Why Divorce HurtsSeptember 14, 2012 • By Andra Brosh, PhD, Divorce/Divorce Adjustment Topic Expert Contributor
The pain of divorce is often unbearable. The experience can be so awful that you wonder whether it would have been easier to stay married or even to be dealing with some other horrific life event like death. The depth of pain is often surprising, particularly when you know you don’t want to be married anymore. What many people forget is that divorce is just a fancy word masking what is truly a broken attachment between two people. Divorce is more than separating assets and belongings. It’s the severing of a very strong bond founded on deep feelings of dependency and need. Believe it or not, you developed an attachment to your partner over the course of dating and marriage that connected you on an emotional and physiological level beyond what you realized.
When two people get married they are vowing to be committed and to love one another, but they are also pledging to become “attached.” This attachment is unspoken and unknown to both, but it is the most powerful connection anyone can have to another person in a love relationship. According to author Helen Fischer in her book Why We Love, our “cuddle chemicals,” namely oxytocin and vasopressin, contribute to the sense of closeness and attachment couples feel toward each other in a love relationship. These bonding hormones promote a sense of fusion between lovers that deepens attachment and a sense of oneness. This biological phenomenon explains the depth of devastation felt when the attachment is broken and the physiological symptoms that become activated when attachments are severed. The response is often primal, leading to thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that might never surface in any other context of life.
The end of a marriage is one of the most emotionally painful human experiences. Thinking about the experience of divorce within the context of attachment generates a greater sense of empathy for what you might be feeling. It explains the levels of rage, vindictiveness, grief, and despair that so often accompany this common life transition. We too often think of divorce as a noun or a verb, but it is actually a relational trauma that has a physiological and emotional effect. You may be creating more suffering for yourself by resisting what you are feeling or telling yourself that you are overreacting.
Recognize that the end of your marriage represents much more for you than you may realize. If you were a small child and the person you depended on most was suddenly unavailable to you, there is no doubt you would have a strong reaction. The end of your marriage is no different. Give yourself the time and space to heal and repair. You are not damaged, just temporarily devastated, and the recovery will come with time. Divorce is not just a matter of the heart but an experience that impacts the whole person on a multitude of levels.
© Copyright 2012 by Andra Brosh, PhD, therapist in Los Angeles, CA. All Rights Reserved.
Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org. The preceding article was solely written by the author name above. The view and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.
GraemeSeptember 14th, 2012 at 11:51 AM
Very nicely explained.I went through a divorce years ago and still cannot forget everything I went through then.It seemed like the end of the world then but even though I do remember it,I have realized that it was a phase and although things will never be the same again,it is not the end and there is just so much more to life.
I hope everybody who goes through the heartache that comes with divorce have the strength to cope with it and that they determine to go beyond that and be happy again.All the best to all your heartbroken wonderful people out there and thanks a lot to the author of this post.
Andra BroshSeptember 14th, 2012 at 3:19 PM
Thank you so much for your comment. Divorce does leave a permanent mark, but it’s almost like a beautiful scar to remind you of how resilient and courageous you are. It sounds like you have grown from the experience, which is all we can really ask for.
arthurSeptember 14th, 2012 at 3:27 PM
Divorce can be so hurtful because you have placed all of your trust in this one person, and when that falls apart it is like you lose a part of yourself too. I have been through a painful divorce, and not only experiencing my own pain, but watching how it affected our children as well as our whole families, wow, that was the worst. I lost my best frined, but my family lost someone that they loved too. For many other people there is that promise to God that they feel like they are breaking when the marriages fall apart, so that is even more pressure than is already being experienced. There is this feeling that ylou have let so many people down, hurt so many and disappointed tham, that divorce can really rip you to shreds.
Andra BroshSeptember 14th, 2012 at 4:32 PM
Yes Arthur so many commitments and bonds get broken. The loss and heartbreak is often unbearable, and children are definitely affected by the pain of broken attachments as well. They are such innocent victims, but fortunately kids are most often even more resilient than their parents!! Thank you for your comment.
HopeSeptember 15th, 2012 at 3:30 AM
My ex husband and I had one of those turbulent marriages, really even before we got married, and why I ever thought that things would change with a ceremony and a piece of paper. . . well, let’s just say I had to learn my lesson the hard way.
So while it did hurt a little, I knew deep down that I was saving my self and my soul by leaving him and I would not go back and change a thing.
I did not want counseling, did not care to try to work it out, kind of because I think that I eventually learned that really this marriage was over before it started.
tiaraSeptember 15th, 2012 at 3:02 PM
although divorces tend to be hurtful and mentally draining for both partners it need not always be that way.I separated from my former husband five years ago and we still remain good friends.there was no bad blood between us when we split and we really respect each other.
coming back to divorce being hurtful,we got through it without much of hurt in either of us.that was probably because we spoke so much about it before we went for the divorce and because we really understood each other’s concern.what could also be a reason is the short period we had been married for(less than a year).
anyhow what I would like to suggest is to try and work things out by talking and try to minimize the conflict between the two of you.a divorce need not always be war as it is often made out to be!
katherineSeptember 16th, 2012 at 12:50 PM
I’ve been through three heartbreaking relationships and I just can’t take it any more. Everything I have experienced has now left me scared of any relationship at all and I am no longer looking to anything like that. I can only imagine how much hurtful a divorce can be and its not difficult to understand why those that have been through divorce seem to be so very heartbroken and hurt.
