While I was going through my divorce, I found it difficult (as a man) to find resources to help me weather the storm. I ended up in a church group pretty far from where I lived. It wasn’t my preference but it was all I could find.
Disclaimer: I was raised Roman Catholic (I think that means we dip the bread of life into spaghetti sauce) but I consider myself simply a person of faith.There were a few things I learned and two primary things I took away from my experience with that group:
- I didn’t want to end up like some of those folks who still believed there was something they could do to win back their ex- (after 10 or even 20 years of divorce!), and
- An image that helped explain why it was so painful.
At one point in the 12-week series (can you say twelve steps?!), the leader shared an interesting concept with the group; she said, “When a man and a woman are single, they are two entities.” (She drew two small stick figures, a man and a woman.) “When they marry, they become one entity.” (She drew one larger stick figure.) “When a couple gets divorced, the ‘one’ is torn apart.” (She drew the larger stick figure broken in two.)
With that image, all of a sudden the loss and the pain made more sense. I understood why I felt so incomplete. In fact, there were still pieces of my ex-wife “in me” that I recognized were her and now I had a visual image that explained how we could be apart and I could still feel connected (weird, huh?).
I’ve since come to think and believe that, as much as the church’s position makes sense, there is more to the story.
I think when two people marry, instead of the two becoming one, the two become three. Each person remains their own entity and they create a third shared entity. If we truly became “one” (in all aspects), we would die when separated. Given the 50% divorce rate, there’d be a lot of dead ex-husbands or wives lying about.
Instead, I believe after marrying we each continue to be independent beings that create a third inter-dependent being. This “third person” becomes an extension of us.
When a divorce happens, the third person dies. The remaining partners are able to move on IF THEY CHOOSE TO (and one more than likely already has!) by focusing again (and exclusively) on their independent selves. If one tried to live as the third person, he is doomed. This is what I saw some of the folks in the group doing (and in truth, it was what I was trying to do): they were trying to believe the third person was still alive.
It is not easy to let go of the third person and focus entirely on our independent self again.
I’ve moved on and am happy with my life again. It took a lot of time and a lot of work. That’s my story. It didn’t have to be. It’s not everyone’s story.
If you are a man going through a divorce and looking for someone to talk to who won’t try to give you all the answers or tell you it will all be all right, feel free to give me a call or shoot me an e-mail. I’ve been there and I understand what you’re going through. It sucks plain and simple. And there’s no guarantee your result will be the same as anyone else’s.
Hang in there.
© 2006-2008 Paul K. McGinniss