Wednesday, April 27, 2011

When a Marriage Ends

I guess we have officially reached that age.

You know, the one that we swore we'd never get to when we were idealistic teenagers. 

Back when we promised ourselves that we would make good choices, find suitable partners, be in love forever.  You know, then.

Well, guess what?  We are that age now.

In just the past few days, I've had no fewer than four different friends, in different places in their lives, with very different circumstances, express to me that things aren't the way they were supposed to be.

They have fallen out of love, they have reached the breaking point, they have walked out.  They have been cheated on, lied to.   They are scarred from what they've been through.  Happily ever after isn't anymore.

When you walk down that aisle, all happy and optimistic, you never imagine the wreckage that your life might one day become.  You don't anticipate the choices you will be faced with.  The gravity of signing a single piece of paper.   Having to put in writing the days you get to see your own children.  What it feels like to be on the back end of a failed marriage.

We are that age now. 

We have had more than a few friends, once happily married, see the end of their relationship.  Some ended amicably, some only got there after a lot of tears and therapy.  Some are still very much filled with animosity and antagonism. 

The thing about love is that it is such a strong emotion that when it leaves, it creates more than just a void.   It actually seems to create a negative force, something that generates a fierce storm of hatred and revenge.

Fingers get pointed, blame is laid.  Children often stuck in the middle, used as pawns in the fight.

With time and understanding, one of my friends has come to a place of peace with her situation.  Life has blessed her with love again already.  Her relationship with her as-of-now-ex-husband is a good one.    Even with being in a "good place"  that it's over, even knowing that they have been preparing for this formal ending, it's still unsettling.

I tried to reassure her yesterday that it's okay that her nerves are rattled.  They should be.

Even if a marriage has been truly over for a while, even if there hasn't been an actual love/partner/friend relationship in a long time, even if the writing was on the wall that this was coming, it is still hard.

Because you aren't just letting go of this marriage, you are in some part letting go of the idea of it in the first place.  Of the illusion that forever after is even possible. 

I have another friend with a seemingly perfect marriage in counseling.  She is overwhelmed and tired and knows now that this reality isn't what she signed up for at all.  She's wondering if it is worth it anymore.  I know far too many women (and men for that matter) just like her, but unwilling to admit it aloud.

Then the one that I worry for the most.  Still very much entrenched in the aftermath of a broken heart, she is. 

I wish there was a way to make it all better.  To right the wrongs.  To make people stay honest.  To keep them in love with one another.  To sit little boys and little girls down years before they contemplate dating and educate them about what a loving, trusting relationship is, what a partnership it is supposed to be.  To avoid the heartbreak and destruction.

More often, I wish I could go back to the time in my life when I was still idealistic about love.  Where I truly believed that love was enough. That none of the other stuff mattered. 

The trouble with love is that it requires people.  And people are flawed. 

I know better than to be idealistic now. 

I've seen what a marriage looks like when those who were in it have to walk away.

We are officially that age.

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