In exhibit A, the husband often comes home to a very depressed wife : she naps often, the house is unkept, dishes are in sink, dinner is not made, kids are running amok. She is bringing him down. After months or years of this, he asks for a divorce.
In exhibit B, the husband comes home from work to the same scenario, only before he can suggest counseling, she announces she is in love with her coworker, who is also married. They have found each other and they are truly soulmates. He is blindsided, but now has an answer to the cause of her condition.
In exhibit C, the wife has filed domestic abuse charges. Her spouse is controlling and belittling. He spends a few nights in jail after roughing her up, and she begins the divorce process. She has a court ordered restraining order. He fights back in court because he wants custody of their daughter. He starts a smear campaign.
In exhibit D, the wife notes her alcoholic husband, who is highly functional at work — enough to keep a job and bring home a regular paycheck– has a shorter and shorter fuse at home. He misses an anniversary, gets physically violent with her or the children. She avoids a “restraint order” for the sake of a quick resolution. She pulls them into counseling. What can be fixed? He becomes angrier, abusive, punishing her for publicly embarrassing him (in private counseling). After two years of his stonewalling, she walks away, confused and hurt.
In exhibit E, a famous movie star gets cheated on by her spouse. He chooses a tattoo artist to cheat on his beautiful, world famous wife. Why? Who knows? Her reaction is lightening swift, however. Within a week, the star has moved out of their shared home and has already begun her new life in another location.
In every exhibit, one spouse is acting out his or her own hidden pain. The other spouse is hurt, blindsided, confused, perhaps afraid. Things unravel, things are said, and it is over. “I thought he/she was the one,” is often said, “But now, I do not know who this person is!” Confusion, chaos, deceit, lies, cheating, stealing, physical injury….experienced by the one who made themselves vulnerable in the early days of the relationship. Or on the other end of the spectrum : depression, lethargy, anxiety, apathy sets in…a family crises …and no amount of flowers delivered will make it better.
Every divorce causes endless pain and needless suffering, and affects many, many people. These scenarios lead to a variety of unbearable outcomes. Kids are stunned, adult siblings are angered, hurt, bitter about the breakup. Isn’t there something that can be done? No. It’s over. Each divorce is hard to talk about, especially with well-meaning married friends. No one enters a marriage wanting a divorce.
Depending on the level of conflict involved, the fallout can be so major that ones judgement can be impaired for a time. Lives implode like the Twin Towers. Family and friends can be patient, listen and acknowledge the pain. Encourage those with a broken heart to be cautious in making decisions. Because each divorce is unique.