What can you do when your marriage is over?


cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by Troy B Thompson

Someone very dear to my heart called today and told me that her husband of twenty-one years had asked for a divorce.

I was floored.

It took me a few minutes to make sense of what she was telling me.

I tried to internalize how two people who have been together for so long, who have two children and three dogs, and who just last summer vacationed with us, had suddenly decided to call it quits.

As I heard my friend weep on the other end of the line, I wondered why she had called me.

Having known me for a long time, I was certain she knew that I wasn’t the comforting type.

Nor was I the savvy financial adviser who could instruct her on how to get her affairs in order.

Even worse, I couldn’t even give her the name of a trustworthy lawyer.

And then it dawned on me; she already knew this.

So why was my friend calling me, of all people, to tell me about her marital woes when she knew how prickly I was in all things deemed “affairs of the heart?”

I struggled to find the answer to this question and suddenly, there was silence on the other end.

“Bella, are you there?”

Without hesitation I answered, “Of course I am. I’m here. Go on.”

I smiled slightly, realizing I had discovered why this heartbroken soul had called me: She needed to be heard.

She didn’t need financial, legal, or marital counseling.

She just needed to be heard.

As our conversation continued, I could hear the pain, the confusion, the anger, and above all, the uncertainty.

Her uncertainty regarding, what would happen now?

How would she survive? How would she make it on her own? How would she raise her children as a single mother? How would she make ends meet?

While I didn’t have all the answers, I was able to say something that appeared to bring her solace.

I said, “You’re going to be okay. I believe in you.”

And like magic, I heard her exhale.

Even now, I’m amazed at how a handful of words hold so much power.

I believe it’s because in our darkest moments, when we’re held hostage by fear, what the majority of us want to hear is that we’re going to be alright; that there’s no turning back; that all we can do is move forward.

The fact that someone believes in us, in our ability to jump back from tragedy, is in itself a great comfort.

It saddens me that society has led us to believe that happiness is achieved when we snag a man, buy a house, have 2.5 kids, a dog, and a white picket fence.

How can we be so gullible?

I wonder if what throws us into a downward spiral is the realization that this arrangement is crumbling.

Is our self-belief so weak, that we lose control and power over our lives the minute we learn our status will undergo change?

And if this is the case, why?

Is it because we stop believing in ourselves? In our ability to survive? In our resilience, our perseverance, our fighting spirit?

Yes, there’s no denying that the news of “I want a divorce” can have a devastating effect on even the mightiest of women.

I’m not stating the contrary.

But really, ladies, must we stay in the stronghold of tragedy forever?

My friend is crushed; she’s struggling to find her inner strength; her ability to fight.

I hear what sounds like a broken woman, but I know that deep down lays a force to be reckoned with.

All she needs is for someone to remind her; to validate the fact that yes, she will get through this; that she’ll be okay.

Because while there are circumstances that floor us, it doesn’t mean we have to stay down for the count.

We have the choice to get up.

After all, defeat does not lie in the outcome of being knocked down, it lies in your inability to get back up.

So friend, I believe in you.

I believe in your ability to come back from the dark place you’re in now. Because you’re strong. Because you’re resilient. Because you’re a fighter.

While you may think you’re broken, nothing could be further from the truth.

You’ve been given the opportunity to reinvent yourself; to tap into your inner diva; the one that reaffirms that you’re worthy, beautiful, and above all, courageous.

I’m here for you. You’ve got this. You’re going to be okay.

In the end, you’ll survive and look back at this as another opportunity for growth; a way to find yourself again; the strong soul that you possess and which allows you to battle anything that stands in your way.

Repeat after me, “Bring it!”

Food for thought, ladies. Food for thought.

How much of a fighter are you?

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46 thoughts on “What can you do when your marriage is over?

  1. Powerful post, Bella! So much to reflect on….It’s amazing how resilient the human spirit can be. It’s often our anticipation of things that might happen that floors us, rather than the current situation. Your friend is lucky to have wonderfully wise you in her corner. I wish her plenty of strength and self-belief.

    • Corinne, you’re right, it is the anticipation of things to come. I agree with you, the human spirit is indeed resilient. Thank God for that! And thank you for your kind words! :)

  2. THIS was a GREAT post!! I am so e-mail forwarding this to so many ppl that need to hear these words. AMAZING xoxoxo we bitches gotta stick together and help pick eachother up. She may have been knocked down but you’ll be there to offer your hand!

  3. Good Morning Bella -

    I have many serious thoughts on this matter of divorce and again, as usual, I love your new post.

