We’ve all heard that divorce story…about the couple who went to court on the day of their divorce, and then after it was final got a hotel room and had sex. I have heard those stories, but never talked with anyone firsthand who admitted they actually did that.
So, when I got an email from a divorced guy stating that his divorce was recently finalized, and that he and his wife went out for lunch after, began drinking, and ended up in bed, I wanted to write about it because I have a lot to say on the subject.
To give you a better idea about this couple, the wife was the one who wanted the divorce. They have 3 kids and have been married for 12 years. Here is his email:
My recent divorce (her initiation) has been very amicable (4 kids and 12 years of marriage – married young) – we went to the courtroom together, shared jokes and proceeded to go out to lunch. Lots of drinking followed and eventually found ourselves going out with a literal “bang.” Does this happen frequently to couples? I know that it’s over between us but I find myself pretty depressed today. I still love her very much. Any advice on how to stop loving someone or at least stop loving someone deeply? I feel stuck.
My gut reaction to this was I couldn’t understand why this couple got divorced in the first place! Amicable divorce and obviously physical attraction still there. I needed more information so I emailed him back and asked him why they got divorced, and if his ex-wife was aware of his feelings. Here is his reply:
She is very aware that I still love her, but she is not “in love” with me. Even though she mentions that I’m a great guy, husband, father with a good job and good personality, she felt she needed to experience more out of life. I know I made mistakes in our relationship, but nothing anyone would call earth shattering. I respect her decision but obviously am disappointed in that decision. She mentions that she never had a chance to discover who she is and she was also diagnosed with Bipolar disorder after our 3rd child. I think it is probably in my best interest to move on but I’m having a hard time of it. Are there any steps that can be taken to get to a place of some indifference? I don’t think I will ever stop loving her and most of the advice I get from my friends would inherently change who I am as a person (man whore etc.) Right now I’m just kind of waiting for time to pass to soften my wounds, which is pretty depressing.
Ok, now I decided I definitely have some strong opinions about this situation. A few things: I am only hearing his side of the story, but my gut says that this is not about him, but rather about his ex-wife’s issues.
I personally think this guy will do just fine after the divorce. He will meet someone and fall in love, and be happy again. It is the wife I worry about. She says she isn’t in love with him any longer, but chose to sleep with him on the day of their divorce. Two things: one, that is very selfish of her, knowing that her ex-husband is still in love with her, if in fact she did it just for sex and has no intentions of reconciling. And two, she is obviously still attracted to him, plus she says he is a great husband, father, has a good job and personality, so why not work on the marriage more? Why give up?
I have heard of men and women who have bipolar disorder, who get divorced and blame the other person for the problems. It is not uncommon. What is so sad is that this guy, who seems like a sweetheart is suffering so much. I’m not saying he was perfect (then again who is perfect in a marriage?) but to me, her reasons—solely based on these emails, of course, do not seem justified. You might be thinking, “Who is she–Jackie to judge?” and maybe you are right. I haven’t heard her side. I’m just basing my opinion on what I read and what my gut is telling me.
Now, onto the advice for this guy. How do you stop loving someone? Here are 6 things that might help:
1. He is wise to let himself grieve the loss. This is natural and takes time. It’s OK to cry. But in addition to being sad and depressed, I would actually like him to be a little more angry. He seems a bit too amicable. Not that fighting and bitterness are good, but how can he not feel mad at her for ending what was probably a pretty good marriage, and by the way one that had 3 children. Experiencing anger is healthy, if you keep it to yourself and your therapist (and maybe some friends and family) and don’t show it to the kids.
2. Go to therapy. Please. I think it should be required that everyone going through a divorce attend therapy, at least for a few months.
3. Take accountability for his role in the divorce, but also realize that she has bipolar disorder, and that she chose to divorce—that in some respects it was out of his control. And that now, he must accept the way things are, the way things turned out, and begin to heal and move on.
4. Without becoming a man whore (as his friends are suggesting), he might find it helpful to go out with friends and even have a few dates, just to take his mind off of his sadness and loneliness. Friends—both male and female are great at this point for him. See where the relationships go without trying to force anything and without expectations of anything.
5. Love love love those kids and focus on them, rather than the ex-wife. They need him and he needs them.
6. Try to remember reality versus all of the wonderful things our minds drift to when we drum up past relationships. It’s easy to romanticize the past and remember only the good parts versus the cold, hard facts of what she has done. It’s painful to drudge that up, but I think it helps in processing, accepting and moving on.
The thing is, no one can help someone fall out of love. Time just has to go by and eventually, (it could be years later) you realize that you are no longer in love. And that moment is both very sad and very empowering and liberating.
I truly believe that this guy will end up really happy in another relationship, and think maybe his ex-wife might regret what she did, or might end up in a few relationships—none of which will really work out.
This guy uses the words “stuck” and “depressed” in describing how he feels. I’ve been there and it isn’t easy. But time and life and God have a way of changing things, and one day he won’t feel stuck anymore, and he won’t feel depressed. With faith, self-confidence, and focusing on the right things, I think the future is bright for this guy. The immediate future might be difficult and scary, but long-term will be great for him. I feel it. As for his ex, I hope she is on medication and in therapy, and I hope that the divorce continues to be amicable, both for the health of the couple and the children, of course.
I almost forgot to address his comment about indifference. You can’t “take steps to become indifferent.” Indifferent means you just don’t care, and that is out of our control. Most people who say, “I don’t care” anymore, really do care or they wouldn’t even say it. You will know when or if you feel indifferent and it is something that will either happen for you or it won’t. You have no control.
In closing, how do you stop loving someone? This man (and every divorced man and woman) has the right to love their ex spouse forever. But, I think it is wise to know the difference between loving what you had and loving the ex like you might love a family member versus hanging on to a love that no longer exists, and or that is one-sided. Think about it, why would you want to love someone who doesn’t love you back? Don’t you deserve a mutual true love?
In other words, instead of clinging to the comfort zone, focus on the love you could someday have with someone else—a love that is loyal and long-lasting, and a love that brings you more happiness than you might ever have expected. Doesn’t the hope of that idea sound inspirational?
Like this post? Check out my article, “20 Things I wish I could have told my newly separated self.”