I was married to the love of my life for over 20 years. We brought three children into the world, and I thought we would be together forever. I will never forget the day she came home and told me she found another man.
The person that I knew and loved for most of my life had become a stranger. She filed for divorce, and I was left with a hole in my heart. She moved on quickly, and I am still struggling to find my bearings.
I knew divorce was hard, but no one ever warned me about all the emotional aspects.
Living in Denial
For the longest time, I kept hoping and wishing my wife would come to her senses. When I got the dissolution papers in the mail, I still thought she would change her mind. Every day was a new hope.
I would tell myself she didn’t really love the other man and that it was just a mid-life crisis. I had to live in denial because it’s what kept me going. If I faced the facts, then I would have to face a life without her. What would this mean for my children, and what kind of dad would I be with the hours I work?
Denial lasted for about four months for me. Though my wife is still alive and well, our marriage was over. My counselor told me that many people view this as a death of sorts because there is no more we, it’s just me. Once I got through the first stage of grief, I was angry.
Dealing with The Anger
I was so mad at her. Why did she do this to me, to us? She just walked out of one relationship and into another without giving it a second thought. Thankfully, we didn’t fight it out in court, and we did our divorce online. I don’t think I could even face her through the entire legal process.
The anger comes and goes. I have forgiven her, but I won’t be able to forget. Every time I look into the eyes of my three sons, I am reminded of the happy home that she destroyed. I’m also angry at me.
What could I have done differently that would have saved my marriage? Was there something wrong with me? I have learned these are all typical questions that anyone in this situation asks, and my feelings were not atypical.
It’s just something I will continue to deal with through therapy.
The Bargaining Game
During the bargaining phase of my divorce, I must have looked like a fool. I wanted to preserve what I had worked so hard to build. I turned to my faith, and I even questioned the reason for my existence. It was so easy for her to go online and fill out some documents and just end our 20-year marriage. Me, on the other hand, wanted to reclaim what was mine.
I will admit that I sent texts, flowers, cards, and left mushy voicemails. I was determined to get back what was mine. Each time, I looked silly and more felt even worse about myself. My bargaining efforts were useless as she wasn’t coming back.
Depressed and Stressed
The day I realized my marriage was over, I held the paper in my hand for an hour. I sobbed so hard the ink ran on one part. I went through every tissue in the house and didn’t eat for a week. Things got so bad for me that I didn’t think I wanted to live anymore. Thankfully, I stayed in counseling the entire time. I found therapy to be an outlet that I needed. I was put on antidepressants, and slowly I started to get better.
I will admit that there were days just getting out of bed was too difficult. I became physically sick from internal pain. For me, this phase lasted about two months. I never dreamed I would get so low. Why don’t people tell you about the horrible pain you experience through a divorce? I would have fared better if I lost my big toe, but I lost my reason for living.
Acceptance of A New Reality
I remember the day that I accepted my new reality. I was sitting in front of my computer with tears dripping down my face. A social media post popped up from three years prior. It was a picture taken on the beach with my wife and three sons. We were so happy, and we looked like we were living in a fairytale. That day, I got tired of crying, and I was tired of feeling the way I did. I vowed to never cry again over someone who didn’t love me enough to stay. I found an inner strength that I never knew I had.
I found things to be thankful for. First, I still had my children. We agreed on shared parenting so that I would get equal time with my boys. Second, I am so grateful for that online divorce service. I didn’t have to hear all my business in front of a judge. I didn’t want to face her and hear the words “it’s over.” Our area allowed the marriage to end by the judge signing off on our agreement.
I am so glad that we went the route of dissolution rather than fighting about every little thing. It would have only made things 100 times worse. Plus, it was much cheaper than getting a lawyer and paying thousands of dollars on top of it all. Being out so much money for an attorney would have added insult to my already injured heart.
It’s been five years now since the day she left. I’ve moved on, and my heart has healed. I wish that I had known about all the emotional stuff I would go through during the divorce, but no one can prepare you for all you will face. However, I am proof that you can move on and get over this bump in the road.
It’s not the end of my life, just the end of the life I once knew.