Find your happy, healthy life without guilt!
Life’s too short.
While the passion behind it is every bit as moving as a Nicholas Sparks novel, my writing here will no doubt fall way short; so, please give me the grace to stumble through and do my best. With all sincerity, I hope what I’m sharing here will impact you in some way regardless of where you land in the world of relationships. If you’re married to the love of your life, be wise and never let them go. But, if that’s not your case, and perhaps like me, you’ve continued to accept a destructive marriage for way too long, there is freedom. This is for you. To start, I’m going to plant a seed here: release the guilt and give yourself grace to live a healthy, happy life. Alright, here goes.
A little background: Welp, it’s been 96 days since he left us (the 4th time). And while that’s a necessary detail, it’s really not the part of the story I want to focus on. It’s simply the pivotal moment in my life that violently shot me in the trajectory of this new normal I find myself in today. I have learned so, so much as a result of his decision to escape his life. Yep, he escaped with no forwarding address and zero effort to see his girls since that day. We’ve had birthdays and graduation where I presented our younger daughter her diploma, prom… and in a blink, life just goes on. I will quickly say here with full confidence, I’m in a better place because I finally let him go. I’m choosing not to be angry and I do have compassion for his struggles. But, I fought the good fight. Yes, of course I made every effort to save the marriage year after year to keep our little family together. I pleaded for him to be truthful with himself and to get help. But, here’s the reality: at the end of the day, my path changed. I will always be thankful for the good times, but most of all, I’m thankful I have my girls. And with that background, I can share what’s really on my heart.
Warning: Especially if you’re a Christian (as I am), fall more to the conservative side (as I do), and are Bible believing (like I am), this may challenge you. Here’s why. People like us grew up being filled with a set of ideals from a young age. It’s “one man, one woman, together forever”, right?! Our parents, grandparents, and Sunday school teachers were well intentioned. They were determined in their efforts to instill in us the “right” Biblical worldview and values that formed who we are as adults today. I believed it all and that was my plan!
BUT, what happens when our real-life path diverts? In all my years in VBS, I never heard a story that said this: life is going to disappoint you; you are going to struggle; there will be unexpected failures, yet God will never remove His love from you and you will come out just fine. Here are a few truths often glazed over in those stories: God said David was “after His own heart”, yet he was taken by Bathsheba. And He loved Jonah, who fled in disobedience. And what about the woman at the well? Jesus loved her enough to have close conversation with her followed by compassion. All are examples of living an imperfect, unexpected life still loved by God. Consider these scriptures with me:
Genesis 50:20 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”
Isaiah 61:3 “…he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair…”
Romans 8:1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Here it is: What I am saying is this, you may be called to a different path. And that is the place that well-intentioned Christians sometimes refuse to go. From childhood, our brains are conditioned to believe there is only ONE “right” path and anything less than that is failure. There is a disconnect here. The truth is we are living in a fallen world where sometimes the husband leaves again or a wife becomes disengaged and quits trying. Sometimes divorce is the healthiest path for you, them, and even the kids. Spinning into shame and guilt for wanting something more than a miserable, destructive relationship, pushes a message of perfection instead of grace! Because God is love, (that’s what scripture says) and He’s not a God of disorder, why would He ask us to stay on a miserable path or continue in destruction? He wouldn’t.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “choose your hard.” Marriage is hard. Divorce is hard. My personal reality is this: my “hard” was due to accepting a miserable marriage for way too long. I was paralyzed in those “ideals” from childhood that said we MUST stay married regardless of the pain or destructive, unhealthy behaviors! So, for way too many years, I gave in to the pressure to stay married because I was supposed to, not because it was the best choice. I am finally in a better place of allowing myself the grace to live a healthy, happy life because life’s too short to waste being miserable. I know everyone’s story has their twists of complexity, so choose your hard and forge that path in confidence.
As a side note, please don’t hear me saying to be negligent in your marriage. Perhaps my message is untraditional, and maybe it will stretch your thinking. I hope it does. But, before many years pass and you wake up one day 10 years older in the same situation like I did, I hope you’ll consider my words. Nobody plans this, right? But likewise, no one plans to roll over and passively accept misery either. I did fight, by the way. I went to counseling… lots of it. I quit my job when he asked me to. I prayed more. I read so many marriage books it’s ridiculous. I gave up friends he asked me to. I dressed differently. I spent less money. I let him track my location, control all the finances, and make all the big decisions. I kept myself in shape. I made good meals. My house was clean and organized. But at the end of the day, it was never enough. Life is too short for that.
Conclusion: Spending half your life with someone who you feel lonely standing next to isn’t worth it. The kids will be fine too, by the way. As a matter of fact, I asked a close friend recently to tell me his thoughts on navigating a life between two families. He’s college age and his response was refreshing and one I won’t quickly forget. He said, “It’s made me a stronger, more independent person and I have a bigger family to share life with!” He’s one of my favorite people in the world! We have many lengthy discussions and I respect him a great deal. He’s already lived enough life to have a healthy perspective surviving imperfect, unexpected circumstances. I applaud his parents for guiding him so well.
Consider this: Who do you wanna call first when something stupid funny happens? Who can make your coffee just the way you like it? Who would you drive two days for to see only two hours? Who can you really laugh with and never worry about being judged? If your ‘who’ in those questions is not your spouse, it’s time to be real and move on. I’m saying this confidently only because I’m coming out on the other side of the pain and I see things more clearly now. Sometimes, God allows events to happen so He can bring you to the next path HE has for you. Yeah, there may be a storm to get there, but I’ll say it again, release the unrealistic ideals and all the guilt. Give yourself grace to live healthy and happy. Life’s too short not to.