Marriage Is A Threesome

Prior to 1997 I found it impossible to understand the behaviour of divorcing couples.  I could not comprehend how someone could sink so low as to use their child to try and hurt the other parent when their relationship ended.  I always believed there was no way I would ever behave like that if I ended up divorced but I was wrong.

I had no idea what was ahead of me when I let my husband move out for a trial separation!

Our marriage had lasted 13 years but it had never really been a happy marriage.  My husband wanted to change me right from the beginning.  His plan, and I approved of it to start with, was to change me into a “good” wife and mother.  My mother-in-law was the blueprint for my “makeover” as he felt she was perfect and, with his help, I could become just like her.  He once told me he only married me because he believed I would change and become more like his mother with his help and guidance.  He said he never would have married me if he had known I would not change.

I tried to change, I did change, but I just could not reach the standard his mother set.  I couldn’t even get close.

His mother was a saint who cooked three meals a day, baked goodies for morning and afternoon tea, and always had something nice prepared for supper.  She ironed everything from sheets and undies through to her cleaning rags!  She sewed covers to protect them for her washing machine and dryer.  She cleaned house to a strict schedule that left no particle of dust or dirt anywhere and she waited on her family hand and foot.  She went to bed when her husband wanted her to and had no flaws or faults of any kind.  I was as different from her as it was possible to be!  The only thing we had in common was we both loved our husband and children.

Once I asked my daughter if she would like to have her Nana for a mother and she said with no hesitation that she would.  I then asked her if she would like to BE her Nana and she said: “No WAY!  She’s just a slave!”

After 13 years of trying my ex and I were both tired, both hurting, both feeling unloved so a trial separation seemed like the only solution.  When he moved out I had mixed emotions.  It was a relief to be out from under the weight of his expectations and demands but it also seemed really wrong for us to be apart.

My ex had been through a divorce once before so he accepted the marriage was over and found someone else after we had been separated for two years.  I buried my head in the sand and waited for him to accept me as I was and try to win me back.  When he told me he had found someone else my first reaction was relief.  It was over.  I was free.

I was completely and utterly unprepared for what came next!

As reality set in the pain began to grow.  My husband no longer loved me.  He had replaced me just like that with no attempt to win me back.  My marriage was over.  He had broken his vows to me and was forcing me to break mine too – it was supposed to be ’til death parted us and neither of us was dead!

The pain I experienced was massive and I did not understand how it could hurt so much when I was no longer in love with my ex and it was, in fact, a relief to be free of him.

I disintegrated.  I turned into a wounded animal lashing out at anyone who came near me.  I broke things and behaved in ways I never dreamed I was capable of and I just could not make any sense of it.  Where was all this pain coming from?  It could not be coming from the loss of my ex – I was glad to be rid of him – so why was the pain so overwhelming?

Within a month I had become someone I despised.  I was saying awful things to my children, I hated my ex’s new lady and I was looking for ways to hurt my husband.  I knew it could not be allowed to continue or I would alienate my children.  I had to get away so I arranged to take our investment flat in another state as my share of our assets and I left town to go and live there.

Once I was away from my ex and his new relationship I found my pain began to subside to more manageable levels but it was still the worst pain I have ever felt in my entire life.  I was baffled and tried to make sense of it.

Where was the pain coming from?

I worked out that it was coming from somewhere so deep inside me that I could not touch it with my rational mind.  It was irrational, primitive, powerful and out of my control.  It was triggering anger such as I had never known before.  I wanted to physically harm my ex and, at times, his new partner too.  I wanted him to hurt and hurt so bad he would want to die – just like I was hurting.  I hated him more than I had ever hated another human being in my entire life before.  I hated him a thousand times more than even the men who molested me as a child!  I could forgive them but I would NEVER forgive my ex!

It has been almost exactly ten years since my marriage ended and I understand where the pain was coming from now.

I thought my relationship consisted of my husband and me but I was wrong.  There was a third living entity involved and its name was “Marriage”.  I poured thirteen years of my life into nurturing that entity.  I sacrificed for it, I forgave insults and hurts for its sake, I put my own needs second to the needs of my marriage and it mattered to me even when I no longer loved my husband!

When my husband came to me and said the marriage was over my first reaction was to the loss of HIM.  I was relieved.  When the relief wore off I began to react to the loss of that other living thing – the marriage.  That was a whole different thing – that hurt!

For thirteen years I had poured everything I had into keeping that entity alive and now my ex had come along and, with a few words, he slit its throat!  There was nothing I could do to save it – I had to watch as it bled to death before my eyes and I reacted to my ex the same way I would have reacted to him if he had slit the throat of one of my kids!

I was lucky though.  However hard to bear my pain was it was nothing compared to what other people must suffer during a divorce!

I didn’t love my husband so there was no pain involved in losing HIM!  The thought of how much more painful that experience would have been if I had still loved him makes me quiver with distress even now!

My children were aged 17 and 21 when the divorce happened.  They were old enough to resist all attempts to use them.  My ex, for example, tried to get my daughter to call his new lady Mum.  The pain and rage I felt about the attempt would bear no comparison at all to what I would have felt if my daughter had done as she was asked.  At 17, however, she was too old to do as she was told.  She told him, in no uncertain terms, she had one mother and one was all she wanted.

My heart goes out to those whose children do as they are told and call their step-parent Mum or Dad!

My children were too old to really be controlled by me or my husband but that did not stop them from having reactions to what happened.

When we separated my son went to live with my ex and my daughter stayed with me.  My son saw the pain my ex went through when I went off the rails and he sided with him.  During one of my outbursts my son got angry with me.  He coldly told me I was just jealous of my ex for having someone new and I should do everyone a favour and move on with my own life.

My daughter, on the other hand, saw the pain I was going through and she sided with me to the point where she began to express hatred for her father and a reluctance to visit him.

Luckily for us all I recognised how wrong that was for HER.  I grew up without a father and it was not something I wanted for my daughter.  My ex was a good father and I was horrified at the thought of her losing that relationship so I arranged for her to go and stay with him for a night or two.  I told him how she was feeling and advised him to try and repair his relationship with her while he still could.  I told her nothing that was happening between him and I should be allowed to interfere with her relationship with him and to give him a chance to prove he was still her daddy.

She stayed with him for a few nights and came home loving her Dad again.  The next time I was mouthing off about him she stopped me.

“That’s my father you are talking about Mum,” she said, “I don’t need to hear this.  Please stop.”

I stopped but it was hard and I needed to get away.  It was just too hard to watch my mouth and I was afraid, if I stayed, I would end up alienating both my children with my rage and hatred.

I don’t even want to imagine how much worse things would have been if my children had been younger, if I had still been in love with my ex, or if I had not been able to move away!

The death of a marriage is just that – the death of a living thing and it hurts.  It hurts even when you no longer love the one you are married to.  The pain of its loss is primitive, powerful and really overwhelming.  It can turn any reasonable human being into a wounded animal who lashes out viciously and blindly hurting anyone who gets too close – even their own children.

I understand, now, how people can do dreadful things to each other and to their children when they are in the grip of the grief and agony that the deliberate slaughter of a marriage can cause.

I’m just so thankful my pain and agony was not strong enough to make me harm my children by destroying their relationship with me or with their dad!

Leave a Reply