Many of my interviewees who have a difficult divorce tell me there were warning signs throughout the marriage. Some only see those warning signs with hindsight, others are keenly aware of them and that can make reaching the decision to divorce even harder.
My current guest, Helen says there were warning signs even before their wedding. Here’s Helen:
What should have given me the first indication of all that was to come was when we were first married. We hadn’t been married a year and I remember being out at a bar one night. We were having a drink and I can’t remember what I said. He said, “I don’t want to ever be defined as a husband. That’s not who I am. I don’t want to be defined as a husband.” I even said, “What does that mean?” I had no idea but that should have been my first inkling.
And here’s another thing as well. It was so incredibly silly. He was so controlling, very controlling to the fact that when we were getting married he didn’t like the matches that we had. There was a book of matches on the table and he wanted them redone. He wanted to know about the china. He wanted to be involved in all of this stuff.
Ironically, and surprisingly, my son’s death almost brought us closer. That was actually a good time in our relationship. He was very supportive and unlike many people who lose a child, it pushes them apart. And it did bring us together. At that moment in time he was very supportive and it was great. We really bonded together.
Later, when I was expecting our second son we were going for the sonogram. We were coming out of the hospital and we were so excited. It was the first time we’d had a sonogram and we saw him. It was just the relief after my son had died.
We were walking out of the hospital and we were right on the curb walking out when he nudges me off of the curb. I was stunned. I said, “Why did you do that?” And he said, “You always constantly push me out of the way”. It was so bizarre at the time when you least expect it.
Ironically, when we were getting divorced, the judge said, “Has this guy ever tried to work or has he always lived off his wife and mother-in-law?” He actually hadn’t filed taxes since 2008 and told the judge and my attorney the reason he didn’t file taxes was because I knew when I married him he didn’t know how. So again, my fault he doesn’t file tax.
He was completely total dependent on me.
One the true opportunities that comes from divorce is to ask yourself, “What was my role?”
It isn’t necessarily an easy question to answer and it certainly isn’t comfortable or pretty but this is a significant learning opportunity. Exploring this gives you the opportunity to change your behavior in your next relationship and to avoid making the same mistake again.
By the end of my marriage I felt my husband was totally dependent on me and with hindsight I could see how I had facilitated or enabled that throughout our marriage. Instead of confronting the issues that I feared could threaten our marriage, I worked around them keeping the marriage intact, keeping up the facade of a perfect family. I didn’t realize what I was doing at the time. I do now.
Have you considered your role in the breakdown of your marriage? How are you changing your behavior?
P.S. I vaguely remembering having match books at my wedding … I don’t suppose you see those now?
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