The Choice To Divorce Was Mine
The decision to get married was mutual, but the one to divorce was all mine.
I got married mainly because I got pregnant. I would never have married that person otherwise, and I tried to avoid marrying him, in all honesty. I told him I wouldn’t marry him just because he got me pregnant, and I turned him down a few times before I gave in.
Why did I give in? Good question.
I gave in because I thought it was the right thing to do. My father wasn’t speaking to me because I was pregnant and not planning to marry the father. My grandmother thought that the right thing to do was make sure my child got the chance to get to know his or her father, and marriage was the way to do that.
I gave in because his persistence in asking me made me think that he really did love me. In fairness, he probably did love me as much as a person like him is capable of loving someone other than himself.
I gave in, but even as I did, I knew two things:
- I believed marriage was a forever commitment.
- I knew that the marriage wasn’t going to last forever.
A small part of me knew that I wouldn’t be married to him for the rest of my life, but I went through with it anyway.
And that’s why the decision to divorce was all mine and he got no say.
After not quite three years of marriage, I was pregnant with child #2 (this time, a deliberate choice) when I took an honest look at what we had.
He was repeatedly, prolifically, and unapologetically unfaithful. Well, not entirely unapologetic — it was just that his apologies were more along the lines of “I’m sorry I got caught” rather than “I’m sorry I cheated.”
He was a neglectful, impatient and uninvolved father. A lazy and uncaring husband. His only real redeeming quality, and probably the reason that I waited so long to admit our marriage was a long-failed experiment, was that he did have a fairly decent job that paid the bills. I was a stay-at-home mom and even setting aside the idea of going back to work, having no access to my own money made leaving difficult.
He was abusive in ways that I won’t go into. The final straw came when he told my son that he didn’t have to listen to me because I didn’t know what I was talking about — and then grabbed hold of me and nearly shoved me into a wall at six months pregnant because I dared to defy him.
It wasn’t the first time I’d defied him. We fought often — and loudly. There were never calm discussions in my marriage. Anything that we didn’t agree on simply turned into an emotional, loud argument, filled with name calling, cursing, and on his side, occasional threats.
So on that night, when he undermined me as a parent and showed no regard for the fact that I was pregnant, I looked at the history of our marriage and I knew that it was over.
I asked him to leave. I’d thrown my wedding ring into the front yard as the sun was setting, and later felt guilty because my mother went hunting for that ring, thinking I might change my mind and want it back. (Side note: I later felt glad that she found it because I was able to sell it for $30 when money got really desperate a few years later.)
When I agreed to marry him, I spent the next several weeks between saying yes and the wedding, filled with doubts and somehow knowing it was a mistake. I was filled with doubts. My stomach would churn, and I knew that what I was doing went against what I believed — that I was agreeing to a marriage that wouldn’t last, despite knowing that I wanted my marriage to be forever. I was ignoring my desires, my chance at happiness, to do something that would make someone else happy.
When I decided to divorce him, I felt no such doubts. I was confident, certain, and never once looked back. I took advantage of an opportunity to divorce him when he was in no position to fight me on it. I pushed hard, and cut a process that usually takes six months to a year in our state down to two and a half months.
I can’t say that I regret my marriage, because my second child came from it and I’m not sure he would exist had my ex-husband and I continued to only live together.
I don’t regret my divorce at all. It made my life more difficult in a lot of ways, but staying married to a man for whom I felt no love, who made me miserable and scared me, would not have been any less difficult.
And if I’d stayed, I wouldn’t be where I am now. Where I am now is in a new relationship, one that is much healthier. No relationship is perfect, and this one is no exception.
I sometimes look at parts of our relationship, like our parenting styles or how we feel about certain major issues, and wonder how we’ll manage them. We’ll have disagreements but we have yet to yell and scream at each other, call each other names or make threats.
But here’s the kicker: just as I once knew that my marriage wouldn’t last, that same small part of me that knew it wouldn’t last now whispers to me that this relationship will. That same small part nudges me and tells me that this man is in it for the long haul, and that his love for me is as real as mine is for him.
And that makes me so glad that I singlehandedly made the decision to end my marriage.