I always said that it would never happen to me. It wasn't an option, even. It's what my wife said as well -- significant since she was a child of divorce. Not me, however. I had great parents and a strong family. I had a good church and good friends. We've been separated over a year now and divorced for about a month. During this time I've had many opportunities to reflect on what happened and why. Here's what I've come up with so far -- both to satisfy your curiosity and hopefully help others avoid it.
Prior to our marriage I was heavily involved in Promise Keepers at my church. I went every year for maybe six years and also went to the big Stand in the Gap rally in DC. I was also involved with my church's men's ministry, as well as the youth and other ministries. At this point, the best I can do is associate it with attending many football camps and reading many books on football. I had the academic knowledge down fairly well, I thought. I thought that I'd be so prepared that when I did get married I'd be able to hit the field running, so to speak.
Let's stick with the football analogy. It works for me, anyway!
Prior to getting married I studied all the plays and strategies, and was familiar with all of the exercises and work-outs involved. I had a pretty good understanding of what it took to play football (don't forget -- it's an analogy!). After our engagement, I let some of my discipline slip. I didn't spend as much time in the Word. I was not a spiritual leader. I let her dictate too much of such things. In short, I didn't put into practice what I had learned. I took it for granted, I guess, and still figured that I knew enough to be a starting quarterback.
After our marriage, I still had that confidence, but did very little in the way of practicing and working out. I didn't assert leadership -- seldom anyway -- because it was often met with resistance. I can't speak to why -- I can only speak to me. But probably the biggest problem was that I let a bad habit linger on into my marriage. What it is isn't important -- suffice it to say that it was not beneficial to my marriage. In fact, it was quite counterproductive and detrimental.
We went to counseling often. Call it "meetings with the coach." But more often than not the focus was turned onto the other person rather than internally. It's like a player telling the other players what they're doing wrong rather than focusing on their own game. It breeds animosity and divisiveness and accomplishes nothing good.
Throughout our short yet long five years, there were many things I did wrong or could have done better. I knew that. But didn't do anything to address them. Well, I did -- off and on. But never enough too really full-out address the problem.
So -- now we have a quarterback who brought into the game a bad habit that distracts him from his game, who does not take sufficient leadership -- despite the resistance, who does not put himself into practice and preparation, who does not seek the advice or input of the coach, and who failed to fully address problems in his game. Sounds like Ryan Leaf or someone like that to me. Lots of potential. Little payoff.
Now I'm not saying that it's all my fault. Far from it. But as the man -- as the spiritual leader -- I must take full responsibility. As a team -- you can't have an offense without a defense, and vice versa. Both parties are needed. Needed.
Ultimately, it all fell apart. And, from my perspective, it was an opening that had been anticipated. Probably not consciously, but it was certainly pounced upon.
So -- lest I ramble on, which I have a bad habit of doing -- the morale? You are never ready for marriage. A wedding is an event. To marry is an action. Marriage is a process. It requires a great deal of commitment and pain. The quarterback, the husband, has to be able to take hits -- both from his spouse (it happens), his friends, society, and, of course, the devil. He has to listen to his coach -- God. He has to immerse himself in the game plans -- the Bible. He can never get complacent and think that because he's read all the books he's got it made. Or that because he was a great high school quarterback (boyfriend) he'll be a great pro quarterback (husband).
The great ones always practice and are never satisfied. They are consummate leaders, even if it means temporary strife with his teammates. And they will take a shot for the team. They'll sacrifice their body for a win. "They" are not important -- only the team.
So.. there's certainly more to my divorce than stated here. There was no adultery on my part. There was no violence. There was none of the "big stuff". But it's seldom the big stuff that does someone in. It's the little things.
And when the quarterback fails -- no matter how much he is at fault -- the team pays. That's the hardest part. I love my kids more than anything. If it's possible to love them too much -- I do. And now I only see them every other weekend. 52 days a year. Out of 365. I'm supposed to be able to talk to them in the evenings, but there's issues there. I'm supposed to be able to see them on Thursdays, but there's issues there as well.
The devil knows where to hit us where it hurts the most. And where it leaves the most damage. It is definitely avoidable. But it takes a team, and it takes a humble team leader -- one who listens and follows what the coach preaches.