Posts Tagged ‘divorce’

Friday, May 21, 2010

Pretty ironic ending to the day, the week, and the school year today. Two friends of ours got married tonight and we went to their wedding. We’ve known them for a long time and have seen them go through a lot of stuff with each other and with their ex’s. I couldn’t help thinking how nobody there had a clue what was going on with us and how shocked they would be if they knew. It kind of broke my heart to see them celebrating finally tying the knot, while ours was unravelling.

Monday, May 17, 2010

It was really weird. Last night, right before I went to bed, I got an email that said, “Need help in your marriage?” I thought it was spam, so I ignored it. Today, I got curious and I went ahead and read it. It was from a guy named Mort Fertel, who apparently is some kind of marriage big shot. It said I visited his website and signed up for the free information – which I didn’t – but I went ahead and looked at what he had to say and it’s pretty interesting.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

This walking to the farmer’s market and talking about our marriage thing is really weird. During all the rest of the week, she won’t talk about it at all, and I know better than to push. It will just start a fight and make things worse, so I just kind of go along with whatever is happening throughout the days and hope things will get better. I keep thinking that any day now, she’ll say she’s sorry for the way she’s been acting and this will all go away.

Tonight, she indicated that she’s not sure she loves me anymore – no surprise there – and went on to say a bunch of stuff that sounded crazy to me. She said she doesn’t know who she is anymore and that she needs to find out what she likes and what she wants. She said she needs time and that if she can have the time to figure all this out that she might be able to choose me again. Then she asked if that made sense. I told her “not a bit, but I respect you and if that’s the way you really feel, I don’t understand it, but I’ll respect it.”

I wanted to scream at her, “You’ve already chosen me. You’re married, remember,” but I knew that wouldn’t help anything, so I mostly kept my mouth shut. How can she say these things? You don’t marry someone, raise kids together and then change your mind. Yes, I was unfaithful, but that was over a year ago. How can this be happening now? And why?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Well, all the good from St. Louis last weekend is gone. Ceecee wrote on her Facebook today that this is her “hating random people day.” It’s been weeks now that we haven’t been close and I can’t seem to reach her. No matter what I do, it doesn’t seem to matter. We aren’t fighting, she just seems to have turned off to me. She goes through her days angry and distant and just goes through the motions at home. I don’t know what to do.

Wednesday, March 31. 2010

I’m really starting to get concerned. Ceecee goes through phases where she’s upset for a while, but it usually only lasts a couple of days and everything goes back to normal. This has been going on for quite a bit longer and she doesn’t seem to be snapping out of it. I don’t know what to do. When Taylor comes home, a lot of the time he asks, “Is Mom in a bad mood today?” If the answer is yes, he pretty much hides out in his room. He’s been spending a lot of time there lately.

Friday, June 25, 2010

My stepson is sitting beside me as I simultaneously force myself to wear the brave face and quell the overwhelming desire to break down and cry. I can’t believe I am doing this. Right now, I am driving the truck that contains all of my precious wife’s belongings that will go with her to her new apartment. Yes, I am helping her leave me.

Early this morning, we went and picked up the keys to her new place and she was excited. I was devastated, but she didn’t seem to get that. We’ve been married for about thirteen and a half years and I still have no idea how it came to this. Well, actually I do, but I’m still struggling with that. Yes, I messed up, and yes, I hurt her, but that was a long time ago. Why this? Why now?

She finally caught that I was upset and told me not to be. She said I should be happy for her and that she wants to celebrate. I knew she wanted to celebrate, but I couldn’t imagine what that would have to do with me. I said something to that effect and she told me that she wanted us to share the Champagne and strawberries together. That made me feel a little better, but it also confused me to no end. Why are we doing this? She says she needs time. She says she needs space. She says she needs to find herself and figure out what she wants.

I’m not stupid. I know that’s the kind of thing women say when they are having an affair, but that can’t be what’s happening here. Ceecee and I spend almost all of our time together, so she can’t be seeing anyone. I would know. Besides, she promised me years ago that would never happen and I believe her.

