September 29, 2013

Cracks in a Failed Marriage. ~ Natasha Watkinson

Where we live, applicants for divorce must agree that their marriage is irretrievably broken and cannot be saved.

You file your paperwork, pay your fee, wait for a court date and, should there be no complications or disagreement, a judge will return your status to “Single” in 3-8 weeks.

You and the person you once thought you would spend your life with will stand in front of a judge and plead a case for their absence. What I once couldn’t imagine has become a very real matter of semantics and clerical work—at least I think that’s how it will go. We are just at the beginning of what is called a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage.

When we finally walked into the metaphorical arena of divorce, rather than just getting close and backing away in fear, my mind has been jumping forward with fear, backward with regret and present with a deep sadness that knows no depth.

After sitting with these feelings I am far from resolved or healed but I have learned a few things about marriage:

1. We cannot expect one person to be everything. 

After relocating to Florida, our world became very small.

This served us well for awhile—all we needed or wanted was to be together. But that is not a healthy long-term dynamic. My partner became my friend, lover, companion, social secretary, personal chef, and tech support.

The brilliant Marriage Therapist, Esther Perel, speaks eloquently on this modern marriage expectation so I will defer to her wisdom to illustrate my point.

2. We have to make the other person’s happiness as important as our own.

Although this could resemble a version of codependency, I believe that unlike expecting one person to fulfill many roles, this is a different expectation. In his book, The 5 Languages of Love, Gary Chapman explains how the goal of two people (in a committed relationship) is to communicate to the other in their distinctive language.

As much as we tried to make it work, we loved each other in different ways and our understanding of each other had difficulty translating into how we both needed to be loved.

3. When you decide to get married make it count (ie. don’t be drunk when you say the vows).

Our love was genuine but the commitment was fragile and fleeting. We married in Las Vegas, my husband (nor I) didn’t so much as propose as intimate that marriage might be a good idea and a way to get some gifts and have a party. And we loved each other and, yeah, all that.

It was careless and in the end our hearts broke by the lack of regard and respect for the sincere promise we made to each other that cold day in December.

Despite our impending divorce, my soon to be ex-husband and I remain friends and are still fond of one another. Yet, I mourn the loss of my marriage like any other grief—with time, encouragement, support of family, friends and wine.

I also find myself turning towards a belief in something I cannot define: that still, small voice which assures me, as the fog lifts, I can expect to clearly see the fractures of my failed marriage.

How else but through the cracks can the light find its way in?

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Assistant Editor: Gabriela Magana/Editor: Bryonie Wise


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Natasha Watkinson