Divorce means a failed marriage. Although I do not want to get divorced my spouse does. I thought we were in a great place. We had been through much heartache, and misery as newlyweds. Just a few months after we exchanged vows in front of friends and family, I suffered career-ending injuries from my on-duty squad car accident on the South Side of Chicago. I am beyond grateful that I actually survived that day, and it is only by the grace of God and wearing my seatbelt.
After years of surgeries, physical therapy, the personal nightmares of dealing with work comp, the horror of dealing with my department’s medical section bureaucracy, and the stress of relocating our family to another state, I felt I had purpose again with meaningful work – teaching.
I thought we finally made it! I moved our family to Texas to be closer to my wife’s family. On top of the usual arguments, most couples have, our marriage was burdened with additional obstacles. I must take “ownership” of some of the scars, being a poor husband due to the anger, frustration, and bitterness stemming from my numerous surgeries, chronic pain, and psychological trauma of my squad car accident. I thought our marriage was solid. I was wrong! Returning home on that fateful day, I thought our home had been burglarized. I walked into my home and saw things missing and called 911.
I made attempts to call my wife, but the calls went straight to voicemail, I was nervous and uncertain. Twenty minutes later, our doorbell rang. Thankfully I thought I would now get the answer from possibly a neighbor. I answered the door; a woman greeted me by my name and handed me paperwork. Still in denial, I took the papers and saw the word DIVORCE! I was being served divorce papers!! It didn’t make sense to me at all!!?? My wife and I just celebrated my birthday the past weekend with friends at a steakhouse. The following night we went to a family party and spent the night at a boutique hotel. It pains me to think I did not see this coming. It hurts me to have been intimate with my wife the entire weekend and then get served (divorce papers) on Monday.
It is horribly humbling getting divorced this way, and then sitting in an empty house that you just recently purchased alone with your thoughts. The silence of the empty house was terrifying. The sobering effect of having your spouse leave with your small children is chilling, odd, and inconceivable. I would not wish this hurt on my worst enemy. If your marriage is struggling ACT NOW!!! Start listening to the needs of your spouse. Listen without being defensive, and or judgmental.
For a marriage to succeed each must hear the other complaints without getting defensive. This is harder than learning how to express negative feelings effectively. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask a family member or mentor for help in specific areas. If your marriage is suffering, ask your spouse what you can specifically work on to better your relationship. Write it down and post it as a daily reminder. If anything, it may present a nice surprise for your spouse to see.
Consider this question.
When was the last time you dated your spouse: dinner, move, flowers? When was the last time you went out for dinner without the kids? Making time for each other is paramount for a healthy marriage. Recognize you may be in a routine that is draining your marriage/relationship. Be intentional about spending time together. Recent Pew research on what makes marriages work indicates that the average couple spends less than twenty minutes a day talking to each other! Turn off the technology and spend more time catching up with each other. You will net compound interest on the incremental improvement, making for a happier spouse!!
For me, learning to live, this new (ab) normal life is extremely challenging. The hardest part of my current situation is not seeing my kids daily; not being able to read to my kids before bed or wake them up every morning has been very difficult. Divorce has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with. NOT being able to walk in the door and hear my children scream “Daddy’s home” is heartbreaking. I need to remind myself I must own some of this heartache and work on becoming better.
NOT leaning on the bottle or using maladaptive coping mechanisms has been vital for my health and wellness in dealing with my divorce. I won’t lie, I wanted to do some awful things to stop my pain. The first few days were an absolute blur. I was not eating or sleeping, waking up, nightly thinking this was a dream, and then looking around, made me even more depressed. Without any sleep for days…ending my life seemed like the solution. I thank God I kept my faith by praying and constantly looking at my kids’ photos In my darkest moments.
I am forever beholden to my brother John. He stopped his life for me. He flew from Virginia leaving his wife, three children, and work behind to be present for me when I was at my lowest. He flew out and helped me that weekend get me to slowly get back on track. It is something I will never take for granted. Because if he didn’t come out to help me, I would not be writing this article.
I am no scholar, nor intellectual, just an ordinary man who has been blessed with humility through humiliation and countless hours in quiet reflection, the result being this article. Humbling myself was the start. Charity begins in your home with your spouse and children. Don’t wait, buy that card, purchase the small gift or flowers just because. Heck, something as small as cleaning out your garage will make your spouse incredibly happy! Remember, If you’re struggling in your marriage, demonstrate to your spouse, that you are willing to work on any issue and strive to become sensitive to your spouse’s needs. All losses are painful but lean, not into blaming, questioning, or worrying. If your efforts become futile and divorce is the outcome, learn to forgive, and work tirelessly to improve your lot.
Too many of our brothers and sisters in law enforcement and the military choose to end their lives, the final solution to a temporary problem.
Winston Churchill once said, “If you are going through hell, keep going!!!” There were times when I had to live minute to minute hour to hour. I have talked to several officers who have leaned on the bottle or worse. I understand and see how those in law enforcement feel that there are no options, there are; I am living proof.