A couple of months ago, I was asked a difficult question by one of my readers.
If you could do [marriage] all over again, what would you do differently?
I froze. It seems impossible to deliver eloquent wisdom, when my answer seems to continuously change with time.
I feel as if I’ve gotten past the constant emotional state of my divorce, and towards a stable, steady path of healing and forgiveness. I don’t think of myself as “divorced” as much as I do “single”. But suddenly, a memory will pop up, or I’ll actually hear from X’s ass face. My blood pressure rises, and I immediately want to punch him out.
I may be a Christian, but I’m still human.
I’ve noticed still-tender wounds and scars in dating relationships. Recently, I found myself not believing that someone would love me for me. How would he not quickly discard me for someone else?
That’s fucked up.
But it’s all part of the process.
What astounds me sometimes is the fact I was married to X for ten years. That length of time is not something you can undo overnight. It helps to have little to no contact with him, and, despite the initial shock and hurt, it really helps that he re-married so quickly (albeit illegally). I want, very much, to wish him well. At the same time, I want nothing to do with him, ever. We will never be friends, and I’m quite fine with that. The person he became is grossly unattractive to me. And, to be fair, I’m probably equally as unattractive to him.
For as long as we both shall live, however, neither one of us can escape the fact we were married for ten years. Surely we had something good. I loved him fiercely. I know he loved me. I will never deny that. Yet, as time continues to march on, I can look back and see how different we once were — happy, in love and with similar life goals — and how quickly we grew apart. Sometimes I think we were just too young. I was as naïve as good little Christian girls get. I have often wondered if I was just a fool to have married my first love. But then I think about my best friend in high school – most definitely my very first love (I was too afraid to admit it) — and wonder, if I had married him, would we have survived?
There are no guarantees. Just choices.
As comically messy as my marriage became, it is very easy for me to point the finger at X and blame him for the entire disaster. Having been a part of his life for fourteen years, we knew one another deeply; intimately. I may not have had an affair(s), but I admittedly put my career above my marriage. I was selfish and dropped the ball, too. I am equally to blame for what went wrong. That’s marriage. It takes two.
Wow. It is not easy for me to say that. At all.
With all the self-awareness and introspection I have experienced over the past three years of my singlehood, I have come to the realization that an extramarital affair is just a symptom of a greater problem. It makes me profoundly sad my ex husband felt he had to seek what he needed outside of our relationship.
Yet Tim Keller says it best in his book, The Meaning of Marriage :
“Why discard your partner for someone else only to discover that person’s deep, hidden flaws?”
What I know of relationship now is so much different from what I practiced in my own marriage. For example, if I seek my identity in my partner, I will always be disappointed. I will crush him with my expectations, and he will crush me with his imperfections. Neither one of us will ever be complete in just each other. X would have never made me whole. Only God can do that. Consequently, any man with whom I enter into relationship again cannot fill that God-shaped hole in my heart.
I sound so cheesy right now. But it’s the truth. I am only just discovering the ability to enjoy being alone and not feeling empty. God is with me, always. I need Him, always. I cannot do this life on my own. Not for a second. He is the only one who can hold me when I’m hurting; He is the only one who can love me unconditionally and perfectly. I am wholly, completely His. Any relationship in addition to that is just an added blessing.
So, what would I do differently?
Everything and nothing.
I am grateful for a second chance at love, relationship, and hopefully, marriage someday. I will give it everything I’ve got, round two. Again, there are no guarantees, but I am ready to try, especially with someone who chooses to stick with me, and I him. It will be worth it. I believe it with my entire being.
I would not be who I am today were it not for my divorce, and all the moments – good and bad! — leading up to it. I wish my marriage hadn’t failed, but, four years later, I’m actually relieved it did. I wish hadn’t acted so crazy in the end. I wish I hadn’t said hurtful things. I actually imagine, someday, X will forgive me, and I him, and our lives will continue to drift in sharp, contrasting directions on the vast, unending sea of grace.