Anyway, we went and got the truck, loaded all her things, and now we’re getting close to the parking lot of her apartment building. How can I do this? Why am I doing this? Who helps his wife leave him? A guy who is crazy in love with her and has had his heart radically changed, I guess. That’s me. The guy who loves her more than his own life and would do anything for her.

I’m not sure if they are nationwide, but if you live anywhere in my part of the country, I’m sure you’ve seen those “We buy ugly houses” billboards. They offer quick cash (at very low value) for houses that are fixer uppers, or for people looking for a very fast sale.

Yesterday, I passed one of their billboards that said across the top, “Don’t fix it, sell it.” I couldn’t help thinking how that very attitude is such a large part of the problem we have with so many aspects of our modern American culture.

We’ve become such a throw away society. We buy inexpensive, low quality goods and just replace them when they wear out or break. There’s no reason to value them.

We do the same thing with our relationships – even our marriages. We fall in love, we promise forever, and then we toss it away when it doesn’t make us happy.

“Don’t fix it, sell it” implies that it isn’t worth fixing. That it will take too much work. It will be too difficult. It will take too long.

Just get out and find a new place is the message. Except that nothing other than the physical address will have changed.

Because if you didn’t value the home you had enough to maintain it and to fix what needed fixing, you won’t value the next one either. You’re not solving any problems, you’re just creating a cycle that doesn’t change.

The problem with ending your marriage when it isn’t going well is that you bring the same issues and even more baggage to the next one. You can find another person to take the place of your former spouse, but when you look in the mirror, the same person’s still looking back at you.

So don’t sell it – fix it! When you do, a lot of good things happen.

First of all, you value that person you pledged your life to enough to say, “I’ll do whatever it takes to make this right.” That will bring about a change in the other person, although it may take a while.

Secondly, the time and effort you put into fixing your marriage translates into a much higher level of committment in the future. Easy come, easy go, but when your blood, sweat, and tears have built the house, you don’t just walk away.

Third, and most importantly, you change yourself. You learn to stay and work instead of cutting and running. You break the destructive, “things are never going to change” cycle.

All of these things together add up to both of you getting what you’ve always wanted in the end. This is not a pipe dream, it’s the truth.

If you don’t know how to do this, there are plenty of us who do and will be more than happy to show you the way. Don’t sell it, because you’ll be selling yourself short. Fix it instead. Write me at therestorationtour@gmail.com

“A stitch in time saves nine,” wrote Ben Franklin, one of the wisest men who ever lived, if I do say so myself. Unfortunately, much of his wisdom is lost in a world of modern technology where many don’t even realize what a stitch is.  As a metaphor for marriage, or even life, old Ben was right on the money, though.

A stitch in time, for those of you who don’t know, refers to the sewing of a garment when there is only a small tear, or unraveling of a seam.  Rather than waiting until it’s a major problem, if the small things are attended to right away, they won’t ever become major.  It’s not unlike when your car begins to exhibit some small sign of a problem. If you get to it before it gets worse, you may only need a minor repair, but if you ignore it, you may eventually find the damage has reached the point of catastrophe.

As my earlier posts indicate, I was entirely neglectful and failed to put this principle into practice where Ceecee was concerned.  I allowed the small things to become big, and instead of taking care of the routine maintenance, I waited until the damage was nearly beyond repair before taking action.

In Patrick Morley’s devotional, “Devotions For Couples,”  he writes about “oneness” as the overarching goal of marriage.  “Oneness is to make a third entity of two who forsake themselves for each other, ” he writes.  “Unfortunately, after the honeymoon…selfishness sets in.  The one becomes two again.”  He then challenges couples to ask themselves: Are the two becoming one, or is the one becoming two?

For so many years, I felt myself grasping at something that I simply couldn’t take hold of.  I knew that things were wrong.  I knew that something was missing.  I just couldn’t get my mind around exactly what it was or what to do about it.

