Romancing the Stone

More than 10 years after the fact, I can tell the story of my marriage/divorce with succinct clarity. I got married to my husband when I was 33-years-old. He had been married before and told me that he was divorced because wife #1 had a jealousy problem.

In the marriage, I thought he just wanted a mindless side-kick to be with him for whatever HE wanted to do. He thought I was far to in-de-PEN-dent (pronounced slowly as if a four syllable curse word). A couple years into the marriage he announced that it was time to have kids. I said “no.”

Seven years into the marriage, his best friend came to me to tell me of my husband’s infidelities. All of a sudden I understood what had really happened with wife #1. <insert big a-ha laugh here> After some dithering and poor attempts to fix it, we divorced.

After a couple of years of patching myself up and finding meditation, I started dating. I had very good reasons why none of those worked out. Here are a few examples:

There was the guy that brought a gun to the date. No, I didn’t feel threatened at all but certainly was surprised when he pulled it out. He thought it was necessary because I lived in the big city and he’d come from a smaller suburb.

And there was the date who I went snow-shoeing with. When the outing lasted longer than expected, I knelt at the door of my home to greet my dog and say sorry for leaving him too long. The date had followed me up to the door and muttered behind me, “Never apologize to an animal.”

There was also the very dear friend with whom I was unable to have deep conversations.

After these forays into dating didn’t produce a life partner and I was age 45, I made what I thought was a pragmatic decision to have kids on my own. In the seven years since I’ve had kids I’ve had a few sparse and isolated dating attempts but have largely left love of that variety alone.

That’s my story – and a story I fully believe and makes sense to me. But recently I was talking with a dear friend going through heartbreak. As I sat and listened to my friend’s stories, I realized that it exposed a deep vein of cynicism about love that I wasn’t aware I held.

 The cynicism says – I’m not sure love is worth it. It also says that I have to do x, y, and z before I’ll be ready. And that its okay for other people to have partners but maybe not me.

Whoa. It’s like I’ve been hanging on to my story as if it’s a solid, accurate piece of truth and now I’m starting to suspect it’s a little more subjective than I previously realized. Maybe, just maybe, I didn’t find my partner after I divorced because I didn’t want to. Somehow my joy for what I have and the optimism that I’ve been clinging to have covered over some walls I’ve constructed.

One of my close friends always says she found her second husband and love of her life because she believed she was worthy of love. For me, and for many of us that have experienced failed relationships, I think we might need to believe something similar:

I am worthy of love. And the love I will find will be worth having.

One of my favorite quotes about healing comes from priest and author, Henri Nouwen. After experiencing a loss of a significant friendship, Nouwen sequestered himself for six months and wrote journal entries that became his book The Inner Voice of Love. Towards the end, he comes to realize:

“Your future depends on how you decide to remember your past.”

Henri Nouwen

That’s the problem with my story about my marriage and divorce. I am frequently grateful to my ex-husband for the events that put my on the path that I’m on. But it appears that I need to re-remember what else about love is worthwhile. That decision may change a lot about my future.

What do you think about love? Hopeful? Cynical? Do you think your personal story is rational or subjective or both?

For more posts like this – a little story-telling mixed with philosophy, please visit my personal blog at https://wynneleon.wordpress.com or follow me on Instagram @wynneleon

(featured photo from Pexels)


19 thoughts on “Romancing the Stone

  1. I can totally relate to your experiences with love. After 2 marriages, one to an alcoholic/drug addict, the second to a narcissistic man addicted to the film industry and getting a film made at any personal cost, including dragging us both through bankruptcy.

    I was an enabler, I own my part in those relationships. It has been 10 years since I divorced #2, and after years of rebuilding myself, my life and my credit, I feel I’m stepping into a better life I’m creating.

    Do I wish for love and companionship? Yes, but I’m wary of it too.

    I want to have it on my terms and to not accept whatever dregs he offers. I had zero self esteem back then, have worked very hard on developing a healthy sense of self, and also realize that men my age a) want younger women, and b) many are now damaged from their own life experiences, so it would be imperative that he also be on a path of self recovery and healing, otherwise we’re going to be facing too many unresolved issues, and I have no desire to become anyone’s therapist/nursemaid.