    Without being long-winded, I want to leave you with my summation question. Don’t you think that it’s much easier for people to get a divorce, than to put in the effort to work it all out? As a society, when it comes to relationships, the softer and easier answer is to simply quit. Sad but much truth in my statement. Happy Tuesday to you and all your readers. :)

    http://charlienitric.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/honey-i-want-a-divorce/

    • Charlie, if a spouse is determined to exit the marriage and is unwilling to work things out, I don’t think I would bother. Seriously, life is too short to spend on lost causes. But if there is a slim chance that a marriage can be set back on track, then by all means both partners should give it a go. I don’t belive in doing this only for the sake of the children, appearances or our family. Instead, it should be done because both people in the marriage want to salvage what they have or what is left.

    • Abby, twenty one years…I can’t believe it either. It’s a very difficult situation, but one I’m sure she’ll get through. It would surprise you what we’re capable of when we’re up against the wall. Thank you for commenting! :)

  4. So what if the woman asks for a divorce? Would be great if this was supportive of anyone (women or men) in a broken marriage. It doesn’t need to be one sex vs the other.

    “I’m your cut man and I’m in your corner, bitch.”
    Repeat after me, “Bring it!”

    What?! Where’s this coming from?

    • Jeremy, I part from the premise that women work through their troubles by talking about them; it’s how the majority of us vent. Because my audience is composed mostly of women, I address issues that have an impact on my gender and yes, while there may be men who call their buddies to discuss a pending divorce, somehow I don’t see males having the same reaction. At least, not at the same level. I don’t know if when you came across my blog, you read the title which is “One Sister’s Rant” and that’s what “I’m your cut man…” is about. It’s my way of ranting, of venting, call it what you will. We chicks call it solidarity, bonding, sisterhood. In a nutshell, it’s a chick thing. I don’t expect you to get it. Any other questions?

  5. Bella, I am sure your friend is very happy to have you to listen.

    Sometimes advice is the last thing we need when we are going through difficult times. It usually comes from a good place, but it can overwhelm when a wound is fresh.

    When someone undergoes a physical trauma, they have to heal before they can start rehabilitating.

    Emotional trauma seems to be the same. We just need to purge the sadness and have someone there for us before we start processing and acting on all the advice that will inevitably come.

    I guess that makes you a healer. :)

    • Amber, you are sweet, girl. You know that? Thank you for your kind commments. I agree with you–sometimes all we want is someone to listen. Not to fix things, or give advice, or judge–just listen. I’m glad you get it! :)

  6. Bella, you did a great job listening to your friend and that’s exactly it… we just need a cheerleader in our corner reminding us of the power we have in ourselves. I absolutely believe in marriage, but my dad left my mom when I was just two. She didn’t marry again. And guess what? My childhood was great. She worked hard and taught us to work hard, and I have very happy memories. When and if your friends worries about her kids, you just remind her they will be fine, too.

    • Lori, how insightful! I will surely pass it along! Isn’t it great to have good memories about childhood–especially when you acknowledge the sacrifices your parents make? Someday I hope my own children will feel just like you! :)

  7. Bless her heart. One of my best friend’s is not the warm and fuzzy type either. However, she was my go to girl when my heart was breaking from an ex finacee’ cheating on me. She didn’t have to say anything, just being able to cry to her was enough. I’m glad that you figured it out, that she just needed to be heard. You can’t pull a rabbit out of your hat to fix her, the marriage or point her in the right direction. Yet, sometimes an ear is all a woman needs.

    • Bernie, spot on, like always! You are a sage, woman! I’m glad you agree that sometimes all a woman needs is someone to listen. :)

  8. Bella,
    Your friend absolutely called the right person. She needed to be heard. When we are so unprepared to truly listen to the things that we need to be doing, all we need to do is vent and be heard. When she has said enough, and hurt enough and seen enough of the strength she has within she will slow her talking. She will ache to listen, and I hope she turns back to you then too. Save this post for her and whisper this belief over and over. She is enough…she has strength….and she has a beautiful friend in you. Truly fabulous post!!

    MMF

    • Meagan, I am so pleased you like the post–tickled pink, actually! I will indeed do what you recommend and hopefully, in time, she will be the one who’s ready to listen. Thank you for your kind comments!

  9. Your response to Jeremy (above) tells me why she called you. She needed to let your strength infuse her since her reserves were low. And…to make her laugh. Or at least smile. You have sooO many gifts, dear Bella. Those are just two of your most obvious. Always a pleasure to visit your blog.

    • Brynne, it’s funny you mention that because in spite of all the grief, our conversation did end in a giggle or two. It’s always helpful to try to infuse a little good humor into every situation, don’t you think? :) Thank you for your ever kind words, Brynne!

  10. All I can say is ….CHANGE sucks. But every time I have been through a difficult change, it has made me happier in the end.