AlleySeptember 17th, 2012 at 4:11 AM
You know, I really wish that more couples would give more thought to want they are doing befor juumping into marriage!
maybe we should make natiowide marriage counseling a requirement before getting married?
Nah then people would say the government was intervening in ways that they shouldn’t, and that’s probably true. But I just can’t help but feel like we give far more thought to things that don’t matter th=an we do to the things that do. By that I mean we are so concerned about things like, oh I don’t know, gay couples who actually love each other, but we give little attention to the fact that the divorce rate among heterosexuals is going through the roof and families are losing out as a result.
shellyOctober 1st, 2012 at 5:32 AM
Too many people have such a disposable attitude towards relationships. I mean how many people do we know that have left a relationship once the “new” has worn off or left a marriage because it’s not perfect. I don’t mean there are not valid and good reasons to leave a relationship because there are but so often people just don’t want to do the work that is necessary to maintain a healthy relationship.
George PeabodyOctober 12th, 2012 at 11:37 AM
Two thoughts—-one, I would question the premise that marriage is… “the most powerful connection anyone can have to another person in a love relationship”. Perhaps I’m misreading this statement (or reading too much into it), but I believe that a parent-child love is an even more powerful love/connection.
Two, while divorce is undoubtedly painful, perhaps we need to be questioning the institution of marriage itself. Is it still a viable institution? I would love to hear/read feedback.
Dr. BroshOctober 15th, 2012 at 8:09 PM
Hi George – You are absolutely right about the power of a connection with one’s children. I tried to make it clearer by using the phrase “love relationship” but maybe this didn’t quite get the point across. While the attachment to children is powerful in it’s own right, a love relationship between two adults offers a different kind of connection that holds it’s own weight. In response to point #2, I completely agree about questioning the institution of marriage and I actually address this topic in my next blog. Stay tuned!
Benefits of DivorceMay 28th, 2013 at 1:27 AM
Going through a divorce can be difficult, especially if the separating spouses have been married for some time or have tried their best to salvage the relationship. However, if irreconcilable differences have arisen or if one of the spouses has been unfaithful, then a divorce may be a blessing for both parties. Despite this new direction their lives have taken, and the emotions that can accompany a divorce, for many divorcing couples, separating is the best option and brings with it a host of benefits.
Divorce is WrongJuly 25th, 2013 at 9:03 AM
While I appreciate Dr. Brosh’s article explaining the reasons for the hurtfulness of divorce, I do not agree with her opinion that “kids are most often even more resilient than their parents” (see comment #4). From my experience of being born to a mother who is a child from a divorced family, and of being current divorced by my husband who is also a child from a divorced family, I see divorce as a virus that destroys the very soul of our society like cancer destroys the body, and our legal system is doing nothing in relation to divorce to promote the values of justice or faithfulness. The effects of divorce on children are devastating, and they force children to develop all kinds of defence mechanism to protect themselves during this traumatic experience which often lasts most of their formatting years. These defence mechanisms while having short term benefits, often erodes the children’s self-esteem and hinders their growth and development in the later years. If you are interested in knowing more of the psychological effects of divorce on children, I found Breaking the Cycle of Divorce by John Trent PHD very helpful. The author is an adult child from divorced family too, and I found his views on these effects spot on with my mother and husband. In abandoning the institution of marriage and its sanctity, we are allowing our selfish pursuit of ‘happiness’ destroying our hope for true happiness and the moral psychological and spiritual wellbeing of our future generations. I agree with what Leo Tolstoy wrote: “If an individual or a whole society has problems, there is only one reason: lack of faith”. As with marriage, I think faith is especially important, because marriage does not make us happy, but makes us holy. In our currently not so faith-bound world, I hope the pain of divorce can awake us to God’s never-forsaking love for us and pass it on to our fellow human beings.
New Jersey Divorce LawyersSeptember 17th, 2013 at 10:53 PM
Divorce is really an painful and difficult process.
DeidraNovember 1st, 2013 at 2:18 PM
I have been divorced now for over 4 years and even with me being the person to leave the marriage it is a constant struggle. The what Ifs can plague you, but seeking solace in the blessings you still have is key. For those of you struggling it gets better and sometimes instead of taking it day by day you have to take it hour by hour.
GaryDecember 29th, 2013 at 2:53 PM
Eleven months into separation, I find myself looking at next month. I have made arrangements to have a mediator assist in the next step, Divorce. We, my wife and I, don’t really talk about the next next, however here we are. What I really need to say/ask/hear about, is that in a relationship about to end in divorce, there is your heart and your brain, they fight all the time, one of the many hard parts that I am experiencing is that we are booth here together but one is further ahead. I don’t mean that to sound like a foot race, just one of the partners has initiated the separation and appears to be able to move on or forward. Me personally, this whole loss of a true friend sucks.
AlleyJanuary 8th, 2014 at 8:23 PM
Thank you reading the article and comments made me feel less alone. It has been a week since my divorce was finalized. I was shocked by all the confusing emotion I felt even those I am the one that wanted the divorce and I know it is for the best.
