Divorce Hasn't Changed My Ex-Husband Into the Man I Want Him to Be

Breakup Voodoo DollMy divorce is nearing the completion stage (fingers crossed!), which means that I’ve had to deal with the ex more than usual recently. We have not had an amicable split, to say the least. Nope, this is something I pursued on my own, for reasons that don’t really matter for the purposes of this post, nor are anyone’s business anyway.

This divorce has been an unwelcome challenge, just as my marriage was. I wasn't an idiot, I knew marriage wasn't going to be a cakewalk every day, but I didn't expect it to be so damn hard. Comfortable compromise and finding common ground weren't exactly things my ex and I excelled at together.


Recently I was really struggling over an email exchange with my ex as I dropped my kids off at school. I held it together and hugged and kissed them as they ran off to join their classmates, but when they were out of sight, I burst into tears.

Another mom friend who knows the situation came up to me quietly and hugged me. "Are you OK?" she asked.

"Yeah … no. Maybe. I don’t know. Just more divorce crap," I responded lamely, wiping stupid tears from my face.

"Same old, same old?" she asked.

"Ayup," I said. "Same old, same old."

She broke our embrace and held my shoulders. "Jenny," she said, "Look at it this way … isn’t it a blessing that God is showing you over and over that you made the right decision?"

It was exactly what I needed to hear. My soon-to-be-ex-husband and I can’t get along as exes any more that we got along as spouses. The difference is now I’m just not pretending anymore, or making the best of it, or trying to find contentment in all things, or whatever we’re calling "feeling trapped in a crappy marriage" these days.

We have fundamental differences on what love is and what a marriage should be, and as it turns out, we can’t agree on what our divorce should look like, either.

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Sometimes divorced people say they married the wrong person, or they changed, or the other person changed … and I get it. I’ve had those thoughts too. But really, he is who he is, and always was, and always will be. Those same characteristics that I saw through the rose-colored glasses of youth and a desperate desire to get married are now thorns in my side as I try to make it through this divorce sludge.

How quickly steadfastness becomes an inability to adapt, or spontaneity turns to impulsivity, or determination to stubbornness when the foundation of a marriage begins to crumble. Is that same cool rationale I used to envy really just his tendency to emotionally detach? Couple that detachment with the possessiveness he still seems to feel for me, and I am one hella confused ex-wife.

A mutual friend asked me recently, "What the heck is he thinking?"

I shrugged. All I could offer was, "If I could figure out what goes on in that man’s head, there’s a chance we might still be married."

I used to love my mysterious man and looked forward to a lifetime of intimately uncovering his soul next to mine, creating a deeper and more satisfying bond as the years went by. I couldn’t do it. I used to think it was my fault I couldn’t reach him, couldn’t make him understand that I needed him, couldn't get him to see my perspective. Marital harmony came at a very high price, and my "exciting" marriage just became more and more chaotic.

Now my divorce is all over the place too. I joked the other day that knowing my ex (or not!), it will be final between two weeks and two years from now. Who knows? It will go through when he finally changes his mind about wanting one (which will happen swiftly, without warning or for any apparent reason), or when I decide to battle it through. Same way every conflict in our relationship has been "solved."

My ex-husband is, after all, still just the same man I married.

Do you think people can truly change?


Image via rubygirl jewelry/Flickr

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