I am in my early 50s with three kids in college/high school. I was separated for a decade and am now finally divorced. I had hoped – up until the final court day – that we would figure it out. There was no infidelity, no substance abuse. When my ex made his announcement that he "no longer wanted to be married," he offered no opportunity for counseling or reconciliation.
We had a good family, a good marriage on many levels, but it was far from perfect. I'd always known that there were issues under the surface, but I could never get him to talk about them. He had very high expectations for me in terms of my appearance, the house, etc., but no appreciation for the circumstances that kept me from focusing on how I looked. It would be very easy to judge him and say that he was superficial, but that would be missing a lot of complexity. He had extreme anxiety issues that drove a lot of his need for things to look perfect. For instance, I could leave the dishes in the sink and not have a nervous breakdown. I had no problem walking away from them and getting up early the next morning and taking care of it then. He could not.
I would tell him that I'd already done a thousand things that day, and that I had to skip one task. If he wanted to clean the dishes, great, but if he didn't, I would not hold it against him. This attitude would infuriate him. I could not get him to meet with a therapist to help resolve any of these issues.
The bottom line: I want to know how I can move on. I love this man. Love our life. I still am obsessed with the "fix" for the problem and trying to find the right words, the right combination of actions to make this better. People tell me I'm crazy to want him back after he left me so utterly devastated. Help me get to a better place with this, please.
– Better place
I agree with the people in your life and believe you can be much happier without your ex-husband. But I understand why you're having trouble letting go. You have three kids with this person, and I have to imagine that life with him was often great.
Also, you spent years trying to make it all better – you were on a mission – and that kind of project can become a routine. A habit. It's not an easy cycle to break.
You mentioned therapy – that you wish your ex had been open to it. I hope that means you've committed to therapy on your own. If you're already getting that kind of help, make sure it's clear that you want to learn to let go. No more processing what happened like it's your job; what you want right now is tools for saving yourself from the hamster wheel in your brain.
It might also help to bring some new people into your life who don't know you as half of that marriage. Maybe you can make some time to take a class, try a new hobby, etc. You can introduce yourself as a single person – just you – and enjoy your new place in the world. Sometimes being with a new group clarifies who you want to be.
Readers? Thoughts on how to move on?