AlleyJanuary 11th, 2014 at 11:20 PM
I agree with you. A parent child relationship is the strongest connection we have to another person. I lost my child five years ago and went through a divorce last year. Even thigh a divorce hurts it is no comparison to pain I feel about being separated from my son.
AlexJanuary 20th, 2014 at 9:59 AM
My divorce is only hours old. I left but the ocean of pain I find myself in is impossible. I miss my family so much (ex and our two beautiful pups) but left because of a lack of attraction. But I still miss them. Horrifically. Everyone says it gets better. I can’t imagine it at this stage. I just can’t
Marilyn ArellanesMarch 8th, 2014 at 5:08 PM
After reading this article, I am starting to feel better. I was very attached to my ex which is why it hurts so much. We made so many future plans and now that its over, they won’t take place.
DavidAugust 26th, 2014 at 11:58 AM
I know this post is almost 2 years old but it is timeless. I am in the midst of very painful divorce and it has opened up emotions I never knew I had. This article sums everything I’m feeling up and let’s me know that I’m not alone in feeling this way and that I will eventually heal.
BeanieAugust 30th, 2014 at 8:38 PM
I’m sure hard on both but not as hard or devastating as the one left. Especially if the other has moved onto another person or was cheating. Then said hurtful things they never apologized for. Marriage is full of choices you stay together and work hard. I think I feel bad for some who have lost their attraction to the other, that’s not really a choice. We often times pick and choose clothes and furniture based on looks such as a favorite color we cannot help what we like. Yet often times I hear of people falling out of love. I think that is a choice because you will always see the good and the things you love in the other no matter what. Choosing to stop seeing that person as the one is a choice. Especially when you only look at what you hate about them. When married often times that is what couples do. Try dating then you will see what I’m talking about you will only see their good and over time their flaws will emerge and bother you. Obviously being with someone for that long it becomes harder to appreciate them. Thus marriage is work and never to be entered into lightly. Divorce is basically the death of a loved one except their not physically dead. Unless you have children together you will basically never see them again and I think that’s just sad that’s an option so think before getting married.
Patty asksAugust 30th, 2014 at 8:56 PM
Patty’s Question: How do I deal with my husband of 25 years telling me that he didn’t love me and didn’t think he ever did? To add to the hurt, he admitted that he wasn’t attracted to me anymore because my stomach is so stretched out from being pregnant with our three kids and the colon cancer I had 8 years ago. He lied for years that that didn’t bother him. I am trying to hold it together for my kids, but I can’t function. He has seen a lawyer but nothing has been done yet because I begged him not to start the divorce just as I was going back to work. I truly love him with all my heart and I simply will never understand how he could just throw me away. I have always been faithful and I think he has too. My self-esteem and confidence has been totally destroyed and the loneliness is unbearable. HELP!!
Gloria’s Answer: My first simple and strong words of encouragement for you, Patty, are these: Hold to the truth!! The truth is, at one time or another over these past 25 years, he did love you, and he probably still does. The truth is your physical attractiveness may not always have bothered him, but now, for some reason, it is. The truth is YOU are a loving and caring wife and mother of 3 beautiful children who is an amazing survivor of colon cancer. The truth is life changes and we must change with it!
My second thought for you is to stop begging. Remember the wonderful, remarkable woman you are who works hard, loves much, and will survive this, too. Give yourself the respect that you truly deserve.
Third thought, take a look in the mirror and see if you like the physical parts of who you are. How do YOU feel about the body that you are living in? Are YOU happy with it or are there some things you’d like to work on? Empower yourself to exercise, diet, try a new skin care system, or do whatever is necessary to rebuild your own physical confidence.
The more beautiful you are to yourself by holding to the truth in every way, the more beautiful you will become to the world around you. And something tells me that your husband will notice it, too!
Dr. BroshAugust 31st, 2014 at 8:38 PM
First of all Patty, you were not thrown away you were left. Garbage is thrown away, but sometimes valuable pieces are not appreciated and often replaced. The pain you’re feeling is partly the disillusionment that comes with your life tragically changing, and partly due to your ego being crushed. This man has his own issues, and although it’s impossible not to take this personally you have to remember that your value is not defined by whether someone wants to remain married to you or not. You have a painful road ahead, but it’s nothing more tumultuous than what you’ve already endured. Draw on your survival strength, and remember that this is not life-threatening, just devastating.
JenniferSeptember 9th, 2014 at 6:15 PM
This article describes the depth of divorce pain so accurately. I’m still fresh, just reading about my own feelings brings me to tears.
DeeSeptember 11th, 2014 at 3:47 AM
My husband has filed for divorce after 25 years . The sick feeling in my stomach just doesn’t stop and the tears never end . Some days I don’t even know how I am getting out of bed . Rejection is a powerful reality and I can’t imagine staying in this condition . I won’t survive it . How long will I feel this bad.. Sorry to all those feeling this . It’s horrible .
