Stop the Divorce
Stop the Divorce: Now, I am not saying that you are thinking the wrong thing. In fact, I am glad you are considering divorce. I don't think you would be thinking of this step , if things were going well. I bet things are going really badly. I bet you have lost, or are very near to giving up, hope. I tend to believe you are thinking divorce as a last and worst choice.
I rejoice that you are still wanting to go for a better marriage that then one you have got. I am very happy that you still have that image, that dream, of a “great marriage.” On the other hand, I doubt that you want to live alone forever, and besides I don't believe you are designed for living alone.
I strongly believe that your “dream of a great marriage” is do-able. It can be accomplished. And I really want you to get it. But where do you go from here, when it seems hopeless?
What I encourage you to do is “divorce the relationship you have had, but not necessarily the person you are having it with!” I encourage you to “get the benefits of living alone, while living with someone.” It means nothing more than work and learning and work and practice.
Remember, “doing what you are currently doing is getting you what you have – hopelessness. You have to do something else.” It is often cheaper/easier to learn new things with this partner than going out and finding a new partner, then going through the whold thing again. Change that mess. Work, learn, work, practice.
I have seen thousands of couples and helping people make better marriages is a joy to me. (Learn more about me and my wife, Sandra.)
All couples I have seen get to the point where they don't have the tools to fix the problems they have. They solve what they know how to, sure. But they are left with those nasty problems for which they were not taught the tools. So before you divorce, start learning new tools.
You might start by going to my Main Page to get an idea of this website. I've also created a page of One-Liners that have helped me and that I share. You get explanations for those ideas by clicking on them. You might want to start with the page I created to guide people at this site. You might want to jump right in to learning what is going on in marriages and what to do. Or perhaps you want a specific answer to a specific problem. Try searching the site, or look at my page on solving problems.
When in doubt, email me,Al Turtle. I will try to direct you.
As a gift, I want you to get the marriage of your dreams and I believe that
“It takes one to make a marriage and two to make a divorce. ”
So go for it?
Yes, I wish I could pull the plug from this relationship, but some questions keep popping up in my mind and
1. I ask myself over and over again “what do I want from a relationship exactly?
2. What is that vague feeling of “something is missing” between us?
3. Why I don’t feel connected with my husband (and think I never did)? “.
4. Is it just that we matured differently?
5. Do you think there exists that undefined “something” that makes two people attracted to each other, fall in love with each other in the beginning of a relationship?
6. Do you think that “that something” is a prerequisite to forming a relationship?
7. or can you work on any relationship and become connected emotionally with anyone matching some decent criteria that come from your conscious mind (without having felt that something in the beginning?
8. Can you imagine somebody living such a false life, so disconnected from herself, that when she married it had nothing to do with what she wanted and felt? (because she didn’t have any clue about what she wanted or felt?).
9. And now it feels like I woke up a in strange world, married to a nice man whom I wouldn’t choose a second time.
A lot of questions… maybe I should move them on the forum…
I wish I could keep this relationship, for not to hurt our kid… but that is not enough for me. It’s not satisfying enough – I want a relationship for the sake of the connection, of love, not for kids.
10. You Al, divorced your first wife. And eventually started searching for somebody else. Why did you choose your second wife from the many women you got a date with?
11. Did you feel “that something” grow between you, did you feel you could connect with her on a deep level, or was it more like a conscious, logical choice (based on qualities and values etc)?
Hello Marta, I thought your questions all were good so I broke up you piece and numbered the questions. When I was struggling in my 2nd marriage, when I thought it was falling apart just as my first one had, I asked a lot of the same questions. At that point I had no answers. Now I have lots. Here goes.
No. 1. I believe that “everyone” is built with the same answer to this question – you, me, your husband, everyone. The answer is bound to the biology of our bodies and brains. When I figured it out, around 1998, I called in the Biological Dream. I think of this answer as elegant in its simplicity. I’ve taught it and tested it and all these years later I still think it’s pretty good. I have numerous friends who think it is the best thing I ever came up with. Try it for size.
