It is a self-evident truth that, in the realm of human relationships, agency will always create the opportunity for truly irreconcilable differences.

During our long-term marriages, we believed we would always be able to think of an acceptable alternative to divorce, no matter what problem arose. However, in both of our cases, the decision was our spouse's. At other times, the kind of marriage a spouse might have to settle for would violate their integrity.  For example, we know a man whose wife told him she would stay married to him if she could keep her lesbian partner in a separate bedroom in their house. He would not remain married on those terms.

In situations where your spouse gave up on the marriage, placed serious addictions above the marriage, or proved chronically unfaithful or abusive, you can continue to hope and pray if you wish. This may be living in denial. Acceptance of reality and of your partner's agency is the beginning of healing.

If you are broken-hearted over the decisions of a former spouse and think, "It wasn't supposed to be this way" or that something is "wrong," give yourself time to grieve. But also begin to ask yourself whether, perhaps, your situation is exactly as it should be. Consider whether a chance to start over at mid-life with all the knowledge you have gained is a tender mercy. Begin to think and dream about creating a new future with a spouse that is aligned with you in the most important areas of life – and see your situation for its possibilities.

Enjoy an associated LILY Pod episode:
  1. Elevating Energy from Grief to Gratitude
ABOUT GRATITUDE. Yesterday Cathy and I went to lunch as part of celebrating our third anniversary. I remarked to her that one of the advantages of being a divorcee is that I take our marriage less for granted.
I got married the first time when I was 26 years old. We had a child 11 months later. To some degree, I was going through the motions of what American Latter-day Saints do. I graduated from high school, served a mission, went to college, and got married when I was in graduate school. It's kind of the life plan we all expect to follow. I loved my first wife and my family, but I think I kind of just expected it would always be there for me. I took it too much for granted. Perhaps I thought what I was doing and the way I was living was just normal. But normal isn't special.
Having a lengthy marriage and then getting divorced woke me up to the fact that we are not simply entitled to marriage. Our spouses ALWAYS have choices. Even if you feel really solid with someone, that is partly a result of their devotion and conscious choice to be with you. That is a great blessing and a high honor. We should really never take it for granted. We should celebrate it every day, and not just on anniversaries.
Cathy and I dated for a good chunk of 2016 and were "just friends" for all of 2017. At the end of that year (literally the last day of the year) I wrote her a letter and asked her to date me for marriage. I didn't know it at the time, but she was dating two good men, who both had serious intentions, and trying to decide between them. So I complicated her life. Even with the great options she had and even though we had stopped dating a year prior, Cathy chose me. I don't take that for granted. She could have chosen otherwise. So I consider it a great blessing that she chose me.
Before I even met Cathy, I learned that we can only enjoy something to the extent that we are grateful for it. Our enjoyment is directly proportional to our gratitude. I enjoy my marriage and the love that we share so much because I am deeply grateful for it. I am grateful for another chance at life and happiness in marriage. I am grateful for someone to love everyday in a special way. I am grateful for the kind of family life that I once took for granted as being "just normal." Because I feel abundantly blessed, I feel abundantly happy. That is the secret my friends.
Be grateful for what you have. Be happy for others when good things happen to them. Be enthusiastic and embrace your life for its possibilities. Life is not merely to be endured. It is to be lived. So take chances, have adventures, love deeply, and live it well.

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