V.September 30th, 2014 at 1:00 PM
Last week, my husband of 13 years filed for divorce. I felt so blind sighted. He said he felt trapped and hoped for “true love”. I cried and begged he consider counseling but his mind was made up. I said goodbye to the man I married years ago. This man is mostly thinking of himself. I have four beautiful children that will suffer. I am 36 years old. I am a fit mom even after four kids. I have been blessed with beautiful genes from my parents. All this doesn’t matter to him. I loved him immensely but now I’m so hurt. I know things will eventually work out but the “now” is undoubtedly a trial that I am suffering greatly from.
SylvanaOctober 3rd, 2014 at 9:15 PM
It’s been 4 years since my divorce my husband remarried 8 months after our divorce was finalized. The pain and hurt is still her after 4 years. I am very depressed I feel I will never find love again. This pain I will really like to end I don’t feel attractive. I sometime find myself praying that my ex husband would come back to me.I really need help
ShivaOctober 5th, 2014 at 7:56 PM
For me, it’s been 3 years And yet I could not even bear with the painful feeling. All I can do just give my self a little bit of patience And focus on the here and now, I have less time to think about the past.
When the past memories creep into your consciousness (as they are bound to do from time to time), acknowledge them for a moment. And then bring yourself gently back into the present moment. Some people find it easier to do this with a conscious cue, such as saying to yourself, “It’s alright. That was the past, and now I’m focused on my own happiness and doing _______________.”
CrisOctober 13th, 2014 at 2:36 PM
It hurts so badly to be discarded by my husband of 12 yrs (together for 17). I feel like I can’t go on and time is not healing. The loss of time with my 3 children is devastating, as are all the lost hopes and dreams for us as a family. My husband says he is still attracted to me but our marriage just wasn’t working for him. Wtf? He wants a divorce and I’m too over whelmed to face that reality and the finality of it all. It’s unfair to be in this position. How can someone be so selfish as to destroy 4 lives for his own benefit? He doesn’t have anyone else and seems to just want freedom. I’m trying to take it minute by minute.
CamiOctober 18th, 2014 at 6:40 PM
Cris, I am in the almost exact same situation as you. Been married 13 years with 3 kids and my husband has told me the same thing and I have the same feelings you do. Where does he get off thinking that this family is an option and that he can just toss us to the side because he has decided he doesn’t want to try to make this marriage work? How can someone be so selfish and cause so much pain to me and our 3 kids when we have done nothing but love and support him over the years? It’s devestating and I’m so fearful of the long term damage a divorce will do to these kids.
GeoffOctober 21st, 2014 at 1:59 PM
I am the guy doing exactly what is happening to you. I feel incredibly guilty. My wife is great – but – we have grown so far apart of 20 years it is really just become a series of tasks. Sex is non-existent, although we are both generally attractive. We both failed to fight for this. I am moving out next week.
There is no easy way to do this – but honestly I just want to be alone and participate as much as I can in my kids lives. I would take a bullet for all of them (wife included) but I am just not happy anymore and can’t believe I am doing this.
Sarah HurleyNovember 9th, 2014 at 8:35 AM
I have just separated from my husband and it seems we are on an unstoppable route to divorce. It was my decision to separate, he has drug and mental issues that I couldn’t live with any more due to the level of pain, unhappiness and dysfunction they were creating. I feel like a piece of utter s**t for leaving him when he is clearly in pain, but i tried everything i could to get him to get help, and he point blank refuses. I never wanted any of this. I left because I felt I had no choice, and i hoped that some time and space apart would help us to figure out a way forward. I never wanted a divorce, that has all come from him as he is so full of rage and hurt towards me for leaving. I feel utterly bereft, broken and desolate. I love him so much, he is my soul mate and I can’t imagine ever feeling happy or even normal without him. I keep reading people saying that they have never got over their divorce, and I cannot bear to live the rest of my life feeling like this. I don’t want to go back into a dysfunctional, unhappy marriage, but that option feels better to me right now than divorcing. Every possible option is a painful, awful one. I don’t know what to do.
SandyNovember 10th, 2014 at 8:11 PM
I must be different then most people here because I found divorce to be incredibly freeing. Married to a real jerk who was very abusive and sneaking around with other women, I prayed to God every day to save my marriage. I pleaded with my spouse to treat me right but he was a jerk from the start and I was just in denial. I was a virgin when I married him so due to my religious beliefs I was very confused since I was indoctrinated to believe that God would bless me for saving myself and I also had a baby boy who’s dad was not at all being a responsible father. As time went by, because he knew of my good Christian beliefs and refusal to leave him, he thought that I was just a rug to be kicked around and walked on and cheated on and he could still come home expecting a nice hot dinner and comfy home and sex.
Then one day after praying I had a very strong revelation. In the Bible 8 always thought I couldn’t get a divorce…but my pastor pointed out to me “except for marital unfaithfulness”. (Which is not merely sexual unfaithfulness but emotional and or physical abuse… And since I had tried for so long and he treated me so terribly …I WOKE UP.
Once this happened I came to my senses and stopped feeling sorry for myself. Marriage is supposed to two people who love each other working and playing together and being lovers and best friends. If this stops happening and your husband becomes very unresponsive and turns emotionally cruel and doesn’t want you anymore NO AMOUNT if whining and crying and throwing a guilt trip at them or telling them they are wrong for what they are doing is going to help you one bit. Do you want a lover or a damn prisoner! NO WONDER THEY LEFT!
