A New
with Men

Bouncing back from divorce.

“I WANT A DIVORCE!”. Although its been over eighteen years since I heard these words, I still remember the shock and uncertainty I felt when my former wife screamed them at me. Although I knew there were problems in our marriage I really didn’t believe that they were insurmountable. I knew that I was unhappy and felt trapped in a situation that I could not get out of, but now that I had a way out I was unprepared to deal with it. I remember sitting up late that night and pondering what my next step should be. Should I go along with it and end our six-year marriage? What about the kids? Should I fight for custody? What will my friends and co-workers think? Where will I live? Should I give up the house? These were just a few of the questions running through my mind and I had absolutely no idea how I was going to answer them.

The first few days after her divorce request were terrible. We would not speak to each other or even make direct eye contact. Although we continued to sleep in the same bed we were emotionally miles apart from one another. We would simply go through our regular routines and walk pass each other without saying a word. I could feel the tension between us but I felt powerless to do anything. Every time I attempted to even speak with her our conversations would erupt into a shouting match. It appeared that there was nothing that could be done to save our marriage.

After several days I was able to put my sadness and anger aside to try and make some rational decisions. I decided that it would be best if we at least attempted to save our marriage. There were several factors that prompted my decision. First of all there were my children. As a child, I remember how much I missed not having a father in my life. I always envied my friends who had fathers and I remember making a conscious decision to being a good father if I ever had children of my own. My children and I were very close so I definitely wanted to minimize any pain they would experience. Another reason that I thought it would be best to stay together was financial. I knew that if we were to divorce it would be extremely difficult for me to make it on my own while paying child support and possibly maintaining two households since my wife was a stay at home mom. Last but not least (and I’m not proud of this) I was really afraid of what my friends and employees would think of me. In their eyes I had the perfect life. I had created this image of having it all together and the thought of going through with this divorce would shatter that image. That really scared me and filled me with shame and embarrassment.

I convinced my wife to try marriage counseling. I told her that I really wanted to try and work things out so we should at least give it a try. She agreed and we began counseling. After several sessions it became obvious that our marriage was not going to work out. I discovered that I really wanted out of the marriage but I was too afraid to say it. All the reasons that I tried to make the marriage work were wrong. I never asked myself the two most important questions of my life. 1. Do I really love her? 2. Do I really want to spend the rest of my life with her? As a result of our counseling I realized that the answer was no to both questions.

Once we knew that the divorce was inevitable I decided to make it as amicable as possible. I sat down with her and said we should try to make this as simple and painless as possible. Fortunately she agreed and we were able to decide on how our possessions would be divided up and we were even able to work out visitation with the children. As a matter of fact our divorce was so amicable that we used the same attorney to handle the divorce. (If you are currently going through a divorce my suggestion is that you do everything in your power to separate on good terms. Although this is extremely difficult I can assure you that if you put your ego aside and try and work things out together everybody wins in the end.) I must admit that I am truly grateful to my ex-wife for being willing to work things out the way we did. I am forever indebted to her for never speaking badly to our children about me and for making sure that we worked together as parents to help our children handle the whole ordeal. Our willingness to work together to raise our children has paid off with three emotionally and psychologically well adjusted children that we are both extremely proud of.

After the divorce was final I found myself in unknown territory. This was actually the first time I had really failed at anything so major and life changing. I did not know what to expect but intuitively I knew that I would get through it. At the time I was somewhat isolated and alone. I really did not have any close friends to talk to so I simply kept to myself and tried to handle it alone. One of the first declarations I made was to never get married again. Marriage was a difficult and painful experience and I concluded that I did not want to experience the pain and loss of a divorce ever again. To avoid the potential pain of relationships I simply submersed myself in my work

After a few months I decided to break out of my isolation and at least start going out again. Although I wasn’t looking for a relationship I did want to at least have some companionship. The problem I had with going out was that I was still ashamed and embarrassed because of my divorce and I felt as if I had this huge neon letter D stamped on my forehead. My feelings of inadequacy and failure made it extremely difficult to really connect with anyone so most of the time I simply would go to clubs and dance a little without having much conversation.

Within approximately six months I started to long for a relationship. I was tired of being alone and I really missed having a partner to share life with. I decided to try and date to see what would happen. My first few relationships after my divorce were disasters. Although I did not know this at the time I was absolutely terrified of intimacy. I had all sorts of trouble connecting on an emotional level with women because I was still scarred emotionally from my divorce. After several failures I begin to recognize a pattern in my relationships. The first thing I noticed was that my relationships never lasted more than three weeks. Within that time period something would happen that would terminate the relationship. In most cases the women were the ones who were saying that they weren’t ready for a relationship. If they weren’t leaving I was the one making excuse about why I needed to end the relationship. I had devised some pretty good excuses for ending relationships like being too busy at work or trying to be a good father to my children but the truth was I was terrified of experiencing the pain I had associated with relationships.

After a couple of years I met a woman that I really enjoyed being with. We had great chemistry and had a lot in common. After dating her for over a year I began having deep feelings for her and decided that I really wanted to make a commitment to an exclusive relationship. When I told her how I felt her response really caught me by surprise. She told me that she really liked me a lot and would like to develop a committed relationship with me but she knew that I was emotionally unavailable to her so she did not want to invest her feelings into a guy that could not reciprocate her love. I felt rejected and angry and did not know how to respond to her comment. As a result, the relationship ended and there I was alone again.

The good news is that I really listened to what she had to say. I recognized that I was the problem not her. I was able to see that I was the reason my relationships weren’t working out and I decided to do something about it. I began my own inner journey to heal my heart so that I would no longer keep pushing women out of my life. I followed M. Scott Peck’s advice and took the road less traveled and I definitely became a better man as a result of it.

After being on my fifteen-year personal journey and learning to love myself I decided that I really did want to remarry. Since I took the time to understand the how's and the why’s of my past relationship failures, I was able to finally create loving and supportive relationships without the fear of intimacy or abandonment. As a result of my commitment to my own personal growth I was able to create a relationship that really works for me which ultimately resulted in me getting remarried and creating a marriage that really nurtures and supports me. I really enjoy the emotional security that comes from having a spouse that loves and adores me and I’m truly grateful that I took the time to understand the importance of having authentic relationships.

Great relationships take effort and commitment but ultimately they are definitely life’s greatest treasure. If you are having difficulty with relationships, been through or going through a divorce or have a deep fear of commitment take the time to heal your heart and it will open the door to creating great relationships.

Good luck!

©2009, Michael Taylor

Related Issue: January could be the cruelest month for men in relationships

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Michael Taylor is a dreamer, revolutionary, an entrepreneur, author (A New Conversatoin with Men), personal development coach and motivational speaker who has dedicated his life to empowering men (and women) to reach their full potential. He does not consider himself to be an expert or guru. He does consider himself to be extremely knowledgeable in the field of personal growth and development. The fact is, he is an ordinary guy that made a commitment to live an extraordinary life and he wants to challenge you to do the same. E-Mail or www.anewconversationwithmen.com

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