

    Cheering out loud in my office for you. Love you.

  11. This post made me cry. Thank you for sharing.

  12. A

    I think that no matter what happens, to be able to look back in the future and know that you gave it everything, absolutely everything…only that will make whatever decision you make okay.

    Sometimes the hardest thing we have to do in life is to try to meet someone else’s needs before our own. That’s not a popular idea in our society, but I truly believe it’s the only way a marriage can survive. We cannot be doormats or completely unaware of our own needs, but love never looks to self first.

  13. Robyn

    You are wise. My friend and I were both in similar situations, and I tried my absolute best to make things work. I tried for a long time before my husband and I decided to let it go. Now, I am happy and growing and feeling generally good about things, although I do still miss and worry about my (soon to be ex) husband. My friend did not try nearly as hard as I did, and she is suffering from doubt and self-pity and all manner of badness.

    I’m not saying she deserves it, just that I think that making sure you feel like you tried your hardest is a very good decision. And if you and he can have fun in the meantime? All the better.

  14. tabithablogs

    I am so impressed by your words here, CG. My fiance and I went through a pre-marrieds course (twelve loooong weeks) and heard stories from many married couples who had been through some pretty rough shit (pardon my French). More than one couple had dealt with infidelity, and managed to work through it and reconnect with each other, reconcile the hurt, and are happier than ever now. Hearing their stories, I felt a combination of comfort and debilitating fear. I thought, “If these good, Christian people are capable of cheating, how can I ever expect to be a good wife?” but at the same time, “Wow…healing from something that terrible really is possible.”

    Anyway, all this to say, regardless of whatever I wrote in reply to your last post, I’m really rooting for you and CH to be able to resolve this whole thing. And I loved reading that you are not taking the prospect of divorce lightly. Despite the fact that you may feel like a coward or a failure, you are an inspiration. I mean, I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve given up after just a fraction of the disappointment or frustration I’m sure you’re dealing with. Or the guilt. The pain. Your ongoing struggle here, which you have so graciously shared with us, reminds me that life takes work. Relationships get screwed up, but giving up should be the absolute last resort.

    I pray that you and CH will continue to work at it, and that you will gain healing and respect, connection and passion. I forget where it is exactly, but somewhere in the Bible it says something like, “Go back to where you were, and do the things you used to do.” Go on a date. Ask each other first-date-type questions. Lay under the stars together. Go for walks. Steal kisses in public. Be innocent again…

  15. I’ve been married less than two years, and my experience with infidelity is limited to the affair my dad had (that resulted in my parents’ 25 year marriage ending), so my advice is rather… unfounded, shall we say. If you find some truth in it, great; if not, that’s cool too.

    Long before I met my husband, I was madly in love with this guy I had gone to college with. Painfully, breathtakingly, irrationally in love. And he had not a clue. It took years of telling myself to “just get over him” (which totally didn’t work) until finally I received a letter from him (I was working out of state, blah blah blah, details….) that completely ended my infatuation for him. I realized, point blank, that I was absolutely not getting what I wanted from him and probably never would.

    I also came to realize that, while I wasn’t getting my needs met, he obviously didn’t think he’d get his needs met with me (otherwise he might have, you know, asked me out or something). And I loved him [selflessly enough, by this point] to want him to have that. I wanted him to have a fulfilling, loving relationship.

    I guess what I’m saying is this: since you’re on the fence (and I agree with the other person who said it’s quite hard to come back to a relationship after divorce), it’s a good place to stay for now. When you think about your relationship, are there moments of clarity where you realized, “I totally can’t do this,” or “I could live like this forever” ? Do you love him enough to want what’s best for him, and for him to have what he deserves? And if you do, do you think you can be that person, or do you have to give him up?

    I would never actually encourage anyone to get divorced, having watched my parents go through it. But I would never condemn anyone, either. It’s a tough road to walk, whatever you decide. In the end, you need to be OK with your decision, and you need to know that you made the right choice for YOU. That’s the only way you’ll have peace, and the only way you’ll be able to move on from this point (whatever “move on” means).

  16. humanbeingblog

    When it’s done, it’s done. But it’s not done until it’s done.

    Been there. Eventually, you’ll come down on one side of the fence or the other. Meditate on the question “Which way will I achieve my highest good and greatest personal fulfillment?”

    Bottom line, set fear aside and listen to your gut. Your gut never steers you wrong.

    Lynn

  17. Anonymous

    Hello, Friend.

    It seems like everyone has advice for you :).

    All I can say is that I eagerly read all your posts and pray for you often, that God would give you wisdom and strength. I must admit that I have also prayed that God would restore your marriage and bring you to a place of deep love, understanding, and peace with one another. I pray that you can experience the connection you need with CH.