Move on! Move forward! Get a life! Get over it! Stop wallowing in “feel sorry for myself land”. Face it. He doesn’t want you anymore or he’s a jerk! This is terrible for the kids! Who’s kidding who?
All my clinging to the hopes he was ever going to straighten up were a waste of my time and precious energy. Once I left him and took my son, he got his girlfriend pregnant and to tell the truth I was actually grateful. because he was such a selfish and cruel man that now I knew he’d be preoccupied elsewhere.
After the divorce I never saw him again and he abandoned our son. My son grew up without a dad for many years…grew up without a total abusive jerk as a dad. (Who later also abandoned his second wife and kids).
My son grew up to be a wonderful, handsome and successful man. My ex never paid child support or sent him a single birthday card ever. My son says he is very grateful that I left any man who would do that. My son is a very happy man with a beautiful fiancé now.
Why do you want these men? Why do you cling to the past, kids or no kids. When. Relationship disintegrates it happens for a reason. Many times women neglect their husbands until they drift off to another woman and then thy blame everyone else. Or in my case, you try everything to hold on to someone who’s not worth it.
If you got a dud, move on! Live! Let go of the past. (Throwing your angry bible at the man who left you to try to guilt him back isn’t love! It’s stupid! Love is kind. Love is not envious. Love is gentle…love is something beautiful and that’s want we have to be to be happy and to attract true love.
Many many years later I have found someone who really adores me for me. He was also cheated and emotionally abused by a spouse.
He also has kids and guess what…kids don’t have to be ruined by divorce! It’s our bitterness that hurts them. Our refusal to accept change and move forward and make the very best of life.
Life is short! You can’t make a man stay with you by begging and pleading or getting bitter and trying to guilt trip him into seeing what a sinner he is for leaving.
Let him to. Don’t interfere when he comes to visit the kids. Get help for yourself and maybe you’ll save your marriage by acting like a grownup. Maybe he’ll fall in love with your willingness to change or maybe you’ll both part ways even if you don’t want to but later find there is a better love you never even imagined who actually likes you. Maybe you’ll realize you like living alone…there are endless possibilities.
Life isn’t destroyed by divorce. It’s a temporary situation and it’s hey painful but if someone is so unhappy they want to leave you there is nothing right you can do to hold onto them and please don’t hurt your kids by using them to punish your ex. You are only being cruel to them when you do that.
Move on. It’s healthy and it gets better.
lorrie h.January 18th, 2015 at 11:59 AM
Wow!!! I’m in awe of Sandy’s comment. I TRULY NEEDED THIS!!!! I’ve been doing everything to save my marriage no matter my agonizing pain of despair and heartache. you see in October of 2014 my husband left me without a word took everything the car the money everything and left me with nothing but the why question I could not wrap my mind around it well then one day he got a hold of me and wanted to reconcile now he lives in another state which is Oklahoma so I agreed to that and I was getting ready to come down there at to him to throw me away again kick me to the curb whatever so I actually live it all over again so I am actually started doing all the therapy and self-help things I could do to save my marriage because I feel like I love him and I did not want to go against God I do not want to go against God but this man tells me its always my fault and he never accept responsibility for anything so I thank you for this and I’m not trying to say that its only his fault I mean I’ve had a trying life I was molested as a young girl by a grown man I was abducted when I was 11 walking home from school I was in a very severely abusive marriage for 10 years I I buried a son, and when I was 26 I was abducted raped beaten and stabbed and left to die and I have survived all of that but for some reason I cannot seem to get out of this severe depression this time and I don’t leave my home I don’t leave my room I cry constantly , cannot work and beg God to take my pain I’m just desperate I don’t know I don’t know what to do. I’ve only been married to the man a year. I’ve always been so happy during all my trials and tribulations in life and I have found the blessing in all of it and I know that there is a blessing to come of this I just don’t know how to let go of this man one of my children came to me and took me by the shoulders and told me to snap out of it that this man is aging me and making me miserable… at once when I met him he didn’t work he hasn’t worked our entire relationship so I asked him why he left me how you could do that and he said he want to better himself so he says that he recently he’s been working last 2 months and that he is found Jesus so I guess I’m a little bit upset I was sad that I wasn’t worth all of that but and I know I need out of this I thank you,thank you very much I needed to hear this. I’m hoping that if I just keep reading your words that it will come and I can get that through my head because I’m educated im above average looking very strong at one time.
S. S.February 19th, 2015 at 9:38 AM
Last October my same-sex partner of 19 years informed me that he no longer wanted to continue in our relationship. He no longer saw me as his future life partner. He felt that the love connection was lost and that now we simply coexisted as friends. Despite several pleadings and one begging for reconciliation, he was resolute that we should separate. I didn’t see any of this coming and was in complete despair over the “hit and run” separation executed by my partner, a psychiatrist.
It is now 4 1/2 months later. The denial/disbelief is over, the anger is over, the crying is over. Yet there are still days when a piercing pain penetrates through me. I am left without a home (I’ve left him) and have ended a number of friendships with people who continue to support him.
I can forgive his decision to end our relationship. I can forgive his affair. I can forgive the fact that he conducted the affair in our family home. I can forgive the fact that he gave his heart to someone else. But I am finding his duplicity – the fact that he started a new life while still in our relationship – unforgivable.
