I attended a wedding today of a lady that I have a great deal of respect. She adopted me as one of her sons as I was learning how to serve people in ministry. Her presence was not only impactful on my life, but so many others during that season. As a result, the wedding was a family reunion of sorts. I was able to sit and fellowship with a number of people I had not seen in years. The highlights for me included being able to witness a mature couple experience the kind of love that leads to marriage. In addition, one of those I sat with revealed their impending divorce, and I was able to minister to them from my place of healing.
There is counsel that I would give couples or individuals that were ending a marriage or serious relationship. This wisdom came to and through me long before I met my wife. I had no idea I would need to apply it to my own situation one day. When a relationship ends, the temptation is to get up, dust yourself off, and get active. In my opinion, that response is one of the biggest mistakes anyone could make. The better option would be to take a moment to be alone. Remove yourself from people, activities, even substances that have influence on your emotional state. Spend a designated amount of time reflecting on the relationship, the highs and the lows, for the express purpose of learning more about you.
My designated time period was 40 full days and nights. During this period I refrained from the advances of everyone. I restricted my diet from unhealthy foods, music, reading material and social media sites. This would be one of the most revealing times in my life as I was able to consider some of my strengths in a relationship, and certainly areas that I needed to improve. The wholeness I feel today begin during that 40 day period.
Divorce Journal – Aftermath
Oddly, immediately after my designated period ended, my wife reached out to me. We had not spoken on friendly terms in nearly four months. I confirmed that the divorce was final and that she was a free woman. We laughed. We reflected on our journey. And we wished each other greater success in life. It was a relief to know that both of us found value in the marriage, even if it did not endure the test and trials.
The old acquaintance that I sat with at the wedding seemed to be encouraged that there was someone who understood their current place. I shared a bit of my testimony and encouraged them to keep going. There was proof of life after divorce in my testimony. And I smiled larger than anyone in the room as I could see the potential for me to meet and marry the woman of my dreams. This wedding showed me that there are no boundaries on love.
We give power to whatever dominates our thoughts. It is through our giving in to thoughts that create obsessions. My thoughts were consumed with deep questions about marriage as we approached the day that our divorce would be finalized. Those thoughts seemed to attract answers through a variety of sources. Could ay of this have been a Coincidence?
I was once advised that I can learn more from my failures than I could any success. Facing divorce certainly suggests that I failed. The amount of time invested in dissecting and analyzing every detail about our marriage begin to cause hopelessness. I wondered if I were too broken to ever pursue another relationship, not to mention a marriage.
Somehow all sorts of inspiration for having a sucessful marriages begin to appear. I found a ray of hope during a deep spiral downward and into an even more hardened place. The hope was not in our current marriage. Our time had come and passed away. Yet, I was starting to feel encouraged that I could love, fall in love and be loved, again.
The revelation was the result of a consistent stream of positive testimonies of marriages that worked. And not all of them were first time marriages, some were on there third or later marriage before they finally got it right. However, there were no details on ‘it’ or how ‘it’ made a difference in making their marriage successful.
I remain grateful for my experiences in love and marriage. In this season I am better prepared to move forward in love due to the inspirational stories of successful marriages coupled with the lessons that I have learned through personal failure. My obsessions with knowing more about the decline of a marriage brought to me a deeper understanding about marriage in general. And, I was challenged to correct some flawed belief systems, for example, that I could control every aspect of marriage. What I truly believe is that I was successful in attracting material that would help me become a better man.
It feels sort of strange to be surprised by the presence of your spouse. At the point of this journal entry, we had not seen each other for nearly three months. Our communication ended abruptly after announcing that I was finally filing for divorce. She did reach out to me once to confirm that the divorce petition was actually registered with the courts, and that was the one exception. But, within a two week period I saw her twice and it felt awkward.
Divorce Journal – I Saw Her Today
The time apart was beneficial – at least for me. I can only speak for myself. I spent the majority of the time in reflection about the years we had spent together and the few years prior to meeting my wife. It was helpful to look at the major turns in our relationship and consider if each was handled properly. Or, if not, how each major incident could have been handled differently with the hopes that we may have avoided the present course. There was no hope for us at this point as the damage was too great. But, if there was any possibility for me to love again, then I needed to face some profound questions.
There were challenges during the time a part, and the greatest was distractions from outside parties. I met several engaging women right before filing for divorce, none of which had a bearing on my decision. Each was different, yet very impressive in her own right. Meeting them and drawing their interest allowed me to see my own worth beneath the pain I was feeling. But, I was still married and it would have been unwise to pursue even a friendship. So, I explained to each that I was not available and would not be so for months. I made it clear that I would not have any contact with them during my divorce preceding. The divorce itself was not in jeopardy, but I wanted to protect my time alone.
I wondered if my wife had faced similiar temptations and if she was as protective of her opportunity to be alone. Some people do not see the value in being alone for a season; to reflect and to heal. Others may be uncomfortable or even afraid of the solitude. I would certainly understand as it takes a great deal of personal resolve to be alone when you do not have to. She is certainly capable of anything, but denying herself is not one of her favorite choices. Whatever her choice, it seemed to serve her well as she appeared to be happy both times that I saw her.
Seeing her was like passing the last final exam before graduation. It was confirmation that I could be near her, want the very best for her, and not want anything more. I knew after leaving her presence both times that I was truly prepared to move on with my life. I was indeed glad that I saw her, and that she appeared to be well.
Somewhere in my life I came to the conclusions that words have little to no meaning. I did not value promises or verbal commitments. I learned to question everything I heard. Even words written on a paper, especially those written for the purpose of binding a contract held little weight. As a result, I became a man of few words. I took the stance that my actions would say everything that I needed to communicate.
My position on the value of words begin to soften throughout the years; primarily, as a result of many trouble relationships. The differing communication styles, me choosing to lead by example and those I engaged needing to express themselves verbally caused great conflict. I begin to work towards being more communicative.
In my marriage, I had achieved a level of expression that made me uncomfortable. There were moments when I dominated conversations, and even became argumentative. This level of verbal engagement was a sharp turn from previous forms of expression. It was likely too much as I did not realize how much was pent up in my soul. Saying too much can be just as dangerous as saying too little.
However, two of the most powerful words known to anyone were still very difficult for me to use. Promise and apologize. Offering a promise presented a challenge. It was a personal offense when someone used this word, which signified the highest level of commitment, then brushed aside the necessary follow through with no regard. I was committed to not being that guy. I would not use this word unless I was absolutely sure that I was willing to give all of me towards achieving the commitment. In the event that I failed, the evidence would be clear that everything within my resources would have been expelled before I stopped trying.
The latter, apologize, is just a cleaver way of saying, “I’m sorry.” I forced “sorry” from my vocabulary long ago as I did not want to be associated with anything that was sorry, weak, insufficient, compromised, or lacking. Sorry was impossible for me to articulate, and an apology was not much easier to share. For me, it meant that either the act that would beg an apology had some intentionality or that the person apologizing could have altered the outcome. Both should be rare situations, so an apologize should seldom be rendered, in my opinion. This stance made me appear cold and callus.
On the morning of this recording, several months ago, I was feeling extremely apologetic. There was a flood of emotions as I could visually see all of the people that I needed to apologize to. Our marriage was over and I knew clearly the part that I played in the demise. There were people equally committed to our success and others dependent upon our success that would be affected by the outcome. Although I am much better at communicating, as I have a new appreciation for the value of words, I still find it difficult to apologize. Yet to all those I have hurt as a result of my decision to divorce my spouse, to them and to her, I Need to Apologize