Searching for answers
Our closest couple friends could barely digest the news. One cried out, “But you had the best marriage of any of us.” Their shock magnified my own. What had gone wrong with our marriage? Nothing, as far as I could tell. My husband had simply stopped loving me; he felt completely incapable of staying in the marriage. I wanted this to be somebody’s fault, and certainly not mine. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs in pain, confusion and anger. I was assaulted by images of bitter couples, fighting over the kids and stealing money from the joint bank account. It was irrational; my husband is a kind, loving man. But the stereotypical blind-with-rage divorced couple crept into my dreams.
I wanted our experience to be different. I didn’t want to taste bitterness every time I looked at my husband. I wanted our children to experience caring and respect between their two parents. I believed we could uncouple our lives and move on in new directions, like cars uncoupling from a train, but I had no idea how to make this happen. I needed wisdom and role models, yet what I found was the toxic energy that surrounds divorce in our culture.
A trip to the bookstore revealed a measly selection of titles on separation and divorce. The language in these books reinforced my worst fears: “failed marriage,” “broken home,” “alimony,” “custody.” It was a language of negativity and battle, and we heard a lot more when, at my suggestion, we went to a collaborative law session, supposedly the path of least conflict in a divorce. Sitting across from a man I had loved most of my adult life, listening to lawyers tell us how we should sort out our future, what was best for our kids, I began to shake with rage. After the session, I ran to my car, demented by emotion, my husband in close pursuit asking if I was all right. The wheels of the car shrieked a response.
My husband had always believed we didn’t need lawyers to direct our uncoupling, and I decided he was right. We are both fair and decent people; we know what is best for our kids. Surely we could come up with an agreement on our own.