How can I get over his duplicity? My ex is already involved in a realationship he began two months after dumping me, while I am still picking up the pieces of my life. How is it that he could easily leave a 19 year relationship while I am finding it so difficult to let go? It seems that there is no justice in my circumstance.
LisaFebruary 21st, 2015 at 3:30 PM
Your situation is identical to mine. I have been married for 29 years, I don’t want this divorce he does. He has been cheating for 3 years and I still love him. He wants out. All I do is cry, don’t eat, just want my life back. I can’t deal with this. When will I stop hurting? I don’t want anyone else, hate being alone. Life feels like it is over. All I can say is why does he not want me.
SusanMarch 7th, 2015 at 1:14 AM
I’m divorcing my husband of 27 years. Four years ago he tried to kill me in a jet ski accident, broke my bones but failed. He said it was an accident but never apologized. Sinister ! I can’t wrap my head around why he wanted to kill me? Money? Affair? He has since sabotaged my life and undermined me with our children! I feel like I married Dr. Jekyll and ended up with Mr. Hyde!!! Truly a nightmare! I pray for answers… There’s none….
Joe pMarch 13th, 2015 at 5:32 PM
After reading all the different comments I realize every situation is different and grants different opinions. My wife and I have been together for almost 10 years. Married for 9 of those. We started out in a drug Infested life trying to save one another. Ended up getting very involved In her fathers church and getting totally sober for 8 years. We have had a lot of horrible fights and hurts towards one another. And we always picked up and moved on. With 2 kids involved that were my stepsons , I found good reason to fight for us everything. They had a bad start at life. 3 yrs ago my wife cheated on me with a dear friend of mine in the church. Totally crushed me spiritually and emotionally. I gave us another chance. One last chance I told my self. And we moved forward and ended up buying a home and started building a new life. All this while still no real apology of the cheating. Although life looked and seemed great because of our accomplishments , I still have never gotten over the hurt and trust issues generated. In the past 8 months I caught her in many lies and a lot of communication with different men. Obviously furthering my trust issues. She had never been an affectionate person and that has been a struggle since day one. I finally made a decision last week that enough is enough and making the choice to stay in this marriage for my stepsons and her well being was not fair anymore with the pain and loneliness I deal with on a daily basis. I love her more then I’ve ever loved anyone in my life. And to think of life changing scares me to death and hurts so bad. But I feel this is the only option anymore. And honestly I feel like a horrible person for making a decision to try and find a way to be happy in life. Divorce has to be one of the most difficult things I’ve ever experienced. Probably worst then death of a loved one. Once they are gone you do not see them anymore. In the case of divorce you still see them and feel the connection. Agghhhhh this is messed up
EricMarch 26th, 2015 at 3:22 PM
My wife of 18yrs is doing the same exact thing to me. We are both 39 and have 4 beautiful children. I’m so hurt right now. This pain is unbearable.
ChaneyApril 17th, 2015 at 4:52 AM
My ex husband came home one day and over his birthday dinner his exact words were “I’ve found my out”. That was back in Oct 2011 in front of our 5 year old.
I did literally fall off my chair, My heart physically broke in front of him. It was painful, I lost 45lbs in 2 months. I found out he had been having an emotional affair for 3 years previously with a work colleague.
He met someone only 3 months later, he filed for divorce, they are now married But no matter what I do to move on – I’ve tried going out on dates, getting a catholic annulment, trying new hobbies, travelling – the unconditional love is still there, my broken heart is still broken. I love him terribly and miss him so. I still cry every week. And would gladly welcome him home to be a family again after all this time :'(
Joe38April 23rd, 2015 at 5:12 AM
I know what you mean by unconditional. This sounds a lot like me, although my experience is recent. My wife had an emotional affair with our crossfit instructor, and has left me for him. Divorce final yesterday. I also want to pursue a catholic annulment. I don’t feel as though I will bounce back anytime soon, although I’d like to. We have two sweet little daughters. I’m so heartbroken. Trying my best.
SusanApril 24th, 2015 at 6:14 AM
Yes you worded that well! In my case my soon to be ex husband ‘knows’ he abruptly took that ‘safety’ away and revels in my pain :(
JMay 5th, 2015 at 1:18 AM
I feel very lost and very broken…not because he left me but because I had to take my my kids and leave him.I have endured so much pain from him yet my heart was still so willing to fight for what I desperately wanted…and that was my family. I’ve learned that I cannot make a man cherish/love me, nor will he honor and respect a marriage if he just simply has no desire to b married. I held on to the belief that we could b fixed if he truly surrendered himself to God so that he could b shown how to b the leader of his home…but again u cannot make anyone want something for themselves when they see no need to have it. There have been years of lies, emotional infidelity, porn addiction, deceit and broken trust…and complete refusal to ever take ownership and fix the aspects of the relationship he broke. Manipulation was rampant, and he would sing his sad sob story to anyone that would listen. I was expected to just let him do what he wanted whenever he wanted and not ever question him about it. I got to a point of just being tired…I’m carrying our 3rd child together and he has completely let me do it alone which has been so painful… Im his wife, how am I being treated like a random person he got pregnant? My children hurt because of the brokeness but I had no other choice but to remove myself from a situation that was sucking the life from me. I just don’t understand y my being gone hurts even more now. He does not communicate with me, and has completely tossed me to the side while he lives life freely. It hurts to see him prosper while I suffer…to see him not even phased when I’m so broken.I thought I was a good wife, I thought I was someone worth having and keeping by his side. I loved him to no end and still do, completely faithful to him and our family and gave him as many chances as he needed to finally get it together… He just didnt see us as worth it. In spite of all he’s done, the devastation hits like bricks at knowing I’m losing my dream of a family, especially when I’m giving birth in a matter of days. Please pray for me and my children as I will have to navigate this road alone and I’m terrified. I got married to have “forever”…and I’m so angry that he made the choice for both of us to so selfishly cut that short and think nothing of it.
