I never hear Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart” that I don’t think of the way my marriage ended. I have my own version, with one word changed…
“Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack, I went out for a Coke and I never went back. Like a river that don’t know where it’s flowing, I took a wrong turn and I just kept going…”
I didn’t want a divorce; I wanted my marriage to work no matter what the cost. Or, so I thought at the time.
I invested years trying to keep the marriage humming along. In the end, I discovered that it takes two people who are willing to invest energy and effort. According to my former husband, “it just wasn’t worth his energy or effort.”
I think I’d still be married if I hadn’t one day sent him a loud and clear message that it was time for him to start participating in the relationship. It was time for me to start getting a return on my investment.
As it turns out I had been investing in “Castles in the Sky” as they say on Wall Street. There were to be no future increases in the price of a stock (my marriage) that was extremely overvalued.
He took in my message; it was received, processed and immediately rejected.
He looked at me, picked up his car keys and said, “I’m going for a Coke.” That was it. The end. He went out for a Coke and never came back. The man took a wrong turn and just kept going.
That is when I started the “what if” thinking and second-guessing of myself and the marriage. I wanted to do my marriage over again, yet do it better the next time around.
I wanted the chance to do it differently. I wasted a lot of time looking back wishing I could change the past instead of looking at what might come next.
One day out of the blue, I realized I had to be honest with myself. I didn’t have any control over whether or not my marriage was over, but I could do things differently regardless of whether there was a marriage or not. I had to start with what I had control over, like how I chose to live my life and take each day and make the most of it.
Here’s how I survived an unwanted divorce; maybe these ideas can help you, too.
1. I learned to approach each day as a new day.
I no longer wanted to spend a day angry over what had happened in the past or beating myself up for mistakes I’d made. If I was lucky, the new day would be a day in which progress in my healing would take place.
2. I learned to let go of my anger at my former husband.
Hey, I had mistaken defective for exotic. It wasn’t his fault that I hadn’t paid more attention before attaching myself to him. He is who he is; my anger wasn’t going to change that and it wasn’t going to take me where I wanted to go, so the anger had to go.
3. I tried not to allow expectations to get in the way of my happiness.
I might not always get what I want or think I should have. That doesn’t mean there isn’t something out there just as good, if not better than what I thought I wanted.
4. Rational thinking isn’t so easily applied when you’re dealing with the irrational!
I didn’t want to waste any more time trying to figure out, manage or predict what was going to happen. Understand why he left, worry over what I would do now, attempt to make nice with him. Let’s face it, divorce is an irrational process and you need to keep your wits about you.
5. I realized that men are different from women!
This is a big one. Men don’t think and process ideas and emotions women, and if you wait around for them to “get a clue,” you’re in for a long wait. This revelation, coupled with lowering my expectations, enabled me to develop a deeper appreciation for what some men have to offer.
I’ve even found a few men out there who made me glad my former husband went out for a Coke and never came back.
A version of this article first appeared on EmpoweredDivorcee.com