This newly separated man is seeking divorce advice, and to tell you the truth, although I feel so so sorry for him, I’m also kind of mad at the situation. I’ll explain why but first, read his e-mail:
I have only myself to blame. I could have done so many things different to make her happy. She begged me to change but I was a stubborn ass and assumed she would always keep the promise of our wedding vows. I was wrong. I love her so much and she has moved on like I meant nothing. Please help. I’m paralyzed from moving on and am dying inside.
While I truly feel for this kindhearted man who is hurting, and while I want to hug him and tell him everything is eventually going to be OK, I can’t help but feel frustrated and angry at the situation. Why? Because while I admire his self-awareness and his ability to realize his faults, I’m wondering why he didn’t attempt to save his marriage while he still could. In other words, why didn’t he listen to what his wife was telling him about her unhappiness and then take the steps he is so willing to take now to make things better? Why did it take her leaving to make him snap out of his stubbornness and take her needs seriously?
People whose spouses leave often realize their shortcomings only after the person has checked out of the relationship, and I’m sure it is a horrible, hopeless, frustrating feeling. To want someone back who has clearly made the decision to be done is awful. I sometimes feel like it’s easier to cope with a divorce if you were the one who was wronged because at least you didn’t have control (to an extent) of what happened, and you don’t have to look back and say, “I should have done this…” “I wish I had done this.”
But let’s be honest. Everyone who goes through a divorce says things similar to those, I’m sure. But, if you blatantly know you could have done better and chose not to at the time, that must really really hurt.
People often make these mistakes in business. For example, I had a client awhile ago who stopped doing business with me. At the time, I was shocked, but looking back, I feel like maybe I didn’t pay enough attention to the account. Maybe I didn’t nurture the client enough, I didn’t show the client the value of the services they were receiving, I didn’t make the client feel important. I’ll never know for sure why I lost them, but my point is, I should have been more on top of knowing what their feelings were.
Love is sort of the same way. If you fail to nurture your client (partner), make he or she feel important, appreciated, loved, listened to, validated, guess what? He or she will stop doing business with you. They will switch firms, i.e. cheat, or just walk away.
Another example is, I recently received an promotional email from a restaurant I used to eat at all the time and haven’t been there in over a year. The email said, “We miss you! Here is a $15 gift card. Come in and see us!”
While appreciative of the offer, I couldn’t help but wonder, why didn’t they send me a $15 off coupon during the time I was eating there twice a month? They didn’t appreciate me until I was gone. Why did it take me not eating there for awhile for them to recognize me, to make me feel important and valued? Can’t this concept be applied to romantic relationships?
I once ended a relationship with a guy who while we were dating refused to watch Homeland with me. Every week, all I wanted to do was watch my favorite show with him. I love that show so much, and watching it with my boyfriend would have made it even more enjoyable. But he would never watch it with me. Then, when we broke up, he said, “I’ll watch Homeland with you.” But by then it was just too late. The damage was done. It might seem like a really small thing, and of course it was a very small part of the break up, but it isn’t the show that mattered so much. It was the fact that that not watching my show with me sent me a subliminal message that he didn’t care about me, about my wants or needs. It would have been so easy for him to watch it with me, yet he wouldn’t.
So, advice for my reader whose wife left. What should he do now that he can’t get her back and he feels he only has himself to blame?
1. Let go. It is very very very hard, but after awhile, you have to accept the harsh reality that it is too late for her.
2. Talk to someone. Therapy is good for grieving and being at peace with the past. So are good friends and family. So is God.
3. Forgive himself. We are human, we make mistakes and with each experience in life we become wiser and better people. That’s why forgiving oneself shouldn’t be difficult.
4. Have hope. He will undoubtedly learn from his past and probably make a woman very happy in the future. (which will then infuriate his ex-wife because she will be thinking… “Why couldn’t he have been this way with me??!!”)
In closing, I want to say one more thing about losing someone and then trying to get that person back. Maybe people in this situation didn’t really try that hard when they were married because they really didn’t care. Maybe when the spouse chooses to end things, they grasp at the notion that they are to blame because they are afraid for it to be over, to be alone, and so they talk themselves into blaming themselves to try to work things out. Not sure, but it’s possible.
For this sweet guy who is saying “I’m dying inside,” I want to tell him that I get it, that I understand, and although he might not want to hear this, to remember that everything happens for the best. Big hugs!
Meanwhile, my inbox is inundated with emails from Kohl’s, offering all kinds of black Friday and holiday discounts. Now that is a store that knows how to keep it’s customer loyal!
Like this blog post? Check out my article, “6 Pieces of Advice For the Person Who Was Left”