Love is a tricky little thing. It has a million layers. It’s not black and white. There are no hard and fast rules and it looks different for every person.
I fell in love 5 years ago. I fell hard and I fell fast. Although we had a rocky start, I fully expected that eventually we’d ride off into the sunset together.
I went into that relationship knowing the truth about love. I knew that love is not a cure all. I knew that love is an action, not just a feeling. I knew that love is a choice and marriage is hard.
I’d just come out of a bad marriage. I felt pretty grounded in the reality of love and marriage given both the failure of mine and the success of my parents.
I had great examples of love and commitment growing up as I come from a long line of strong, faith-filled marriages. My parents have been married 33 years and my grandparents have been married 56. Divorce is not a common theme in my family; yet, it seems to be a familiar theme in my life.
I’m only 29 and in the middle of my second divorce. That’s embarrassing.
When I married my husband, I vowed to myself that I would never get divorced again. As such, I did absolutely everything I could to keep it on track, even though we were derailed before we even started.
We are told by society, love songs and romantic movies, “All you need is love.” While it’s true that love covers a multitude of sins, and ultimately, I believe love wins in life, it is unfortunately not true that all you need is love.
Love cannot cure disease. It cannot heal the sick. It can’t mend broken bones. It doesn’t pay the bills. Love doesn’t share the housework. It doesn’t make you a good parent. It can’t stop someone from self destructing. It can’t unbreak a heart.
Love is not enough to take you to the end. Love is only the beginning.
My relationship with my husband was always unhealthy. It was birthed in pain and its death has created even more pain. But people we don’t love can’t hurt us.
That’s why divorce is so excruciating. Because even when its the healthier choice to end a marriage, wrapped up in that dysfunction is love, and peeling apart the tangled hearts is painful.
I am not an advocate of divorce. Nothing about divorce is pretty. It wrecks everything. But what I eventually had to accept in my marriage is that an unhealthy relationship wrecks you just as much, if not more, than a divorce. If there are children involved, the decision to end a marriage is even more devastating because the effects of it trickle through you and into the lives of your children forever.
Despite the inevitable impact divorce will have on you and your children’s lives, I firmly believe it is better to come from a broken home than to live in one.
I learned the hard way that love is not enough, and it is not a reason to stay in a relationship. At this point, one year after separating from my husband and the finalization of our divorce on the horizon; I am still learning that love is not enough.
Saying you’re “in love” with someone you’re divorcing is about as tricky as the concept of love itself. I would not say that I am “in love” with my husband at this point. It’s hard to be in love with someone who hurts you so much. But I do know that I “have love” for him, and I think a part of me always will. After all, he is the father of my babies. There’s no way to fully hate someone who gave you such a gift.
At the same time, hate and love reside scarily close to each other. Hate and love are the extreme emotions birthed out of passion. I don’t believe you can hate someone who you don’t also love. And that is what makes divorce so painful.
You’re trying to balance all the love you had for this person at one point, with all the hate you now have for whatever lead to the downfall of your marriage. While you’re balancing that, you’re also trying to forgive and let go while your heart is still wrapped around someone else’s. Throw in the emotions connected to your children’s hearts and the pain likely being inflicted on them, and you’ve got a tricky situation on your hands.
For me, the decision to separate from my husband was made out of a place of such a depth of love that I was drowning. I had to get out in order to survive.
My initial prayer was that separating would give us both the chance to catch our breath so that we could dive back in together. What my husband made blatantly clear was that he had no intentions of diving into anything but himself.
The dynamics of our relationship were unhealthy from the beginning, and though I gave it my all, I just was never able to rectify that. A marriage takes two people. Ideally, two healthy people. But if one is sick and unwilling to do anything to heal that sickness, the marriage inevitably dies. It’s like trying to ride a bicycle with one flat tire. It just isn’t going to work.
Just because a marriage dies does not mean the love does. But just because the love doesn’t die, does not mean the marriage shouldn’t.
Letting go of someone you love is devastating. It’s like a death. But I have learned that my love is not enough to sustain the life of another soul.
My love for my husband has changed a lot over the years, but it isn’t gone.
It’ll never be completely gone. That man held my whole heart in his hands, and though he didn’t cherish it the way he was supposed to, he will always have little pieces of it. But he doesn’t deserve all of it. He never did.
Love isn’t supposed to be painful. Hard, yes. Painful, no. Our love was devastating. It left me breathless. Confused. Hurting.
Part of what has made my journey to healing so difficult is that despite all the damage and pain, despite all the lies and manipulative games, my heart still belonged to him. My love for him was built on unhealthy ground though; and when the foundation is weak, the whole house crumbles. No amount of fixing the walls and painting over the holes was going to change the cracked foundation we stood on.
I had to get out from under that crumbling house and build my own.
I stand here today with love still pulsing through my body for a man I never should have given my heart to. And it hurts. But I am finally learning to accept that staying in an unhealthy relationship, waiting for the person to become something else is unfair to everyone. And it isn’t what healthy love looks like.
Love is not enough to take you to the end, because it’s only the beginning.
This post was originally published on DivorcedMoms.com.