Susan was with her husband for 22 years and separated five years ago at the of age 47. Her husband battled combat PTSD from Vietnam and brain injuries following car accidents in 2000 and 2003. Clearly, the marriage had had it difficulties and stresses for a number of years and Susan started to recognize it was an unhealthy marriage. So what was it that made Susan say enough? Was there a specific event that made it clear to Susan it was time to end the marriage? Here’s Susan:
There was. My mom died and within a couple of days, my husband and I were sitting at the table, talking.
My mom had had poor health all her life but her death was sudden. It was a heart thing, unexpected. Somebody in their right mind probably would have been more prepared but I was in denial.
She had an apartment and my Dad had a house up in Leadville but they were married and they spent most of their time in the same house. Anyway, my dad’s way of handling the grief was to shut down the apartment right away. We really didn’t have to do it so quickly but that’s what he wanted. I can’t imagine now how we did it because she had a lot of stuff but we did.
So, I’m exhausted and my husband and I are sitting there talking. Then, he let’s go with this story that he was having, probably at that point, an emotional affair and a whole lot of basically unbelievable things. It was the timing of it I couldn’t believe.
“You couldn’t wait a week or two to bring this stuff up?”
“You have to do this the day before I’m going to pick up my mom’s ashes? You have to dump this on me now?”
I had seen before that whenever I was sick or hurt, those were the times in our relationship when he had chosen to go on the offensive. This was just a really extreme example of that and it was, the last straw.
I get that he has a head injury and all that stuff but why all of a sudden, was it all about him. It was not so much the other women as the timing of it.
“You can’t even for a minute make this not about you. Even though my mom died, it’s still all about you.”
I almost couldn’t believe it because that was one thing that was never really concern throughout our marriage. He wasn’t a philanderer type of person although I could see that our marriage had been in shambles for a long time and from my vantage point now, it wasn’t a huge surprise.
It was very, very difficult and for about a month we were going to try to reconcile but even then I knew,
“there’s just no fixing this because there’s nothing left to fix.”
The Divorce Coach Says
Some marriages seem to unravel quickly. Others, like Susan’s, take a while and for them, I’ve found there’s often a single moment, a catalytic event that brings everything into focus. It could be a single word that says divorce. It could be your spouse breaking a confidence. It could be a pregnancy. Sometimes, that catalytic event isn’t even dramatic, like coming home to a spouse dozing on the couch while in charge of the kids. In that moment, the answer to that question you keep asking yourself, screams at you and you finally listen.
I’ve talked to enough women about this now to know that when someone says to me they don’t know if they should end their marriage, the best answer I can give is,
“Don’t worry about because when the time is right, you will know.”
PS: Any thoughts on why Susan’s husband felt compelled to tell her about his affair, at the very time she most needed his support?