No. 2. That old vague feeling of “something missing.” Actually I think the source of that collection of feelings comes from a) many awarenesses of missing out on something, and b) almost no training on how to describe these feelings. E.g. If you haven’t felt safe all your life, how do you describe the feeling of missing safety – safety which your body (Lizard) requires. If you’ve never trusted anyone, how do you describe to yourself the feeling of missing out on reliable community – which your body (mid-brain) requires. How do you describe the sense of not being best buddies with your partner, when people tell you not to expect that feeling, and you totality needs it. etc.
No. 3. Just cuz you don’t feel connected doesn’t mean you don’t want connection badly. Most people I meet yearn for connection (enough but not too much) and have terrible skills at achieving that. Connection has a lot to do with intimacy. If you knew how to achieve intimacy with him, you would have done it by now. So you don’t feel it cuz you don’t know how, haven’t learned how, and haven’t applied that learning — YET.
No. 4. I think the first seven years of growing up have a lot to do with the learning environment and a bit to do with genetics. After 7, a lot more has to do with choices about taking advantage of learning opportunities. I often think a couple forms a bond with both being differently trained, but both tending to be more or less equally smart and dumb. Choices about learning will always be different and it is easy for a couple to get further and further apart or closer and closer together. A lot of this learning has to do with choosing to identify the dumb things our parents/caretakers taught us and re-learning wiser things.
No. 5. Yes. I think that something is a mostly unconscious recognition in our partner of a very familiar situation, attached to a profound hope that things are now going to be much better. I’ve often described this. During my training as an Imago Workshop Presenter I wrote this up in a paper I did not publish. Here it is.
No. 6. I used to think it (an Imago Match) was a prerequisite. But since then I’ve seen couple married only for a family’s convenience in which all the elements for reaching Vintage Love were present. I even met a couple where the husband had bought the wife from a family with two daughters, where he picked one, and the father sold the other. Still Vintage Love seemed on the way. Fascinating.
No. 7. I think it possible but less likely.
No. 8. What you are labeling a “false life” seems to me extremely common. My guess is that well over 90% of couples in the middle ages are living what you would call a “false life.” To get Vintage Love you have to willing somehow to be pretty abnormal.
No. 9. Yep. Life seems all about waking up. Fun quotes are “one day you will wake up aghast at the kind of monster you’ve married, and on another day you’ll be thunderstruck by the kind of monster your partner married,” Or “you always marry your worst nightmare.” Etc. This awareness ain’t supposed to last forever, but it sure fits – for a while.
No. 10. Simple answer is I fell in love with her. Went nuts. Later, about 5 years, I woke up.
No. 11. It was a very conscious decision to not do the stupid things with this one that I had done with the 1st. She didn’t deserve that (and heck, my first wife hadn’t deserved it either.)
Oh, and a last thought by way of encouraging you to grasp you power, I am reflecting on your first sentence. “I wish I could pull the plug…..” You can.
Thanks Al for your reply,
My opinion is that Vintage Love requires beside the individual emotional healing that each partner has to do for himself, and beside the skills for interacting with each other in the relationship, Vintage Love requires also some good level of compatibility between partners (values, views on life and society and other important aspects, which should team up well with your partner’s). You may say that people change and this views change in time, but I think people change significantly regarding this basic structure of values only until they get to know themselves and heal themselves and trust themselves. After that, changes are usually not so “deep”. And only after that I think we are suitable to make long lasting fulfilling relationships => Vintage Love.
Of course this doesn’t happen in reality. We don’t know ourselves in majority of cases, when we first dive in “happy ever after” relationships. And this relationships shatter to pieces sooner or later. And it’s not only because we don’t have the skills to create this relationship, but also because we are not compatible in our view on life – basically I’m saying that we don’t like each other, but we couldn’t know this when we met, because we had little knowledge about our own individual selves.
Having said that, I want to add that I appreciate all that you share with us, very valuable information. Helps us dig deeper into knowing ourselves. Thank you!
Hi Marta, I like your view and the additional idea about “similarity of basic values” as an important factor in achieving Vintage Love. You idea that “basically I’m saying that we don’t like each other” I would need to hear some more about – so please share. I’ve got two ideas to add.
