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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.
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
A willingness to hear each other’s hearts led to open conversations. Open conversations gave way to deeper transparency. Knowing what your partner is feeling, thinking and experiencing inspires compromise. Compromising on a routine basis resulted in comfortability, and the desire to spend more time together. The more time we, two people who were emotionally charge and comfortable with each spent together, the greater the chance we would have sex. (Divorce Journal – S.E.X.)
It seemed that we were more willing to hear each other’s hearts after I declared that I wanted a divorce. The open and honest conversations were some of the best we experienced in nearly nine years. It could be the removal of self imposed barriers built on fear that opened this entryway. We were courageously transparent with each other.
The result of our openness led to a willingness to compromise. I placed the plan to file for divorce on the shelf. She was less defensive. We both accepted blame for our part in the deterioration of our marriage. In the words of Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock, “it takes two to make things go right.” (It Takes Two) It was the height of mutual understanding and compassion in our relationship.
We became very comfortable in eah other’s presence. Somewhere along the journey we begin to look forward to speaking with and seeing each other. It started with daily messages to check-in and forward material that had nothing to do with us. We sent prayers, scriptures, jokes, and news about family and friends.
Our daily contact grew from text messages into hanging out. Soon after, we were in a full on sexual relationship. We both missed this part of our marriage. It took years to adapt to each other’s sexual styles and preferences, but when we did it became magical. What we shared was beyond physical satisfaction as it was a spiritual depth to our connection.
Neither of us had abandoned our positions on divorce. I reasoned that we were still married, thus I felt no guilt in pleasing my wife. She accepted our time together. We decided to live in those moments, and they were good. However, when we were a part I wondered if she felt that I was taking advantage of her. Or, if she was using these moments to further weaken my position. I hoped she remembered that I had never been that weak for sex.
The real tragedy was that the more we had sex, the less we talked. Our meetings became more about the intimacy we shared and less about deconstructing the issues that led us to separation. We realized this imbalance, but it was diffiult to regain the amount of time and effort placed into conversation when their was so much positive sexual energy between us. So, we continued to have sex. And it was good.
Instead of dragging out the decision of whether we continued to remain separated with no plan of action to repair the breach in our marriage, I decided to move forward with a divorce. She was still very clear with me that her heart’s desire was different than mine, but accepted the decision after failing to present a plan that we could attempt to save our marriage. The decision was made and mutual, right?
In our conversation, I forgot the wisdom that I share with couples that are in a similar position. I would coach them to, first, clear the air by sharing as much of the process for housing their side of the decision. People need to know how you come to a conclusion.
Afterwards, there should be time apart, so that each person can process what has been shared. In a follow up meeting the couple has an opportunity to process the decision together. The following up meeting(s) is really never about the initial decision or the process of how it was derived. The follow up meeting(s) is where the negotiations begin, where counter-points are offered, and where the descenting partner has a chance to punch holes in the meaning and methods of their spouse’s reasoning. People need a chance to defend their position.
Non-verbal communication is critically important. Non-verbal cues will tell you if the message was well received or just brushed off. For instance, you say it is over. They express disappointment in the decision and claim to accept the decision. But, they proceed to take their clothes off and get into your bed. Chances are they have not truly accepted the decisions.
Finally, you must affirm your position. Follow through on the plan of action. The more you linger, the less your spouse will take you serious. Inaction equates to indecisiveness; therefore, you open the door for confusion and renewed hope.
By the way, break-up sex is horrible.
Here is my journal entry, which explains of the conversation went for me and my spouse. Divorce Journal – A Mutual Decision, Maybe