I spotted this post by Faith Allen on her blog recently, and have been enjoying the various comments that came pouring in.
In it she talks about how healing has become a challenge within her marriage because she is not the wife her husband expects her to be any more. She has been spending her time healing from her child abuse, and becoming a stronger and more independent woman, and that’s not who he married. I can identify with what she is going through, because I went through a similar experience.
As I began healing, being married actually became quite a problem for me. Not necessarily because my marriage was horrible, but because trying to be the husband my wife expected me to be, and allowing myself the freedom to heal and change created a huge internal conflict.
As it turned out, in my case, that conflict became the source of even more depression and mental health issues, causing my wife to decide she couldn’t stay and watch me make myself worse. In essence, she solved the conflict for me, by filing for divorce. Not every marriage that experiences this sort of issue fails in the way mine did, but it is a challenge.
Healing requires us throwing off some of our old coping mechanisms and learn to become full-fledged adults. That adult is going to be a different person than the one you were when you first got married. It’s not that this new, healthy, person is worse, or a bad spouse or anything along those lines. They’re just different. In my case, it means wanting different things from life than my wife did. I suddenly felt pulled away from the lifestyle and views she held very dear. I was no longer what the kind pf man she wanted to spend her life with. I think I sensed that as I healed. I was moving away from the religious views that had been a very important part of our marriage, (Not religion or spirituality in general, but away from the specific church that we were heavily involved in) and away from the sort of family life that was important to her. Attempting to somehow reach a compromise within myself and heal while remaining that guy was a horrible, horrible idea!
Some marriages survive this sort of thing. Sometimes a spouse can change along with the one who is healing, and they both can become better for each other than they were before. Sometimes you just can’t. It doesn’t always mean that you’re a failure or that the marriage is a failure. It’s ok to simply want something out of life that your spouse doesn’t want anymore, and it’s ok for them to be free to find what they were looking for. I don’t resent my first wife for leaving me when I was at the lowest point in my life. I’m grateful that she set me free to heal and have the wonderful life I have now. Hopefully she has been able to pursue the life she wanted as well, the one I could no longer give her.
On the other hand, if you can heal and stay married, more power to you. I can only imagine that having gone through all of that with a supportive spouse is an amazing experience, but I also know it was probably very hard, and not for everyone!
As I’ve said many times, we’re all different as survivors, and for those who are healing, and married, your marriages are all different too. There’s no telling where it’ll end up, but know that as long as you pursue healing, you’ll be better off, regardless of what happens!