    Last night I talked with a friend who got married after dating her husband for 3 months. He’s not the man she expected to end up with — he’s a sweet surfer boy, and she craves intellectual conversation and witty exchanges. I asked her if she regrets marrying him. She said she regrets getting married at so young an age (she’s 25, he’s 23), but that she loves him because he is a good man, a good husband, and will be a good father. “He’s what I need, even if he’s not always what I want,” she said.

    Whatever your choice is, I pray that you will have peace.

    Hugs.

  18. KP

    You know, it all comes down to a choice. And, if you want to make that choice, to stay married, then you do it with all that you have. If you can’t do it that way, then you make the choice to go. It is not easy – neither way is easy – but the fact that it is your choice makes it worth it.

  19. kindred spirit

    I just received this and thought it might be appropriate:

    “Why do dogs risk getting bugs in their eyes sticking their heads out of car windows? Because the contrast of the bugs in the eye (vs. no bugs in the eye) is a small price to pay for the exhilaration of that ride.” (Abraham-hicks)

    Forget the bugs. Enjoy the ride.

  20. Lauren

    Someone up there said this is your best post yet. I happen to agree. And, again, as someone else said, I am rooting for you and CH to work things out and begin to understand each other, connect with each other, and meet each other’s needs.

    Simultaneously, no judgment here if you can’t work things out. Sometimes it’s best to start fresh. With the same person, alone, or with another.

  21. Lauren

    P.S: Always best to stop worrying and just play.

  22. Rebecca

    I, too, am rooting for you and CH. Although I do not know the exact wording of your wedding vows, it would be interesting to look at them and ask yourself if you are still following them. My vows stated, “…I promise to love you unconditionally, to support you in your goals, to honor and respect you, to laugh with you and cry with you, and to cherish you for as long as we both shall live.”

    You already have a lot of good advice from other readers and may not desire more, but I encourage you to ask yourself if you are “loving CH unconditionally, honoring him, respecting him/his wishes and cherishing him.” If you are doing this on a daily basis, then I would say you are doing everything you can to save the marriage. Instead of focusing on the affair and it’s ensuing guilt (CH has already forgiven you) or seeking your own happiness, focus on serving and loving CH. There will be tough times, times when you feel like he does not understand you, times when you do not enjoy being together, etc., but it seems that CH truly loves you. I really hope that you can work things out but will not judge you if you decide to get divorced.

  23. Crap. I read your post again and cried again.

    And I think I just high-fived my computer.

    Definitely rooting for you over here.

  24. M

    You know, I think that you are brave. You are brave and courageous for writing this, for sharing this, and through all you experienced with CH and CL, really starting to be honest with yourself and what you want and need out of life.

    That’s such an important thing that very few people are honest about, and it does take courage.

    And working on things with CH takes courage too.

  25. CG-

    I wish I had some profound advice to share or some insight to give. But as someone else said, the choice is yours to make. Whatever you decide to do, I hope it will lead to your greater happiness and fulfillment.

    I’m thinking about you and hope to talk in person sometime this year.

    -me

  26. m

    Less than a year into my marriage I debated leaving. He betrayed me and I knew, should I leave, it would be justified. I had all the reasons in the world to go. However, I decided to stay because I knew if I left without giving it my all then I would always question my decision and beat myself up for not giving it my all. So I stayed and poured my all into our young marriage. That was three years ago. It’s not been easy and it got worse before it got better, but I have never once regretted my decision to stay.

    It took time and effort and far more energy than I thought it would but we grew together and my husband became the man I needed him to be and I, the wife he needed me to be. But that did not happen until we both decided we would do this, with all of our hearts and all of our strength.

    Praying for you, that you would find peace and a clear understanding of what you desire your future to hold.

  27. Carla

    Here’s my take. 🙂 Your decision to stay is just that, a decision–an intentional choice. It gives you ownership. Your marriage from here on isn’t something that was inevitable or that happened to you. This time it isn’t forced on you by the impressions of the religion you grew up in or by any thing else. It’s something you’ve chosen.

    You have the option to leave. It’s a good option. You have the option to stay. It’s also a good option. You’ve created those options, and now you get to choose. That ability to choose may be the thing that makes your marriage different than it used to be. While it seems you had the decision in the beginning, I’m not sure you saw it that way. I think you needed to come this far, this close to leaving, to make staying a possibility–to turn staying into your decision.

    By the way, perhaps if you divorce now, you may look at the divorce as something that was imposed on you by genetics or fate or even nightmares.

    Clearly, my creed in all things choice related is “live intentionally.”

    Love.

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