Vaneshia EMay 9th, 2015 at 3:25 PM
I’m praying for you!! I cried reading while reading this because this exactly where I’m at right now. Some days the pain is unbearable but I know I did the right thing by leaving. I thought marriage was forever but I found out differently. God will see us through. Keep the faith
Vaneshia EMay 9th, 2015 at 3:29 PM
Praying for you. I know exactly how you feel.
SalmanMay 10th, 2015 at 5:10 PM
Hi since everyine is spilling their guts I figured i would too . Was married for 15 years. Loved my wife and pretty sure she loved me. Have two kids and a good job as well as her. We have zero financial problems (although I could have been less of a cheap ass) but could have given her more of the lifestyles of the rich and famous. I smoke pot every day at night after the kids are asleep and had kept that hidden the whole time. As soon as she found out she tried to get me to stop but I didnt. You know the rest of the story. I feel like a complete failure even though financially I am not . I pay her like $2000 month in child support just so you know I’m not a scumbag . I don’t care about money or material things and because of those tendencies people (my family especially ) make me feel like a failure.
I don’t know how I’m supposed to live the rest of my life now without the woman that I love. I’m hurting real bad .
Middle aged and scared in Miami
Melvin M.May 17th, 2015 at 9:39 PM
We should get together and smoke and talk about this because this is the most emotionally dark thing I’ve ever had to experience.
Melvin M.May 17th, 2015 at 9:54 PM
Dude I am going through this exact same situation but its been moe like 6 years. I feel horrible but the feeling isn’t the same anymore. I’m tiref of arguing in front of my kids….it’s the worst.
SyedMay 18th, 2015 at 9:05 AM
Yea dude anytime. I am sure it will help both of us.
NishaMay 24th, 2015 at 10:29 PM
I feel your pain, i am going through exactly what you going through. Been six months since divorce, my baby was a 1yr old at the time we divorced and 2 days after leaving home my husband starting dating my best friend. I have so many unanswered questions, were they seeing each other while I was still married but he refuses to talk to me. He spoils her rotten while I can barely manage a meal a day, I was a dedicated house wife for 12 years and now can’t find a job and he refuses to help except pathetic maintenance that he pays. My child of 5 supposed to be in Gr R and she can’t attend school, can’t afford it. I can’t stop hurting and worrying how to get around this situation. Im sorry for what you going through and pray that we will have the courage live, love and be happy again.
LisaMay 26th, 2015 at 8:29 AM
A year ago my husband came home in a weird mood. I asked what was wrong…he said we would talk later, after the kids were asleep. After bedtime we were watching TV and I asked if he wanted to talk. He said we needed to move (buy a new house) because there were too many “bugs” and we needed to start over. I was confused and asked him to elaborate. He got an “emergency” call from work and had to leave (at 10pm). While he was gone I sent him a text asking if he was cheating on me (not even sure what made me ask). He replied “Emotionally, not physically” and said he’d be right home.
In the 24 hours after that he admitted to “talking to/seeing” a girl that works for him. He and I were 34, the girl was 22. He said they’d been talking for a few months, and he was in love with her. He said he loved me, but felt like he would be “jipping himself” if he didn’t see where things went with her. He admitted later to sleeping with her. I begged him to stay…to try to work it out. Admitted where I failed as a wife, and told him I knew I could do better…and believed he could too. He told me he loved me, but felt like he had to go. He moved out, into an apartment around the corner from our house. She moved into his apartment building a week or two later (not his apartment, but in the building). I tried everything I could to convince him not to move forward, but he did anyway. I maintained a friendly relationship with him (even though it was killing me).
I filed for divorce and asked him (many times) if he was sure this is what he wanted. He said yes. Fast forward a few months…the girl is no longer part of his life and he wants to come home. Says he was never truly in love with her, and realizes now what a mistake he made. He loves me more than anything in the world, and wants me to believe we could be even better than our best before the affair. I said no.
He’s relentless now. Threatening to cut off child support if I don’t let him come home. Threatening to hurt any man who comes near me. Telling our children that I’m the reason he can’t come home. All peppered with “I love you, I miss you, you’re the woman I want/need, I’ve changed, it will be better”. Kindness, then bullying. Love, then hate. It’s so emotionally traumatic for so many reasons.