    I’m much more “selfish” now. I use quotes, because I used to think that healthy behavior was on the selfish side, but now I’m okay with owing that moniker too, if it gets handed out. Being more selfish means I’m not going to drop everything in my life to serve his needs or desires. It means I’m going to keep my plans for my life in place and not be put 2nd all the time. I lived for years with the carrot of promises being dangled in from of my nose, but never getting to taste it! Now I “buy and cook my own”, thank you very much! LOL!

    Nothing wrong with seeing the holes in our rafts, yes, they’re there, but to be expected, given what we’ve come through! Are they being patched and the raft being made more and more seaworthy? Yes, we’ve been working on that! Some people have more holes and others have less, they’re not a mark of shame, nor a signal that we’re less worthy. They simply occurred through the storms we’ve been through, but we’re working steadfastly to repair those holes!

    1. Wow, Tamara, you provide great perspective on healing! I don’t think holes are a mark of shame either or our experiences are for that matter. It’s all great fodder for self-awareness and growth!

  2. I love Tamara’s sharing and wisdom…wishful but wary. I get that.
    Your question Wynne — about love – hopeful or cynical – made me smile. It’s both! There are days when my adorable, kind-hearted partner of 4 decades drives me absolutely batty…and I wonder at how we’ve managed all these years with so many differences…but underneath the frustration sits admiration. He’s sentimental and kind, supportive and smart and 90% of the time, he puts me first. That’s what I wish for you – someone who will do the same for you, or close to it.
    You used the word ‘cherish’ in a post recently. Yes. Hold out for that person and know that in the ‘in between’ you won’t settle for less. xo❤

  3. Hi Wynne,
    Married 37 yrs (so far)… Hopeful and cynical. Hopeful I pass before her because I don’t know what I’d do without her in my day / life. Cynical because love (in a relationship) is so important, but we have absolutely no control over whether someone / anyone else continues to love us. We have to enjoy the current moments and be able to live with the fear it might suddenly end. The other person may change in their feelings or may simply die before you (accident or illness). I do think it (loving relationships) start with (at least) two foundations: 1) you must love and respect yourself and your core values; and, you must be willing to be happy / willing to put the other person’s joy ahead of your own (as long as it doesn’t conflict with (1).)

    Please take my “advice” with a grain of salt:
    “For love is such a mystery,
    I cannot find it out.
    And when I think it’s best resolved,
    I then am most in doubt.”

    By the way, your posts come to me via email and they never have a “like” button. I’m (usually) too lazy to go to your site and log in just to post a comment. I think you’d get more positive feedback with a “like”. But, it’s up to you…

    Namaste,
    kmabarrett

    1. Wow, 37 – that’s wonderful. I like your foundations for love – they are sound and solid and it’s no wonder you’ve had such a long and lovely marriage.

      I appreciate your comment about the like button. Apparently with WordPress business customers they know this is a bug but don’t have an ETA on when they’ll fix it. I really appreciate that feedback. And thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. Be hopeful. After a failed 25 year marriage and a relationship with a man who lived two separate lives I thought I didn’t need romantic love. I dated a bit but always choosing men that would never be long term for various reasons. Then I admitted to myself what I was doing and that I wanted true romantic love. Within weeks I met my partner and I’ve never been happier. We’re only two months in but it feels real and genuine and we’re both looking at it in the long term. It’s out there whenever you’re ready x

    1. Wow, Cathy – that is a great story. I mean terrible about your marriage but I love how you stepped up to find that true romantic love. So inspiring – thank you!!

  5. After my share of failed marriages (2 husbands, 3 marriages)—2 to the same guy, in case you’re confused, I’ve called it quits and have set about the business of learning to love myself. I appreciate my former spouses for the lessons they brought, and the growth that came as a result. It wasn’t a whole lot of fun at the time, but the blessing is that in the end, I am quite content with my own company and plan to spend the rest of my days enjoying it. As for the marrying the say guy twice, I don’t recommend it. (Some of us are slow learners). Thanks Wynne, for baring your soul, and to opening the door for others to do so.

  6. I think that love is the engine of the world! I admire you for the courage you had in sharing this piece of your life, and ultimately of yourself. Big hug my dear friend!

  7. I just started writing again, your post spoke to me. “In the marriage, I thought he was wanted a mindless side-kick to be with him for whatever He wanted to do.” Wow that hit me like a ton of bricks. I didn’t realize I was the only one who felt this way. Thank you, I can’t wait to read more.

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