She was a young, pretty, bright, dedicated mom. Her smooth skin, slender figure, and lovely smile made her age difficult to discern. I surmised she was 30 something given that they had been married more than a dozen years. Despite her husband's multiple affairs, she was stunned by his declaration that he wanted her out of the family home and was filing for divorce.
"Was there more that I could have done?" she asked, as though she really thought I might have an answer.
For the optimist in an unhappy marriage, this is a question with no satisfying answer. For those who believe all things are possible, hope endures.
When we marry, we see countless wonderful qualities in our partner. Chances are that, even when a marriage is failing, and no matter how egregious the behavior of a spouse, some of these qualities remain recognizable.
This capacity to see the best of who another is magnifies the pain of them leaving our life.
We wonder if they are a good person and I am a good person, why can't we work this out?
Whether or not you are the spouse who initiates the divorce, you will at some time arrive at a choice point: Do I continue to fight with the truth of what I see or am I willing to surrender to what is?
Do I admit that my spouse is proceeding with the divorce despite my wishes?
Do I see that I am no longer willing to live like this?
Do accept that I cannot make my spouse change?
Do I surrender to the reality of my situation?
No one wants to be divorced. But not everyone is willing to remain in a marriage which they see is over for them. And when your spouse believes the marriage cannot be saved, it is useful to look at the choice you have about where to focus your energy.
Do you continue to struggle against the unchangeable? Or is it time to change that which you can, and to your focus to what has now become most important?
The courageous lady I met saw that her husband was headed to his lawyer's office. Despite her devastation, she was willing to face the truth of her situation. She had three young boys who needed a home and needed her strong.
She did not want the divorce. But she was willing to surrender to what she saw was beyond her control and to take a next step forward.
The filing of a divorce may not necessarily mean there is no hope of reconciliation. Nevertheless, at some point we might see that we are prolonging our suffering because of fears that stop us from seeing something that is so hard to accept.
Are you at a choice point about your marriage?
Is there something you cannot change?
If you notice yourself being among the eternally hopeful and optimistic, take a small step and direct that positivity toward yourself and your future. In this arena, you have every reason to know that all things are possible. To this, too, you can surrender.