One is that I am guessing your thinking is somewhat related to thinking that “agreement” is comforting. The more the better. I think one of the common basic changes in values that people headed to Vintage Love is a fundamental rejection of “agreement”. I must admit that when I am confronted with an agreeable person, I get tend to get guarded – my Lizard wakes up. The opposite of feeling comforted. I ran into this phenomenon in Vintage Love couples before I knew the term, before I ever heard about Imago – in the 1980s. “Yup, yup, yup, Mr. Turtle,” said the old guy. “We think if two people are agreeing, at least one is lying.” Twas quite a shock to me. And so I tend to see Vintage Lovers more as the caretakers of a space where people don’t need to agree, are not pushed to agree, and feel more guaranteed of safety when the disagree. Anyway it’s a thought. Tis my experience that with the freedom of diversity and more more collection of similar experiences, I find Vintage Lovers sharing a lot of common terms.
The second thing I’ll add is my concern that the topic of Purpose, which you’ll see mentioned in my Map of Relationship, can bring about a situation where Vintage Lovers separate. I have no model as to how Purpose fits into partner selection. My experience of Purpose is that it often shows up as mid-life crisis, and such stages of life. Tis possible that as a couple matures alongside each other, their discovery of Purpose could be pretty different from each other. E.g. one could be a childcare specialist and one a far lands explorer. Could lead to a lot of tension. This may be what you are referring to.
By the way, I am unclear about whether you are speaking (when you say “we don’t like each other”) about your experience with your partner(s) or couples in general. I’ve seen up close well over 3000 couples, most more or less clearly wanting Vintage Love and are blocked. The “reasons” they come up with for their trouble is certainly dramatically varied, and I respect their thinking.
“we don’t like each other” for me means exactly what you said about Purpose: we matured together, I had some sort of mid-life crisis and found out that I am very drawn to a different life style than his, and yes, this brings tension, not understanding each other, and little common ground between us. Like the fact that he doesn’t find my view on life interesting and vice-versa. Because my different views on lifestyle (more toward downsizing) I also feel that I am not attracted to him anymore.
I didn’t mean we need “agreement”, because I recently started to conquer my “need” to agree with everybody and please other people, and I feel my self-esteem is higher. It’s just that I feel we are diverging from each other and I’m drawn to people who share similar life views with me.
I am a little torn between what I want from life and keeping the relationship with him (but not just keeping it – making it worth, fulfilling).
Thanks Al for your kindness.
Now if either of you approached me and said, “I wanna stay close with this person. Here are our challenges. What would you do?” then it looks fairly clear where to start. But I get the impression you are seeking support at pulling the plug on this relationship. I say, “Go for it.”
Either it will work out fine for both of you OR one or both of you will learn cool lessons. Either way you both win. (Will probably be a bunch of pain along the way, but learning almost always seems to involve some hurting.)
I’ve been reading through your website for a while, I’m familiar with your concepts and I find most of them helpful, but I have one question. You seem very optimistic about every relationship, all seem to you like they are worth and possible to repair… but what about a codependent relationship of 15 years, the wife is codependent and has tons of resentment for the husband, who eroded her fragile personality for years, by dominating her life, interests, thoughts, everything, through emotional abuse, shaming, insistent requests etc. Now the husband doesn’t understand her issues and thinks their relationship was good, he considers he has nothing to change about himself, and since she started introspection and learning and growing, he thinks of her that she is similar to a fanatic religious person (there is no religion involved, just plain psychology). In other words, he doesn’t understand her search of self (he is not an introspective man). Plus there was a long emotional affair on the wife’s side, which they cannot overcome. And there is a child involved.
She wants to divorce and continue her growth journey (finally) without the blockage that comes from husband.
Why shouldn’t she divorce?
Hi Marta, Good questions. Perhaps I am not clear enough. If the person you are speaking of wants to divorce, let her do it. I’m fine with that. I make suggestions based on what I’ve learned but I hope people won’t take my suggestions as some kind of order. Reading your example I prefer that path forward that leads most likely to Vintage Love in the shortest way. The simplest/quickest path is to divorce the kind of relationship, the dysfunctional patterns of communication and control attempts, get rid of all that, but keep the partner who is ready to learn, too. A longer path is to divorce the partner she chose, take a break, for years maybe, find/chose a new partner (who will likely by similar), get into the Power Struggle again, and then start to learn the lessons. Nothing wrong with this path – just longer.
In your example for me the critical issue is self-responsibility and blaming. How does this gal learn to be responsible for her part, not his part, in the chaos and learn to fix her part? All about Boundaries. A big challenge.