A few days ago, I celebrated what would have been my nineteenth wedding anniversary, which is the first anniversary I have celebrated since our divorce was finalized. It may seem odd that I celebrated something that, at first glance, seems like something to mourn or to overlook altogether, but just like most things, there is more than meets the eye. This was definitely a day to celebrate fully, and both my ex-husband and I did just that.
I got married after almost three years of dating a truly wonderful guy, and our wedding took place four days after I turned twenty-five years old and two weeks prior to his twenty-eighth birthday. It was a gorgeous day, and it was such a special day to have all of our family and friends gathered together to celebrate with us. I remember standing alone in the back of the church waiting for my Dad to come walk me down the aisle, and I thought to myself, “I feel like a lamb being led to slaughter”, which is something that the pre-cana classes and bridal magazines did not mention, so, I wasn’t sure where that was coming from or what it meant. Hindsight is 20/20, and while I could say that this was a warning sign that all was not well, I will not go that far. I married of my own freewill, and I married the right person at the right time. My former in-laws have been married almost 60 years, and my parents will celebrate 50 years of marriage this fall. We both have healthy role models for marriage, and we never thought we would ever divorce. A lot can change over the course of nearly eighteen years, though.
During eighteen years of marriage, we enjoyed the joys of buying our first home together, launching our respective careers, welcoming the much-anticipated arrivals of both of our extraordinary daughters, watching our girls grow, and a host of other good times as individuals, as a couple, and as a family. We also endured the hardships of five years of infertility treatment, my diagnosis of both ulcerative colitis and the early stage of cervical cancer, career challenges, and the slow six-year demise of our marriage. In both good times and in bad times, we both did our best, and in the end, we were two best friends who loved our girls and each other, but who could not get along as healthy, happy spouses. While our divorce stunned our family and friends, as we had not confided in many people at all about our years of marital discord, it was not a hastily made decision by any stretch of the imagination, and we both agree it was absolutely the best decision for us and for our daughters. Others may disagree with our decision, but the bottom line is that only two people know what our marriage was like and why we decided to end that marriage mutually and amicably, and those two people and the two people they love more than anyone else in the world all are happy, healthy, and thriving.
Divorce never is easy, but we both will say that if anyone can divorce better than we did, we challenge them to do so. We may not have been able to honor our wedding vows, but we have honored our promise to one another to put our daughters first and to love and support each other through this process, transition, and life post-divorce. Even as the rumors swirled around us, and my depression and anxiety enveloped me, we both held fast to the belief that if we hurt one another, it would, in turn, hurt our girls, which neither one of us ever would purposely do, and we still like and love each other and never have seen the need to turn this into a hostile situation. We honestly want the best for one another, and you NEVER will hear us say an unkind word about one another to each other or to anyone else for that matter. Some people have said that we have a better divorce than some people’s marriages, and I know that this is true indeed. I also know that, for us, this was the right decision, and I do not regret either our marriage or our divorce, as both were entered into for all the right reasons.
I fully understand that our situation is the exception, not the rule, which makes me really sad, as just like the diagnosis of cancer no longer means you’ve received a death sentence, divorce should not be equated with a contentious relationship with your ex-spouse and/or a custody battle over your child(ren). If you cannot make your marriage work, then make your divorce work for the sake of everyone involved. On on a regular basis, we hear from others who say that they never would even know we were divorced when they see us together in public or talk with us privately, as we get along well with one another, and our girls haven’t missed a beat along the way. When I had the heartbreaking task of altering the girls’ lives forever with the words, “Your Dad and I are getting a divorce”, I told them that even though all four of us would not be living together under the same roof, we would remain a family forever. Our oldest daughter likened it to when I moved out of my parents’ home, as I don’t live with them, but we still are a family and love one another. Last spring, I was driving the girls to school, and I noticed that a house that had been for sale for a very long time finally had sold. I commented how lucky the buyer was to have purchased their dream home, to which our oldest daughter replied, “No, Mom, we’re the lucky ones, because we have two dream homes now.” It made me even more grateful that while we may not have had a fairytale ending like we had hoped, we had kept it from turning into a living nightmare like we feared.
Even though our wedding anniversary is now an un-iversary, I have so many reasons to continue to mark that day with smiles and thanks, for I met and married my best friend and the absolute best Dad in the world for our daughters. I may not have a spouse any longer, but I still have a best friend and the most amazing ex-husband in the world. Recently, he kidded me about not getting “more ink” in my blog, so, Matt, consider this your un-iversary present. Thank you for nineteen incredible years, and here’s to many more! Who knows what will come next, but I am not afraid to find out and know we will handle it.
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story