How I Handled My Marriage Falling Apart


I think truth is a present we give to our relationships.

I got lost after my marriage fell apart.  I admit, I wrote copiously trying to figure out what went wrong and how I could mend what was broken.  With a broken heart, I looked back to the last few years, trying to piece together when we stopped connecting, communicating and being a couple.  I couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment when it all fell apart.  I could only see the strain of stress, work, life and disconnect building to the crescendo that was his sudden announcement that he didn’t want to do this (marriage) anymore which came seemingly out of nowhere.  He didn’t want to try to fix it.  He didn’t want to talk about it.  He didn’t want to discuss it.  With a gavel, he handed me his decision like a judge and nothing would change his mind.  There was nothing I could do, except to accept his choice.

I learned the hard way that one partner cannot make a partnership better without the input of the other and if the other person does not want to mend the relationship, change is unable to occur.  The only solution for me was to be kind, to continue to be myself and to work on me through the transition.

So I did.  I did my best to grow my inner self, to accept that he had left and to continue to assure my children that they were loved by both of their parents.  I instilled in my kids that even though the family unit was broken, there was still a family, albeit in a different form.  I didn’t speak badly about my husband and to his credit, he did not speak badly about me.  Perhaps because I am a hopeful romantic, I still saw the man I had fallen in love with, that little spark of HIM and whenever I was angry, I held onto the knowledge that I still knew him.  He gave me moments of recognition, heart to heart, from time to time and I held steadfast in that knowledge.

But after time, that spark of recognition got harder to find, until it was completely obliterated by his new persona.  I spent much time wondering how I could have loved him, how I could have given him the benefit of the doubt so many times and how I could have believed in him so thoroughly when this new persona was who he is now.  Could I have been so wrong?  So blinded by love?  Was he ever that man I thought I knew?  Because this new person bore little to no resemblance to the man I had given my heart and soul to in marriage so many years ago.

It was quite a jolt to my system to realize that it might have always been a farce.  I am still on the fence about him.  I doubt I will ever truly know what happened as he doesn’t share his feelings.  I tried to get him to open up when it first happened, but he refused.  Sure, I have my own theories on this break, but they remain private.  Now, I don’t feel like it’s my place to ask anymore after so much time.  It pains me to see how disconnected he’s become, but it also gives me solace to know that he has disconnected from many people, not just me.

I feel sad for him, but I also allow his free will and accept what I previously felt was unacceptable behavior.  We are separate beings and we are responsible for our own choices and life paths.  When he didn’t give our children any Christmas gifts this year until days after, even though he saw them on Christmas, I comforted my children because that was all I could do.  I watched as their hearts broke and their minds teemed with not understanding how their dad could give other people presents on Christmas, but not them.  I witnessed their hurt, allowed them to vent and held them with love.  I didn’t defend him anymore as I had done for the past almost 3 years since we’ve been separated.  I allowed his actions, or better said, inactions, to be felt and processed as best we could.

I remember in the beginning when we were all shocked and dismayed by his leaving that my elder child said, “You defend him,” when they were hurting by something that he had done.  My reply was, “I don’t defend him.  I protect you.”  Truthfully, I was defending him, but I was also protecting my children because they were so hurt and the pain was so fresh for us all.  Now, I don’t defend.  I continue to protect, yet I also allow facts to show through as they are older, wiser and they now see the reality of what’s been going on.

Because honestly, I want them to love their dad and I staunchly stand by that feeling.  Nobody is a perfect parent and we are all just doing our best with what we have at the time.  He’s not a bad guy.  I would never turn them against him because he needs his children as much as they need him.  They are willing to connect with him, to accept this new dad whom they don’t know, but they are also tethered to the dad who was such a big part of their lives that it pains them to try to accept this new disconnected man.  For that, I hurt so much, knowing I can’t make it better.  Then again, I look at it as it’s a lesson in human nature, in acceptance of all people and a part of the process of growing up, when one realizes that parents are human, they make mistakes and they are not on a pedestal.

I’m blessed.  I have really great kids who are open, communicative and trusting when we talk.  Our relationship has been enriched by their dad’s leaving in a strange way.  I would have never chosen to have this situation in our lives, but I can see the benefits that have occurred because of it.

I remain Mom, head of household and comforter in good times and bad.  But the enrichment is the sharing and acceptance of feelings that flow freely in our home.  There is almost nothing that cannot be discussed.  My kids know that they can ask me anything and they can rely on the fact that I will answer truthfully, even when it’s uncomfortable.  I think truth is a present we give to our relationships.  There’s a peace in understanding and accepting what we deem good, bad, beautiful and ugly.  Rejoicing in celebrations of positivity and allowing for mistakes when they happen is a part of growing up to be good people.  That’s my goal.  To raise kind, loving, accepting, successful, communicative people for this world who are happy, peaceful and grateful, who don’t shy away from work, but who know how to enjoy the present moment, who work towards goals and are not afraid of hard work as they know that there is a huge benefit to a job well done (no matter how small) with integrity, honesty and thoroughness and who strive to be the best people they can be.

If you’ve gone through this type of situation, how were you able to handle it?  Do you have any suggestions to share that may help?



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4 Responses to How I Handled My Marriage Falling Apart

  1. Have you read “Runaway Husbands’ by Vikki Stark? There’s a website too. Sounds a lot like what my (and your) ex-husband did and continues to do. #bebrave


  2. I am so impressed with your ability to take the high road with such strong clarity, kindness, and strength. Your heart is huge!


    • janieleeds says:

      Thank you. I tried really hard and I had some amazing friends who let me vent safely and held me as I mourned. I tried to keep my kids in the forefront of my mind though and that helped a lot.


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