    This quote made me think of you, Bella!
    “Laugh at yourself, but don’t ever aim your doubt at yourself. Be bold. When you embark for strange places, don’t leave any of yourself safely on shore. Have the nerve to go into unexplored territory.”
    Alan Alda

    • Georgia, what a fantastic quote, and even more fantastic, that you actually think of me in that light! You are beautiful! Thank you! :)

  11. ‘Tis a wonderful post, Miss Bella. You were the woman to have in a corner ( I am only supposing this based on your heartfelt words and your passionate view of the world that I have gleaned from reading you words in the few short weeks since finding you.) You are right, your friend will be OK, better than OK, somewhere in the darkest hour, on the blackest night, she will rise and find the strength she never knew she had. Woman are damn strong, we are very much princess warriors. I know this sounds funny, but stop, inventory your life…. are you listing all the moments you found the strength, the power, some crazy unexplained reserve to get up, keep breathing, and start over and reinvent? See what I mean? I don’t really know you, but i kind of think you are the kind of person I would want to call as your friend did. And to your friend.. Big hugs!

    • Brenda, I’m pleased you like it! Thank you for your vote of confidence! You know, I’m all for female empowerment. The victim mentality and I don’t get along. I like to emphasize female strength, because we all possess it, even when we think we don’t. You’re right, we’re all warroir princesses! Absolutely! And for the record, I’d want you in my corner too! :)

    • Monica, I remember reading your Rocky Balboa post when I first started reading your blog and I was blown away by it! Fantastic! Please include a link so the rest of the readers can check it out as well! It’s phenomenal! I’ve already told her about my post and I’m waiting for her reaction and I think it would be great if she could read yours because it’s so inspirational. And don’t you agree, Monica? Can’t we all find our way home, even when we feel there’s no light at the end of the tunnel? It’s in our DNA to be fighters. We’re women! :)

  12. Bella, your friend called you precisely for the reasons you’ve stated: because you’re a friend who is there to listen. Not counsel or advise but listen. Sometimes that’s all we need: a good friend who simply cares. Now I know who to call in time of need – you!

  13. Bella, while I was reading your post (toward the end), all I could hear in my head was the lyrics to that Chumbawamba song — “I get knocked down, but I get up again.” I couldn’t tell you what the rest of the words are. But, sometimes we do need someone to remind us of the strength we’ve forgotten we possess. I’m glad you could be there for your friend.

    • Kenya, now you have me “Googling” for those lyrics! hee hee! I think we all possess that strength. We just have to tap into it! :)

  14. Really moving post Bella. My parents got divorced a couple of years (after my Dad asked for a divorce) and even as an adult myself I was completely crushed that their seemingly perfect relationship had ended. The most amazing thing to come out of it was watching my mum re-invert herself into a new woman, stronger, more relaxed about life, finally having the freedom to do all the things she wanted to do but perhaps felt unable to do in her marriage. Your friend will have low points but in time will grow stronger and stronger. From experience there really is nothing you can do or say to take the pain away but just being there is the most important thing. As for true love exisiting, who knows? As long as you are 100% happy with who you are and that people close around you complement that happiness you are on the right course.

    • Thank you for your insightful comment! I’m so glad your mom found herself again! You know, the majority of us women tend to lose ourselves a bit as we struggle to be the best wives, the best homemakers, the best mothers. And like you mention, sometimes it takes a life altering event to rediscover who we are. It’s sad that sometimes pain and grief are part of the process, but I say that if it leads me to a better me, then it’s worth it!

  15. Beautiful post, Bella. I’ve been divorced a long time. When it first came down the pike, I wasn’t sure I’d survive. Yet here I am, in a life I never would have envisioned but is right for me. Life is so funny. And good for you, for knowing exactly what your friend needed.

    • And good for you for getting through your own ordeal, lady! :) I bet you you’re stronger for it! I love it when circumstances force us to give it our all and we prevail! :)

  16. I’ve missed so many of your great posts B and I will hopefully catch up on all but this one particularly struck a chord coz a very dear friend went through a really bad phase when she discovered her husband of two years was already married and had been two timing her in – seems like an story befitting a movie coz really no one would wish this even on an enemy ….
    Its been one of the toughest conversations I’ve had with her when she finally told me everything becoz I was stumped , you cant tell someone things will be alright when you know they won’t be .. you can’t console but yes you can believe in them and be there for them !!
    My heart still aches for her and her lil boy but she’s a fighter ..

    • Priya! You’re back! Great! I almost emailed you this morning to see where you had gone off to! I’m so sorry about your friend’s situation. My goodness, that sounds like the most heartbreaking thing ever, especially when there’s a child involved. I hope she gets through it! As for you, welcome back! :)

  17. Your works do give me some light! I was told the other day after 30 years of marrage that he hasn’t loved me for a long time. He wants out, now acts like he never said that… don’t know what to do now.

    • Robin, hello and welcome! I’m so sorry to read about your current marital troubles. We’re always devastated when a spouse confesses to not loving us anymore. However, I’m from the school of thought that you can’t make someone love you–they either do, or they don’t. It’s best you find out now when you can still move on with your life and find someone worthy of you. Or not. I spent ten years alone after my divorce. They were the best years of my life. Keep the faith, lady. It may not seem like this now, but things get better eventually. Good luck! :)

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