I decided that I’d take a break from talking about sex addiction and betrayal directly this week. But I am going to be sharing with you a little bit more of my story. So, in the end, maybe not so much.
You know one of the reasons I stayed so long and tried so hard and kept going back so many times was because it was my third marriage. And I didn’t want to be the woman who had been divorced three times by the age of 45.
That was not the life that I had envisioned for myself when I was a little girl.
I envisioned writing my online dating profile and feared that “thrice-divorced single mother of three” would not be met with warm reception. I joked that, “at least I own my house.”
I used to do that a lot; especially, during small talk at work meetings. I would make self-deprecating jokes about how many times I had been married or how many times I’d changed my last name (five). I was trying to address the proverbial elephant in the room that I feared that everyone was thinking about any way. It made me laugh and eased their tension.
Being divorced three times can make some people uncomfortable and there is still a great deal of societal judgement about it. I always think about the scene in Walk the Line when poor June Carter (played by Reese Witherspoon) is told by that “Christian” woman that “divorce is an abomination.” And she is destroyed.
Why do we have such disdain and judgement for divorce? I get that it is not the outcome that anyone wants and maybe we are too quick to use it as an “easy” button. But that was certainly not sure in the case of my third marriage.
The first two…I think will take most of the blame for those, which probably isn’t being fair to myself, but I was walking around with some pretty significant undiagnosed trauma and, you know, hurt people hurt and all.
Not to make excuses but looking back with my now 48-year old, trauma-informed, sober eyes, I know that it is a miracle that I coped as well as I did. Also, I have made my amends.
Also, I want to point out that our views on marriage and divorce have swung to the polar opposite – especially in terms of betrayal and affairs. I have sat in many women’s groups where we were all partners or ex-partners of sex addicts and agreed that there can be as much shame for choosing to stay as there used to be leaving.
But I think that the shame and the judgment for more than two divorces is still very real. And I’d like to challenge ourselves to ask why? I don’t think that most people who got divorced did so because they weren’t “Christian” or didn’t take the commitment seriously enough or were just quitters. That has not been the case with any one I have ever talked to about their divorce.
Divorces are hard (end expensive) and I believe that very few people take the decision to end their marriage so lightly. There’s no need to flood my inbox with contradictory stories as I am sure they do exist.
In my story, however, my own fear/shame/judgement regarding a third divorce and the fear of being judged by other kept me in a marriage that was TRAUMATIZING to me way longer than I wish it had.
I was also afraid that I would never find love again. I feared that I would never allow myself to even WANT to get married again.
Thanks heavens, I did eventually work up the courage to do all of those things. And to write an online dating profile that was met with warm reception and led me to my husband.
It also leads me to such a great story!
I was at the nail salon getting my mani/pedi for our wedding. As the woman was painting my nails, I told her that I was getting them done for my wedding. She was so excited and congratulatory and then I braced myself for the inevitable, which she asked,” Is this your first time?” I calmly replied, “No, this will be my fourth.”
I left the pause where I would have made the self-deprecating joke to ease the tension, because I love myself way too much to do that anymore.
The woman looked at me with wide eyes and a big smile and exclaimed, “You are so lucky! I haven’t ever even been married once!” From her perspective, I was lucky to have found love so many times.
Her response made me laugh and a pretty big sliver of that my own self-judgement slipped away. Of course, she’s totally right. I AM SO LUCKY.