Divorce is Ugly Even Though You Try to Make it Civil

I’m no martyr and there were times when I wasn’t proud at how I lashed out at my husband in anger and hurt. I believe, though, that throughout my ordeal I behaved with as much dignity, class, strength, and courage as I could muster, given the situation. My husband left our marriage, it seemed, not because I had done anything wrong, but because he was looking for something "more."

If you met me, you would think me far from being a boring person. Neither was he. We traveled extensively. We had hobbies (he biked on weekends, I wrote and painted.) We had a large coterie of friends and threw frequent parties. We were demonstrably affectionate and loving to each other-laughing, talking about anything and everything, holding hands in private and public, and arguing with passion. We considered each other our best friend.

Interestingly, our friends admired our marriage, wishing they could be as close and open with each other as we were. But they’re still married. Go figure.

When Bob decided to leave I fought to keep him. I fought hard and bared my soul in therapy, but nothing I did or said or promised worked. It takes two to tango, but it takes only one to leave the dance floor and break the team up.

One lawyer I consulted told me from his vast experience that spouses left the relationship in two ways:

  1. They did something to blow things up and create chaos, like cheat on their spouse and make sure they’re found out. These break-ups are usually acrimonious and full of anger, vitriol, and hate. This happened to another friend of mine: He walked in on his wife and her lover.

  2. They leave gently, as in my case, promising to try to fix the marriage by seeing a therapist or by coming back after they've had "their space.". In my situation, my lawyer cautioned, I had a short window of time to capitalize on my husband's guilt. I should get as many promises in writing, as much monetary support, and the maximum amount of assets that I could before his guilt wore off.

I left the lawyer’s office feeling less hopeful than before. Bob had promised me a fair shake, but as time passed and as he began to listen to his girlfriend, his stance hardened. I realized I was no longer dealing with my husband alone. There was another person in the equation, but I only suspected it. Interestingly, left to our own devices we would have been civil, even loving. As soon as SHE entered the picture things changed. He became hard and even mean at times. In defense, I lashed out at him.

My lawyer was right: Strike while the iron is hot. Get promises in writing. Rely on your instincts. (I knew something was off, even though I didn’t have proof.) And take the high road. Your spouse may not notice your nobility, but your friends and family will. In the end their support, friendship and compliments propped me up and helped me to move on and begin my life anew.

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