I really had no excuse.  I should have known what love was and what love required of me. I should have listened to my wife when she told me what she wanted and needed from me.  I shouldn’t have been lazy when it came to the most important earthly relationship that I had.

Now, we don’t let even the little things slide.  When something even begins to appear to be wrong, we address it.  We talk about it and make immediate adjustments, while the issues are very small.

Having loved and lost, and loved once more, we are extremely protective of what we have.  Just the other day, we had a slightly negative interaction and I made a comment to the effect that this was more like becoming two.  It wasn’t an accusation, just an observation.  It didn’t feel right, so I said so.

My wife didn’t get upset or respond defensively.  Instead she recognized what I was seeing and we adjusted our course.  It’s easy to fix the little things, and by so doing, we don’t have to fix any big things.

Only days before that, I had told her that for some reason, I had just felt a little bit off for a day or two and that I was sorry that I hadn’t been my usual self.  I know I had been a bit grouchy and less attentive than I normally am.  I wanted her to know that it wasn’t her fault, it wasn’t for any known reason, and it wasn’t going to persist.

When you notice the car making a funny sound, or something doesn’t seem quite right, that’s the time to deal with it.  It’s probably going to be very simple to fix.  It may be low on oil, a tire is out of balance, or a belt may be wearing out.  If you ignore it, you may need engine repair, new tires, or be stranded along the side of the road somewhere.

It’s the same way with your marriage and anything else in life. Keep up with the routine maintenance.  Take care of those things that are important and don’t let them get into a state of disrepair.  Then you can enjoy a marriage and a life that runs smoothly and avoid the costly repairs of separation and divorce.

I have nothing against the idea of love being all about hearts and flowers.  I mean, sugar and spice and everything nice seems to fit with the idea, at least from a greeting card perspective.  And if we are only talking about the concept of “being in love,” then sappy and sweet is appropriate.

The problem with all of that is that it’s not even close to being what love really is.  If love is only love when everyone is happy and smiling, then it isn’t love at all.  In fact, that idea of love equating to happiness is why so many people divorce soon after they fall “out of love” or one of them gets hurt by the other.

Author James Baldwin wrote, “Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up.”  Before love can truly become love, it has to learn to give without needing to take, and it has to overcome some hurt and disappointment.

How does one measure love?  In terms of greatness, the standard may well be sacrifice.  Who has loved greatly?  Who do we esteem as having loved beyond the reasonable expectation of being loved in return?

Is it not the one who has sacrificed greatly?  Is it not a Mother Teresa, an Oscar Schindler, or even Jesus Christ?  Didn’t Jesus say that, “No man has greater love than he who lays his life down for his friends?”

I fear that far too many people allow their spouses to leave and divorce them without realizing that they can enter into that battle where love becomes an overcoming, conquering force that wins the day when all seems lost.  Too many people give up far too soon and then lament that they “still love” their spouse, but they can ‘t do anything about what has happened.

If love is nothing else, love is most definitely about doing something about any situation where someone has a need.  When that someone is your spouse, it’s time to rise up and be the warrior who will not rest until the battle is finished.  Marriages don’t fail because people are ok.  When a marriage fails, people are hurting, devastated, afraid, and often irrational.

If you’re the one who still wants the marriage, you can’t base your actions on what your spouse says or does.  You have to fight.  And it’s not him or her you’re fighting.  It’s those spiritual and emotional forces that are causing the pain and devastation that are the enemies of your relationship.

You have to set aside the role of the hurt victim and take on the role of the conquering rescuer.  You have to go to battle on behalf of your spouse, even if he or she is currently the source of your pain.  If you don’t, you will lose, and you will lose permanently.

When much of Europe was being over-run in WWI and WW2, The United States could have stayed away and left things alone.  We could have stayed home when genocides were taking place, dictators were crushing the people within their borders, and atrocities were being performed in remote corners of the world.  We could have allowed people to continue to suffer, but we chose to go and do something about it.

