I have three friends who went through terrible divorces. All three involved betrayal, deception and more pain than they ever expected. All three are good men who really value marriage and family. And now, years after the papers were signed and the furniture was sorted out, and they moved out into new places, the wounds and the pain are just as fresh, coloring the way they see each and every day, each and every woman who enters their lives.
We all start out in love believing that happy ever after is just a matter of finding the right person. We meet someone and make our plans with stars in our eyes and an unshakable belief that we have stumbled upon the magic -- true love stands before us. And ahead of us, years and years of building the home and family we've always imagined. We are vaguely aware that there will be hard times and disagreements, but we blissfully believe that our marriage will be different and that the disagreements will be few and brief, handled with logic and patience and followed by the sweet delight of making up.
For some people, the dream comes true. Oh, the disagreements might be a bit bigger than they expected, the hardships a bit harder, and the sleepless nights more frequent, but they are happy together. But for others of us, the dreams not only fail to materialize, they come crashing down on us like bricks, leaving us dazed and bruised and battered. Somehow we manage to crawl out from under the rubble, dust ourselves off and wander away, wondering exactly what happened.
The problem comes when we spend the years after the collapse sitting and looking at the demolished dream that was our marriage. People come by, and try to take our hand to lead us to a brighter, cleaner place far from the rubble, but we are too busy trying to reconstruct which brick went where and how the destruction began. Did we miss the cracks early on? Did we fail to see the leaks in the foundation? And the people go away. If we happen to wander away from the place temporarily, following someone's lead, we take some of the rubble with us, lest we forget for a moment what happened. Before long, we find ourselves back at the scene of the crash, back to reconstructing our memories and sorting though the pain.
We tell ourselves we are just trying to figure out what went wrong to avoid having it happen again, and that's good -- at first. But if we stay there as years go by, still searching for clues and sorting through memories, we're missing something important.
We're missing the chance to take what we've learned and build a new and better home for our dreams. More windows for letting in light, more doors for different opinions and new opportunities. A more solid foundation to withstand the tremors, a better roof to keep out the rain. More rooms to give ourselves and our partner more chances to spread out and explore our potential. Brighter colors. Softer cushions.
It's scary to walk away from that first (or second or third) collapse and risk building dreams again. But when it come down to spending the rest of our lives sitting alone with our broken dreams or using what we've learned to try and build again, do we really have any choice?