You have done it. It has been said. What else can be said? Have you seen enough? If you have been following this week’s series on the Divorce Life-Cycle then you know that we have reached our 4th stage of Condemnation. You and I have looked at Irritation, Contemplation, and Irrigation all the while feeling the roller-coaster of emotions that accompany love in the E.R.
And…if you are going through this cycle or have in the past, you know the ebb and flow of emotions that sways in the wind like a springtime thunder storm rolling over the plains. You are desperate to get “it” through their “head.” You want reciprocity! You want to see them “prove” they love you and you want it now. Where do you turn?
Well if we take history or folklore into account…we might feel a bit like Paul Revere as he took his midnight ride through Boston in 1775 yelling, “The Redcoats are coming!! The Redcoats are coming!!” We are dying for anybody and everybody to take up our cause. We want their support of our campaign against our spouse and we do not want to hear of salvation or commitment or promises. We feel that we have exhausted all options and we have begun to lay the foundation for an exit plan even though many of us won’t readily admit it during this stage.
We want to feel Normal! We want to cease feelings of craziness and disillusionment. So what we do is we test the waters. We dip our toes in…share a little at a time…and see if any of our family, friends, or colleagues take the bait. We crave ears like a Texan craves brisket. We want it all and we want the unbiased and supportive ears of anyone in our path.
And…if we don’t get the response that we want we begin to act like first-year lawyers staking out our claims and passion for “justice.” We get big picture. We talk about dreams and what we thought we wanted and we condemn the inaction of our spouse like a building unfit for human occupation. NOW we want others to see the cracks in our marriage.
We tried Irrigation tactics…in our hearts we tried to “work” at getting the marriage back, but if you are like me and the millions of other divorcee’s…you probably found yourself setting a trap for your spouse. It becomes so easy, when your trust is waning, to “provide” your spouse with opportunities to reform their usual and irritating ways. What happens, though, is that what you really are doing is setting a “trap” where both parties are going to lose out. You want dramatic and swift change and you wouldn’t mind if they threw in a little humility and honesty. And…when you get anything less than a miracle…you want to explode.
You run to your friends and anyone who will hear and you spill your guts just praying that someone will utter the most damning words to a marriage in trouble…
“You deserve better…You deserve someone who loves you for you.”
Once those words have been released into the atmosphere there comes the crossroads you never thought you would find yourself at. The intersection of life that takes you back to childhood wondering which path to take in this big, scary, and often lonely world. To feel these emotions…to feel this level of pain can be heartbreaking. You never wanted to get to this place and yet some part of you desperately did. You wanted the mental and emotional freedom to explore life the way it was “intended” to be…not shackled to the skeletons of your spouse and not restrained by your personal fear of abandonment.
To be a Normal Male and Female means experiencing all facets of a relationship…the good, the bad, and the ugly. And, whether we are Paul Revere galloping through our life in desperate need for outside support…we all want to know that what we are feeling, fearing, and hoping for is NORMAL.
Let me tell you this…it is Normal and not going through these emotional cycles would make you abnormal. Life is often a great mythical tragedy filled with love, passion, romance, defeat, and rebirth…the question is whether you can weather this stage of your marriage to make a decision that will truly point you in a direction of emotional prosperity…with or without your spouse.
I leave the answer to you because some will emerge with a new appreciation for the quirks and idiosyncrasies of their partner and others will determine that Reconciliation (Stage 5 coming Monday) means forgiveness for the difficult decision ahead and all of the challenges that await the dissolution of a marriage once thought indestructible.
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male