When my wife was gone and living her life in a way that was intended to cut me out of her future, I could have given up.  I could have made excuses.  I could have said all kinds of things about how she made her choice, I deserved better, she isn’t willing to work on the marriage, and on and on and on.  Instead, I chose to see her as she really was, and as I dare say almost every spouse who leaves is.  A hurt, frustrated, scared soul who never wanted to get to this point.

Seeing her that way allowed me to fight her demons rather than fighting her.  It allowed me to put myself aside and go rescue her.  She didn’t think she needed to be rescued, and she didn’t want to be rescued, but now she thanks me for coming to her rescue.  I’m not saying these things to build myself up or portray myself as a hero.  I’m saying them because I continually meet people who are separated or divorced and they don’t understand that if they want to save their marriage, this is what you do.

There is so much to say about just this one thing that I could probably write a book about it and perhaps I will.  For now, be encouraged and challenged.  If this stirs you, or if you know someone this may help, please consider sharing.  To talk privately, contact me at therestorationtour@gmail.com

 

In my last post, I mentioned a house we restored in Western Kansas.  It was while living in and working on that house that I learned the meaning of the expression, “blood, sweat, and tears.”  I put all three into that house as the project progressed.

When my marriage began to unravel, it was very similar to the experience of restoring houses like that.  Things had gotten bad and it didn’t really matter how or why.  What mattered is what needed to be done about it.

It doesn’t take both people working to restore a marriage, however.  Most people assume that if one person isn’t willing to work, the relationship can’t be fixed.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

If there was ever love there, it can be rebuilt.  Either person can do this.  Sure it’s easier if both people work together, but that’s rarely going to be the case.  When a marriage reaches that point, generally either someone wants out or has already left.  That person is probably not going to be working.

If the other, the one who wants the marriage, will do the work, it will still get done.  It will take longer and be more difficult, but it will still get done.  It’s not so much a question of if it will work, but of how long it will take and what it will require.  I wish everyone who has found him or herself staring at divorce would realize this.

When Ceecee decided to give up on me and move on, I was the only one there to do the work.  I had to learn on the fly and I had to get busy.  No excuses, no “what if’s”, I had to get to work and be diligent about it.

I worked and worked, day after day, week after week, month after month.  Most of that time, it didn’t seem like it was doing any good.  There was little, if any response from Ceecee.  I just kept working, because I believed I could rebuild the love.  I was committed to seeing it through and idealistic enough to believe that it could be done.

When you work on a house like the one we bought in Kansas, it’s much the same way.  You work and work and labor and labor and sometimes it doesn’t seem like it’s ever going to be worth it.  It seems like it was a mistake to ever buy the house and it seems like it will never get finished or amount to anything.  All the work doesn’t seem to yield results.

At times, it seems like it’s destined to fail.  There are setbacks and failures.  You cut into something you shouldn’t have cut into.  You try to move a wall that you shouldn’t be moving.  You discover problems that you never anticipated.

So it was with our marriage.  I was working and building to be sure, but there were setbacks.  I said things I shouldn’t have said.  I opened up things that I shouldn’t have dug around in.  I got selfish at times and lost focus.

Then it comes together all of a sudden.  You finish the drywall and put on paint.  You refinish the hardwood floors and suddenly it looks like a whole new place.  The woodwork gets done, the colors take shape, decor comes into focus, and as if it happened all at once, a beautiful home rises from the sawdust and scraps.

It was literally two weeks from the last time my wife told me that she didn’t love me until she called asking me to move back in with her.  There had been months of building leading up to those two weeks.  At any time, I could have given up.  I could have concluded that it was a mistake or it wasn’t worth it.  I could have wasted my opportunity.

If I had, I wouldn’t be writing this blog, loving the most wonderful woman I’ve ever known, and trying to communicate to others that this is how it works.  But it is how it works.  Love is something you make.  You build it by putting yourself aside and giving all you have to the one you’re committed to.

If there was ever love there to start with, it can be rebuilt.  It takes time.  It takes committment.  It takes sacrifice.  But it’s worth it.  It’s always worth it.  It’s so much more than worth it.