It’s been twenty-one years since I committed myself to a marriage and raising a family. I know now, that I had no idea what I was letting myself into and the idealistic vows I made, originated from an earnest desire to be a loving wife to my husband and a dedicated mother to my children.
Although written in my own words, the vows were along the usual lines where we solemnly promise “to love, respect and honor, for better or worse.” When I said those words at the wedding ceremony, I believed in them with such conviction that I never doubted my grasp of their full implication.
Filled with love, armed with goodwill and driven by the best intentions, I set out to make that better life for us. Yes, I believed I could make both of our dreams come true if I loved deeply enough and worked hard enough at it. Oddly, I actually considered our marriage to be a success in the beginning, but as life threw its curveballs at us, it became harder to rise to the challenges.
It was magnificently for the better at times and rewarding on many occasions but often challenging and sometimes, even terrifying to have to learn how to live closely with another human being. Intending to have a happy marriage is one thing – realizing it is another matter altogether. Nonetheless, I was married and going to make it work, come hell or high water.
As we were being grinded in the mill of life, working diligently to maintain financial security, making the right kind of decisions around raising our children in the best way possible, sacrificing dreams for the sake of the marriage and keeping our eyes on the ball at all cost, things fell apart.
For better sadly became for worse…
We were no longer filled with love as loneliness took its place. Our goodwill became bitter resentment and our best intentions were regarded with suspicion. By then, we were driven by anger and pain filled us with fear, which in turn robbed us of reason. Tragically, we forgot how to love each other and withdrew deeper into our own safe spaces. Our mistakes justified the disrespect we harbored for one another as we diligently destroyed all that was honorable.
It was on one particularly miserable day, feeling utterly desperate about my life, that I realized the true meaning of those vows I took so many years ago: I promised to love my husband when our lives were for the better and also when things went for the worse. I promised to respect my spouse even when life was at its worst and I vowed to honor my partner regardless of how good or bad things were. I never said anything about expecting to get it back in return.
Every marriage has its ups and downs and life might bring us few or many challenges to overcome, but the worst possible thing that could happen to our marriage is for it to come to an end. The worst thing about a marriage is when we no longer want to be married but choose to get divorced.
When that happens, we should really keep our promise to love, respect and honor each other. Unfortunately, when the marriage is over we seem to think that those vows are no longer relevant, but here’s the thing: they are more important and necessary during divorce than ever before!
Whatever the reason(s) for divorce, I realized that we have to respect the other person’s choices and actions, even though we might be terribly hurt by it. This is not to say that feeling hurt or betrayed is not warranted, but respecting someone’s position and circumstances which lead to those choices and actions, brings new perspectives to our own pain. For example, if my spouse fell in love with someone else and had an affair, I have to respect them and whatever they were going through at the time just as much as I would appreciate their respect if it were me.