From a man on coping with divorce:
I wasn’t a great husband, but I wasn’t a horrible one. I love her with all my heart and soul but couldn’t show it as much as she needed me to. Instead, I was, at times, mean spirited, uncaring, neglecting, even acting unloving. Did I do this intentionally? Yes, but not realizing the damage I was doing.
I was taught at an early age by my role models that a real man never cried, I’m crying as I write this. That to show a woman your love in any other way than “manly” was weak at best. I almost never took her feelings into account and sometimes left her figuratively by herself to deal with it.
She always told me ” love me hold me make me feel your love.” I saw that as nagging and didn’t see the problem that was to come. I always assumed she would love me forever and didn’t concern myself with it. She started her affair online a couple years ago with a much younger man. He told her everything I should have and more. She fell in love with him and started talking to him regularly. Then she asked me for a divorce. I cried all the time begging her to stay not understanding I was pushing her further away.
Then, I turned to God and cried out to him to change me, to make me the best person I could be. For me, my wife and my kids. Guess what, He did. I transformed in every way possible. Not by my own admission alone, everyone including my wife saw it. She had called off the divorce and we tried to work things out. We developed a really good friendship through it all, but she never regained her love for me.
I feel sad and alone. I keep my game face on in front of her mostly but I know I’m hurting. I now know how to love someone even though I know not all woman have the same needs.
You know what I love so much about this man? He has self-awareness and the guts to admit his faults and mistakes. I find that very rare in men and women going through a divorce.
It’s so easy to blame your spouse, say he or she was the problem, play the victim, and indulge in self-pity. Not judging, by the way. I did that for awhile. But this man is a real man. This man is owning up to his part in the demise of the marriage. I actually wish he was a little angrier that his wife cheated, and admit that it was devastating and beyond hurtful. Not taking sides, just saying that he should allow himself to be hurt by her cheating and leaving.
I think what happened to this man is very common, as in our generation, men really were taught not to be soft, not to cry, and not to show emotion. So he did the best he knew how to do in his marriage. And, even better, realizes what he could have done better. What that will do is set him up to find love in the future.
I’m sure it is very difficult to think about dating right now or falling in love again, but with an attitude like his, with his self-awareness and willingness to embrace God and work on himself, he’s a straight shot into another woman’s arms—in time.
I could also see the wife wanting to try again at some point. I see her relationship with the younger man as very challenging because of age and cultural differences. I’m not saying this man should wait for his wife to break up and come back to him, but if they stay friends, you just never know. I do think for now, he needs to move on.
I have the utmost respect for this letter, and think it takes an incredible amount of courage to adopt this attitude. My advice to him is to forgive himself and try not to dwell on what he could have done or how he could have acted. Instead, learn from it, love himself and build a life that makes him happy from this point on.
Best best wishes to this wonderful, insightful man.