I can’t continue to let him torment me, but I know as soon as I stop being kind he’s going to make me his enemy and try to destroy any happiness I find. He created this mess, and he keeps acting like its my fault. I don’t want to be enemies…and I don’t want to be his wife…I’m damned no matter what! – Feeling so hopeless!
May 26th, 2015 at
Thank you for your comment, Lisa. We wanted to provide links to some resources that may be relevant to you here. We have more information about emotional abuse at http://www.goodtherapy.org/therapy-for-emotional-abuse.html and additional information about what to do in a crisis at http://www.goodtherapy.org/in-crisis.html
The GoodTherapy.org Team
SyedMay 26th, 2015 at 10:40 AM
Don’t show any signs of weakness. File a restraining order against him. Afterwards, explain to him that if he stops the child support you will have him put in jail.
Make sure he knows you mean business and that you won’t be taking any threats lightly.
Hope that helps.
SusanMay 26th, 2015 at 6:43 PM
Hi Nisha! You have a very sad story too! It must be difficult with a child to take care of. Would you like to email me. We can be friends:) I am on Facebook too. Let me know. God Bless.
Alberta KJune 1st, 2015 at 11:10 AM
It really is nearly unattainable to encounter well-advised americans on this theme, then again you seem like you fully grasp those things you’re revealing! Cheers
RafealJuly 8th, 2015 at 9:56 PM
Sorry to hear about your sad predicament. I feel nowadays no human being is worthy of true love. Forget about that b****** and move on. And never love anyone truly again. Work on yourself and find another guy who’s way better than him… and on this occasion, treat him like s***; believe me, he’ll always wiggle his tale like a dog. Keep him like that. He’ll remain your obedient, subservient slave. Remember again: no Human being deserves true love these days.
ColetteJuly 10th, 2015 at 11:45 AM
I am a 56 year old who was divorced 4 years ago after 31 years of marriage. My marriage was difficult, I was lonely, my former husband is a bit of a bore; but I had supported his professional pursuits which included obtaining a PhD, and several false starts in his career, we enjoyed our sexual interactions, he is smart and handsome, and I truly believed that loves wins. I went to therapy to work on ‘my’ unhappiness, yadda yadda. Well, when he left me for a younger woman and just before his career took off, I can tell you my entire sense of purpose vanished. I do not know what to do with the fury, and resentment. I know that it does me no good to hold onto to these emotions, but there does not seem to be any bottom to the well of disappointment. I can’t focus on myself, live in terror about my future, and resent all the platitudes about the great adventure that lies ahead. Men my age want to date women in their 30’s. My professional life is in flux, I have no big shot resume, having worked in a service industry to support my family while my husband found his feet. I just cannot believe I did the traditional wife thing. I have a mind, but it was eclipsed my fantasies of happy ever after.
The next divorced man with a young woman on his arm who suggest this is a great opportunity is risking his life.
OK. Yes, it is about attachment. My early childhood relations were not supportive. Knowing all that I know about my human foibles, and living in a middle aged body leave me pretty certain there is no golden path awaiting me.
But it did feeling really good to vent just now. Thanks for that.
JohnathanJuly 17th, 2015 at 5:04 PM
I got married in June of 2013 and in October of that same year my wife put me out and said she wanted a divorce. The reason she said at our divorce hearing in March of 2014 in a room full of complete strangers was immaturity. Two years later I still haven’t gotten over it and don’t ever know if I will. That was the hardest time of my life. I had taken on two jobs during our marriage and I ended up leaving one to go back to school only to lose the other one a week or so later and that same day she put me out. I had no where to go and if it hadn’t been for my parents then I would have been sleeping in my car. I did all I could to save my marriage but it was like she was a different person. To this day I remember everything she said to me and I can’t forget it. I remember she told me that I wasn’t worth fighting for and a few days later I tried to take my own life because it hurt that much to have someone who you said something as sacred as your vows to treat you like that. I’m a fairly handsome young man but the thought of trying again is hard for me. I have friends who have told me that I did all I could do to save my marriage so I can’t feel bad but if that was the result then what faith do I have in trying again. I forgave my ex but I’m messed up on the inside. I can’t say I remember the last time I was happy since then. I honestly don’t know what to do because most days I just want release from the pain. Not suicide but just fast forward to the day when all of this makes sense or it no longer hurts or both.
do it your self divorce in albertaJuly 27th, 2015 at 1:44 PM
Divorce is really an painful and difficult process.
Katie m.August 13th, 2015 at 10:54 AM
It’s been 6 yrs since my divorce after 29 yrs of marriage. I was absolutely devastated and still am heartbroken. I just cannot believe that my ex feels nothing about me or the past we had together. He remarried his high school sweetheart and totally ignores me. When I reacted in anger and emailed him he went to the police saying I was threatening his new wife. How can he just walk away with no regrets or remorse?
SusanAugust 13th, 2015 at 2:41 PM
I feel for you Katie. It’s heart wrenching. I’m going through a similar break up too. Mine was 28 years total, seperated for 1 year now. He was cheating also but with more than one I believe. My story is sad and bizarre.. but I really feel for you. Oh Katie I hope God looks on you with great compassion and mercy and convicts your husband to return to you. The bible says we are to be married for life! Till death do us part! The betrayal hurts after being married for sooooo long. I’m going to pray for you Katie. Hugs.
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