What are the main causes of divorce? Some studies highlight problem behaviors like drug abuse. Others declare money as the main culprit. Still others point to the trio of "time, sex, and money." And the truth is, if you asked me what happened in my failed marriage, my answers would have been similar. We often disagreed about the division of labor - in business and at home. And if I had to name the "biggie," sex would be it.
But last week, along comes Jimmy Evans, the co-laborer in the Marriage Today ministry, with an assessment that blew my mind.
"The reason for divorce is not sex or money or communication. It's disappointment."
"I wanted someone better. I wanted something better. Instead I got you... and I got this."
In my entire experience with divorce advice and general conversation, nobody has said this better. In fact, Jimmy's assessment rolls every other reason for divorce into a neat little package.
Looking back at my own marital disagreement, we weren't fighting with the issues. We were fighting against disappointment in each other - against the blind hope that we'd married the right person - and against the sinking feeling that our images and expectations of the other person weren't ever going to merge with the reality.
Our responses to the fight were like gas on a fire. I kept working to become who he said I should be. He withdrew and got a girlfriend. We were equally wrong. I was giving him a shell of a wife and he simply stopped giving.
I appreciate the time I've spent living single since November 20, 2003. Walking out the door was the best anniversary present my ex-husband ever gave me. I've learned a multitude of things about myself and about my pending journey in a new relationship:
1. Love wouldn't be unconditional if a spouse could live up to every expectation.
2. No perfect mate exists... just perfect relationships that exhibit committment through the fire.
3. Never, EVER try to change who you are at your mate's request. That's a huge sign that your mate is having a personal problem and wants to assign the problem to you - as opposed to taking personal responsibility for a positive change.
4. You can't fix-up a relationship that starts badly. Don't ignore red flags.
5. Leave at the EXACT MOMENT you're afraid to be yourself in a relationship. If you wait too long, it can be a long process back to appreciating who you really are.
Look out, world. I'm almost 100% back on my game.