I Divorced You Because I Love You – An honest open letter from a husband to his ex wife on how years of bonding lead to a lifelong friendship that extends beyond marriage and divorce.
“It was an honor to have you for 20 years. It will be my privilege to be a close friend for the rest of your life.”
Well, today our 20-year marriage ended in courtroom 2-D.
To be honest, it was surreal. When we came to this decision months ago, I felt like the world had ended. In truth, I was afraid of what life would look like now without you. But now, standing here, it seems much more survivable. I read a German proverb once that said, “Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is.” And I was truly afraid of life without you.
You have been the one constant person in my life for so long. In fact, longer than any other person on earth. You are the voice in my head. I owe you so much for these last 20 years. So I thought I’d let you know a few things on this first day of our new relationship. I know it’s weird writing this to you on this day, but life speeds by and there is simply no time to leave the right words unspoken.
So allow me to share a few of my thoughts and feelings from today with you…
You deserve an award for making it 20 years with a man like me.
“When two people decide to get a divorce, it isn’t a sign that they ‘don’t understand’ one another, but a sign that they have, at least, begun to.” – Helen Rowland
We both know I’m not easy to love. I’m beyond driven, don’t sleep much, make jokes in every situation, and you could always count on me to misbehave. I have taken more than my fair share of risks over our years together. That’s the problem with being married to a person who pursues dreams. You get dragged into adventures you never signed up for.
I realized too late that many of my dreams became nightmare situations for you. My passions have always driven me. And that my heart is all about pursuing new things and bold plans. In many ways, my life is like a room full of dynamite… and I sit in that room playing with matches far too often.
But hang in there… you were always ready with your southern charm and classy manners to correct my brash nature and follow me into another venture. I realize now that even though we had some real success, it took a toll on those I loved. For that, I am truly sorry.
Statistically, this was a good decision.
We both know that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce… but the other 50 percent end in DEATH! So we really dodged a bullet there.
You are an AWESOME mom.
Your kindness and love for our children is, perhaps, the single most beautiful thing about you. You will never fully know how much I studied your example while we raised these kiddos. You somehow breathe out love and they breathe it in.
I want you to be happy.
You deserve to be happy. Being married and also “in ministry” is often a nightmare. The pressures of having a good marriage make having an authentic one a real struggle. Honestly, I’m happy you don’t have to deal with that anymore. For me, I know this is what I must do with my life. But you deserve a much more peaceful life and I’m excited you get that.
For the record, I would have married you all over again… even if I knew it would end like this.
“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Yes, we have three amazing kids out of this, but even if there was no Chloe, Titus, and Silas… I still would have picked you. I’m a better and different person today because of you. I cannot imagine going through life without any real time with you.
You need to stay off WebMD.
Headaches are rarely brain cancer. I mean it. It’s SUPER rare! You can be stubborn and ornery. People like you live longer than everyone you know. Let death be a surprise when it arrives. Enjoy the many years you have in front of you.
You can’t get me to stop loving you.
I honestly tried to convince my heart to hate you for a while. It didn’t take. You’re just too good of a person. The one thing that surprised me about our separation was how easy it was to just be friends again. For us, that’s where “we” started.
And so I’m happy that that’s where we are ending. As great friends. I love that we still talk about our kids, life, plans, movies, music, and what a famous person died. It feels normal to me.
I’ll always be here to help you in any way you need.
I love that you’re going to school and exploring new avenues for your journey through life. I’m always going to be around in case you need help… because I’m a fan. Always will be.
“Success is its own reward, but failure is a great teacher too, and not to be feared.” – Sonia Sotomayor
If our divorce has taught me one thing it’s this: if I had known it was going to end after 20 years, I would have absolutely done more sit-ups.
Dating again is going to be interesting. But my friend signed me up for something called Grindr so I’m sure I’ll have a lot of dates soon.
I’m not stupid. I know a woman like you will not be alone long.
You are too easy to love. And I want you to know that I will be a fan of whomever you choose to love again. I will, no doubt, share embarrassing stories about you with them whenever I can. But that’s to be expected because I can be a real tool!
I guess that sums up most of it. I have thought about this day a lot as it approached. And all I knew was I wanted to end “us” well. Sounds stupid I guess… to want to end our marriage in a “good way”. But I keep thinking back to that old movie The Lion in Winter. When the sons, in the dungeon, think they hear Henry coming down the stairs to kill them.
Richard says, ”He’s here. He’ll get no satisfaction out of us. Don’t let him see you beg…Take it like a man!”
Geoffrey replied, “You fool! As if the way one falls down matters!”
Richard replied, “Well when the fall is all that’s left, it matters a great deal.”
It was an honor to have you for 20 years. It will be my privilege to be a close friend for the rest of your life.
So I will end this with a few words with from the great theologian Cyndi Lauper.
“If you’re lost you can look — and you will find me
Time after time
If you fall I will catch you —
I’ll be waiting
Time after time”
With all my heart,
Love exists outside the courtroom
“It always gets worse before it can get better. But it will get better. Like everything else, and like our past struggles, at some point, we win, but before that win, there’s always that loss that spurs us on.” – Dolores Huerta
Marriages are difficult. It goes through a lot of ups and downs and you try your best to navigate through life to keep your spouse happy and give them all the love they deserve. But sometimes a marriage ends up in an ugly divorce despite your best efforts. However, simply because you’ve had a few fights, agreed to get separated, and signed the divorce papers doesn’t mean all the love, connection, and memories from all these years of being married go away in an instant.
Even when you and your spouse don’t stay married any longer, the love remains although you might not choose to express it.
There’s no ideal way to end a relationship or to fall out of love. You can be official about it. But the matters of the heart can never be settled in the courtroom. It always remains in the looks and smiles. And sometimes the love and the connection stay for years even after the divorce is final.
There are many ways a marriage can fall apart. Even though you may still love your spouse, you may realize you’re incompatible with life partners after spending years together. But that doesn’t mean that we forget why we married them. That we forget why we loved them in the first place. Love requires we do what we need to make the other person happy. And sometimes that means letting them go.
Here’s a helpful video on getting through the end of a relationship and moving on from your ex-husband or ex wife:
Written by Michael Cheshire Originally appeared in The Goodmen Project