Heart pounding, Linda Rooks watched her husband's car disappear around the corner. Through 27 years of marriage, she and Marv had always agreed divorce would never be part of their vocabulary. Though their marriage had become increasingly turbulent over the past two years, including a brief separation, she was shocked that he'd not only packed and left but stated the unthinkable: "I want a divorce." "It felt as if my world was falling apart," she recalls.
That day in 1995 was the beginning of a difficult journey. For the first four months, Linda and Marv didn't even see each other. Unable to communicate with him, she journaled her anger and grief. Why won't he talk to me? she agonized. What am I going to do?
Devastated, Linda talked with a church counselor."Most couples don't really want to divorce the person," he told her. "They want to divorce the form of the marriage and what it's become."
"It got me thinking," she says. "I started to read marriage books and for the first time realized I was responsible for some of the problems in our marriage. My husband had things he needed to work on—but so did I."
As Linda began to change her behavior—praising more and criticizing less—Marv slowly responded by making changes in himself. They attended counseling sessions and worked on improving communication and resolving conflict. Though still separated, they went out regularly to dinner or a movie, rebuilding their friendship.1