I just talked to a friend last night about marriage… and divorce. As a father and husband who has gone through a divorce, I had to give some advice (and probably a little because I am nosy and pushy too).
For those of you that read the “marriage is not a 50-50 partnership” blog, you will recall that I mentioned how much my wife would love it if I stopped writing about marriage… ours in particular. Now you are starting to understand why my wife’s world is so filled with regret… she is after all, the one who suggested that I start blogging.
So, this friend who is having issues with his wife needs some advice. He didn’t ask for it, but in my world that is a very thin line… and it is a light grey one with hashes… not even solid at all.
Before I dive in here… I have to tell you that yesterday I submitted a blog post for consideration in a guest-blog-swap with SB. You may have read his awesome offering here (it felt good to have an educated and very well written post on this blog for a change). I will mention that his question was so vague I didn’t know what to write about, but in hindsight, that post is just overflowing with little nuggets that every man needs to read. Not only was it one of the most intelligent posts I have done, but it was truly from the heart. Does that mean not as funny, probably, but we can’t be laughing all the time. Okay, that just sounded dumb. There must have been a few laughs in there that I am not recalling now.
While that post was an essential read for all men, this one here is going to focus on the married man. And I know that I have women that read this blog, if you want to read it, feel free, but please do not print it out and tuck it into your husbands lunch bag or set it on his side of the bed. That is not going to help.
I know that there are married couples out there who have never had a fight. Not even a loud discussion. Barely a disagreement about anything. This to me, is proof enough of alien life. These people will shed their human skin one day and come out on Ellen saying that they want sanctuary from their home world or something crazy, but I doubt they are human in any case. No two people can agree on everything. It simply isn’t healthy for us as humans. I think we need challenges and discussions to grow. If you aren’t being challenged by your partner, you probably picked poorly. If you are married to this partner, too late. You need to figure out how to live with your choices.
There are many choices that come with take-backs, second chances and do-overs. I would have some serious debates over my list because I am a little nuts, but lets talk about one or two of them and see if we agree…
Taking a life is a choice that has no take-backs, whether it is yours or someone else’s. It is absolutely a choice you have to live with. You can’t come back and wish you hadn’t pulled a trigger… well you can wish I suppose… unless the gun was aiming at you…
Having kids is one such choice… and I can hear some of you already, ‘but I can give a kid up for adoption or have an abortion’. Yes you can, but you can’t shove him back in and pretend you never got pregnant… live with the choice, and now you have to live with your second choice and know that you killed a human or gave one away. Either may have been the right choice for you at the time, but you still have to live with it. Are we understanding that this is not a pro-life / pro-choice debate but an agreement that both sides need to live with the choices they make?
I cannot 100% guarantee to a person that either of those choices would be wrong, I am a good father but have thought many times about burying my head in the sand. I understand why parents run from their responsibilities, I simply don’t agree with it. Suck it up princess, and live with the choices you made. Learn how to be a better father rather than running away. I know, I am a cold-hearted bastard.
But now we get the crux of the matter… are you a man, willing to live with your choice? Are you man enough to live with your choice? If you are, then choose! If you are a bigger man though, then contemplate the choice before making it. When I was dealing with my divorce, there was nothing that I would not have done to go back in time and try again… to treat my wife right, to simply be aware that the world did not revolve around me.
I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflections.
– Thomas Paine
I love this Thomas Paine quote but you have to be willing to deal with the trouble to smile through it, to face distress to gain strength from it, and to stop and reflect to grow brave. Most men are not willing to do this, they simply make the choice to give up. Giving up on a marriage and all that this brings to your children, is a choice I wish I had the chance to make, but it was made for me because of my previous choices. It is not something I believe anyone should choose lightly.
As far as I am concerned, there is only one reason for divorce, and that is that you choose to spend the rest of your life alone. You admit that you are not man enough to fix what you started. You made the choice to get married and in today’s society we don’t even think twice about a do-over. Why is marriage no longer something we fight for?
If a man came into my house and tried to take my wife or kids, they would need a shovel to find his body. Yet a man with that same belief system (as psychotic as it is), will sign divorce papers two years later because he is tired of fighting with his wife or dealing with stress. What happened to the man who had the courage to fight for what he wanted?
And there is the question. What if you simply don’t want your marriage anymore? I understand this all too well.
Sorry to say, you will get no sympathy from me because I am one of those archaic men who believes that marriage is not a fly-by-night choice. You may have had different vows than I did but mine said till death do us part. When my wife was struggling in our divorce… most of her struggles were with trying to get me to stop begging for her to come back… she implored with me to go find another woman to marry and forget about her.
I told her, what I will tell you. I made a choice, I married the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Despite her apparent flexibility, my choice could not be undone because I chose to not have that flexibility. I had the courage and moral fortitude to fight for what I wanted even when I didn’t want it anymore. If she wanted me to stop wanting her back, she could kill me. If she wanted me to re-marry, she could die. Those were her two ways out. She chose number 3, to remarry me.
I have always loved her for the fine choices that she made.
When we were divorced, I met another woman who I could have loved. She was and is an amazing woman, but as much as I was infuriated with my ex-wife and the position I found myself in, my lack of courage was not going to be used to bring my baggage to another wonderful woman and potentially bring destruction or distress to two families. No matter how much I hated Stacey (and let me tell you that there were some long days). I had loved her once. When I did, I made a choice, a choice to spend the rest of my life loving this woman, to ‘guide, protect and provide’ for her and our children, no matter how rough the ride.
The ride has been rough but I have learned how to smile through the trouble. I have learned to gather strength from distress. I have grown brave through reflections, both mine and the reflections of others. Doing this has made me a better husband, father, employee, friend, son, volunteer, member of society… it has made me better. This would not have been possible had I not made a choice to have the courage to stand by my choices.