Moral Failure versus Clarity of Vision

I have asserted that my wife’s refusal to find another way forward to resolve the issues in our marriage, to go straight to divorce without discussion or any attempt to work things out, is a moral failure—a failure to respect the vows we made when we were married, a failure to respect the once-loving bonds of the relationship, a failure to respect, even to try to see, the other person’s needs and desires.

My wife rejects that formulation and instead calls her decision clarity of vision. She is certain that the marriage cannot be mended, that our worldviews are utterly different, and opposed, that her personal salvation depends on me no longer being in her life. She says this makes her sad, and that her sadness is equal to mine.

Perhaps these two judgments speak for themselves.

My wife is not willing to compromise, and has condemned my willingness to compromise as weak, another piece of her decision to dissolve the marriage. She uses as evidence the fact that I stayed in a very unhappy marriage the first time for far too long, accepting unhappiness as a condition to be endured, worked around, rather than ending.

What she says is true. I have a high tolerance for unhappiness. I would rather be together in less than great circumstances, for me, than apart. My wife doesn’t understand that I love her, and that sharing our lives, even without the normal acts of affection and intimacy, is better than calling it quits.

Is it though? Am I fooling myself? Am I so attached to the status quo, to the comforts of home and “married life,” that I am willing to forego personal gratification and fulfillment? My wife is not, and is completely clear about her needs and how to achieve them. I focus on all I’m giving up—not on what I will gain. When I told my wife that I am losing my dog in this divorce, her response was Bebe isn’t a possession, that one doesn’t “own” another creature. Is that supposed to make me feel better?

I know that my attitude will improve when not being confronted with the physical realities of separation: the packing up, the downsizing, the dislocation of where I’ll live, where I’ll work, where my mail will go. Not being confronted by my wife’s judgmental judgments.

Reframing this collapse of my marriage as an opportunity is a mind game.

Time may make it a reality.




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