Kate Meyers: Jack F. is an East Coast artist. His first marriage lasted nine and a half years. He declares that for the first two years after his divorce, he was "incompatible." Shortly after the incompatible period, he met Steffi. They've been married five years and have a 3-year-old boy.
momlogic: Why did you get divorced?
Jack F.: My whole story is with my father. He was so sick with cancer, and at one point, he got rushed into intensive care and I flew all night to see him. He sat up in bed and he said, "If you aren't happy in your marriage, we have to discuss this, because I'm not leaving this life until I know you're happy." And that was the end of my marriage. I was wired to make things work, and it never occurred to me that there was a problem with the marriage. I always thought it was a problem with me, and if I wasn't happy, I was doing something wrong. And when he said that, I realized it wasn't about me; it was about the marriage. At that second, in my mind, it ended. I instantly changed my life. I was like a bull in a pen, and the door swung open.
ml: What was the most difficult part of the divorce?
JF: The most difficult part is realizing that you failed and that you made a mistake. In my case, I wasn't married to a horrible person; I just wasn't happy. A lot had to do with family. She never embraced my family. The horrible thing about divorce, no matter if it's right or wrong or if you're doing the right thing, is: It's physically painful. My body just hurt.
ml: How did you go on from there?
JF: It was a super lonely period in my life. And the nine months after we broke up, I was dealing with my father's death. We made a pact with each other that we would spend the rest of his life talking about love, and that's what we did.
ml: What helped you get through?
JF: The James Taylor song "Gaia." I listened to that song a thousand times. It's a song about someone dying. When it comes up now, I have to turn it off because it reminds me of that moment in time.
ml: What did you learn from your divorce?
JF: I learned what we all know practically when we're 10 years old: How important family is, and the core beliefs that you have -- how you trust each other, how honest you are with each other, how you respect each other. You have to have passion, even though the whole relationship is not about that. I think the hardest thing I realized was that I was a really trusting person, and I had to be in a relationship with a trusting person ....
ml: What has been the best thing to come out of the experience?
JF: The best thing is that I found someone who I can be happy with, who does understand me, who does love my family, who trusted me .... I don't look back on anything on that part of my life with nostalgia, but it did bring me to this. It got me very in touch with what's important to me. One thing you learn -- if you're smart and you go through a period of mourning -- you get really clear about how you messed up, and what went wrong and you won't repeat.