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How I Ruined My Marriage

How I Ruined My Marriage

One divorced woman’s cautionary tale
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My Christian marriage, which lasted almost 19 years, ended last year. Our separation and the year since the divorce have given me plenty of time to sit with my part in the demise of my marriage.

I, of course, also gave plenty of thought—obsessive amounts of thought—to my husband's role in our breakup, but as I am learning and relearning, there is always more than one side to each story. In fact, I believe there are three sides to every story . . . yours, mine, and God's (otherwise known as the truth). Then within each of those three sides, there's also my perception of each, your perception of each, and again, the truth.

I come to you, baring my soul and my faults in whispers. I am ashamed of myself and the ways I behaved during that union. And yet I come to warn you. My desire is to elevate the beauty of Christian marriage in our culture. So I come bearing the knowledge that only someone whose hard marriage ended has acquired. Please listen with an open heart, not necessarily to who I am and what I did wrong, but to see if you recognize yourself in the ways I related.

I yelled. A lot.

I looked out for "number one" and tried to protect her (me).

I was cruel and self-serving and critical with my words. Probably daily.

I looked out for "number one" and tried to protect her (me).

I didn't serve my then-husband enough.

I didn't build him up enough.

I didn't let him be who he wanted to be.

I cared much more about my living in perpetual pain than I did about the pain my then-husband was living in.

I didn't respect him. Let me take a moment with this one. I used to argue that once I felt he deserved respect, I'd begin to respect him. I now believe that there are two kinds of respect. There is earned respect and there is role-expected respect. For instance, I might not respect President Such-&-Such, but if he walked into the room, you'd better believe I'd stand and probably clap just because of his role. So if nothing else, I withheld role-expected respect.

I wanted the pain to stop, but I didn't want to have to do the hard work it would take to get us to the other side. (I did end up doing the huge amounts of hard work, but not until 15 years in.)

I prayed for him and I prayed for us, but I didn't do so enough. And when I prayed, the prayers said things like help me . . . change him . . . release me.

Harder to identify

Now things take a slightly different turn. With the above list, I was aware that I was messing up all the time. The list that follows are things that I didn't know how to do any differently until it was too late. These things used to not feel like things I was doing wrong.

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June 22, 2014  4:40pm

I liked your honesty. I like that you sayyour faults in the marriage instead of attempting the blame game. However, there is something that is either missing here or terribly wrong. You asked God for forgiveness but aren't you now going to follow through with christian behavior? Of course, this means working towards the restoration of your marriage and stopping the line of sin. You must show works of faith. God is the restorer, reconciler and we must follow in his footsteps. He is a joiner of people and families. You've humbled yoursekfto an extent but to respect your husband and your faith, now comes the hard part....restoring what God blessed you with. You say its not too late for the readers...do you not think God can fix yours?

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MONIQUE R Yamashita

April 18, 2014  6:53pm

Thank you for this thoughtful and humble article. After reading it I felt very convicted of my own responsibility in the destruction of my marriage that ended in divorce. For years I tried to blame my husband for the hurt, pain, & devastation. There's a catch, I'm a believer and he is not. I went into the marriage with this set up & it should never have fazed me that he wouldn't align himself to my belief system. I backslid so many times. I was a horrible example of Christ in our marriage, such a hypocrite in so many ways. There was infidelity on both sides but I was the first to sin this way. I've been divorced now 9 months and I'm the one who initiated the divorce. I was so moved & convicted by this article as it deeply convicted me of my selfishness and cowardliness. I have asked the Lord to forgive me but as important I wrote a letter to my ex-husband asking him for forgiveness. I take complete responsibility for the loss of my marriage-we are called to a higher standard

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March 11, 2014  1:35pm

I read the book about Respect mentioned in one of the posts above. Obviously, didn't help in that husband has substance abuse problems & after 31 yrs. marriage I see no change. He was an alcoholic for most of the marriage. He ended up in the hospital w/ pancreatitis several times. Doctors said he cannot drink anymore, so he changed "drugs." Unbelievable. I am standing my ground this time & told him to leave. I've enabled long enough. Prayed forever. No change.

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