Saturday, March 3, 2012

Too Poor to Divorce?

I loved my husband with a ferocity that sometimes rattled my soul. There was so much of him to love, oh, not in any NEGATIVE way. He was brilliant. He was funny. He was a comic genius. He was a singer. He was an actor. He could do absolutely ANYTHING that he wanted to do, he had virtually no limits beyond the normal physical limits of a 50 something man.

Now listening to the above words you might get the idea that our marriage was always smooth...never any friction between us. You would be very wrong in that assumption.

Nyle and I both had huge egos. We were both actors, youngest children in our families, and we both LOVED the spotlight. This caused many problems as we both reached for that nebulous spotlight of life.

To make matters worse we faced so many challenges that I heard a frequent reference that we were very much like Job of the Bible. It's REALLY hard when the chips are down to stay united, to spare each other anger, pain, and sorrow that are conjoined twins to stress and adversity.

We made the angry decision to divorce. We both felt that our relationship was toxic. We were ready to make a break and move on. We knew that it would be hard for our two lovely daughters but children are adaptable, right?

Nyle had worked in the "Family Law," field. That term is a euphemism for the "Break Up Family Law." I was delighted when Nyle left that post and got a job as Associate Dean of Career Services at a nearby law school.

So....Nyle called his former associate from his "Family Law" days to inquire about the process of getting a divorce. Imagine my shock and surprise when Nyle gave his recital of Fred's advice. "Fred told me that he was going to be brutally honest. Then he proceeded to say that "YOU CAN'T AFFORD A DIVORCE." Yes, I put those letter in caps on purpose. Please read on.

Fred said, "Split the house in two and each of you live in your half. Stay away from each other as much as you need to. Then he repeated the above words, "YOU CAN'T AFFORD A DIVORCE."

So...we did what he advised. We each took half of the house, and only came together when our children were around. The thing is, when we each had space and time on our own we remembered all the reasons why we fell in love in the first place.

We made the decision to go to couples counseling. Nyle told me that in an individual session with our therapist she said, "OK Nyle, do you want a divorce?" Nyle said that in that minute the realization came to him that if he divorced me he would NEVER have a wife that had known him in his youth, a wife that had born him children, a wife that was his youthful sweetheart." He answered in a loud and affirmative voice, "No, I don't want a divorce."

So...we learned, we studied with the help of a wise therapist. That's when we came to understand that when the storms of life had been battering us hard instead of uniting and pulling together we were splintering, and projecting our negative emotions on each other.

We also learned years later "There are things about each other that you will never be able to change. When you are in the marital relationship you have to take the entire package, not just the romanticized ideal."

Yesterday I spoke to a sweet friend who is going through a miserable divorce. I told her about Nyle and my experiences. She was so surprised. Seeing our relationship for the last four years she had NO CLUE that we had face such heated times in our marriage.

I share this post in the hopes that somebody else going through "changes and rearranges," that life inevitably brings to the marriage relationship will not just give up. Nyle shared some other advice with me in his "Family Law," days. I don't remember the source of this advice. "A mediocre marriage is far superior to a grand divorce."

Now that Nyle has made the mortal transition that all of us will make some day I am even more determined that there are only two reasons for divorce. #1. Abuse, sexual, physical, or emotional. #2. A partner that perceives that they have no problems...everyone else does, and they refuse to see any need to change or compromise in a relationship. It is simply IMPOSSIBLE to live with such a person.

Nyle and I had finally gotten much of our relationship right. We loved each other. Oh we still weren't perfect. Remember that whole idea above, "There are some things about each other that you will have to live with because they will never change."

Yet, how I miss him with every breath that I breathe. I would even be happy to go back to those hard times, just to see him, to hear him, to feel that particular energy that was only Nyle's.


  1. Dear CJ,

    Your post is very touching, and as a divorcee, it made me think again (I have thought about this many times over the past 20+ years) about the high cost of going through all that could lead to a divorce, and, what sadly for many ultimately leads to BEING divorced.

    I never would have guessed the struggles you and Nyle had gone through, but it goes to show that we do not carry signs on our foreheads declaring to the world what challenges we have overcome in life. You overcame big hurdles where many others would have failed, and your growth from that is obvious to all who know you - and knew Nyle.

    You are right that the cost of divorce is very high - higher than anybody could know unless they had gone though it themselves because it goes too deep. It is not just financial, but often debilitating emotional pain that can take years to overcome for all involved, including the spouses, the children AND the extended family. Even friends and co-workers are deeply affected when a couple divorce.

    You know my story well, so I am sure nothing I write will surprise you. I think I would want to add one more point to your two points list of "good" reasons for divorce: 3. adultery, which to me is the greatest dishonesty and betrayal in a marriage that I can think of. Sure, in a way it is emotional abuse, but it is much more than that. The feelings of betrayal is at a level that nobody should ever go though. Some people overcome adultery, patch up their marriage and go on to live long happy lives together; others are unable for various reasons to put the marriage back together.

    Something else about divorce that I have thought about many times is the additional loss that a "temple divorce" adds to Latter-day Saints who have expected to be with their sweetheart for time AND all eternity. It shakes your faith in yourself and life, and it either strengthens your faith in the Gospel as a Latter-day Saint or leaves you rattled to the core.

    Again, THANK YOU for opening up and sharing your experiences with this difficult topic. I am glad you and Nyle made it through and that you now have a love that will last for all eternities. :-) You are a blessed woman, and your two girls are blessed to have you and Nyle as their parents.

    Love and hugs from Portland! :-)

  2. CJ and Eva,

    Being on the other side of this, before it all happens for me, it is empowering to hear the wisdom of smart women who I trust, who know what it's like to really be married. Its also something special to get to know a little more about your lives. Thank you for sharing. I love you both.