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Divorce Dialogues: 'I Had to Give Up the Dream of the Perfect Life'

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Guest blogger Kate Meyers: Gabby had known her first husband for about a year and a half before they got engaged. He was a partner in the law firm where she worked as a very junior associate. He had been married once before. They were separated after two years. "I was 29, and we were married five-ish years," she says. "We were separated after about two years, and were officially divorced after five. The unwind probably took longer than the windup." Gabby has been happily remarried for ten years, and she and her second husband have a son.

woman crying
momlogic: Why did you get divorced?

Gabby: My ex-husband was kind of negative person, and I was under the mistaken impression that we had fallen in love and I was going to turn that negativity around and I would bring happiness to his life. At the time, I was probably more naive than I should have been to think I would have this positive impact. Within the two-year mark, I discovered he was having an affair. I confronted him. I fully expected an apology, but he denied it and was outraged and he moved out. I felt used, abused and embarrassed. I wish I had talked to the ex-wife, because I later learned that her story and mine were pretty identical. But I don't know if I would have believed it then. I ultimately had to make a decision that I would be happier in the long run leaving the marriage; if I never met another guy, never fell in love again and never had a child, I would be better off than if I stayed in the relationship with him. I just got to the place where that was far better than what I was living with every day. It took me a long time to get there.

ml: How did the experience change you?

G: It changed me pretty dramatically. I would say I ended up in a really emotionally abusive relationship. He not only had an affair, at first he denied it, and then he said it was my fault. We went to therapy together and he'd act like he wanted to work it out, but he was always blaming me and wanting me to cut myself off from my friends and family. And I even tried that, but it never worked. I had to give up on the dream of the marriage and the perfect life and perfect family in the suburbs that I had been holding on to. I also had to climb out of this hole that I had dug for myself. In the end, what I really learned is that I would never give any person that kind of power over me emotionally again. I'm much more protective of myself and my boundaries.

ml:What was the best thing to come out of it?

G: That process had to take place in order for me to be in the right frame of mind to meet the REAL love of my life -- my current husband. That sounds fairy tale-ish, but it's actually true. The other piece is -- and I think this is important -- while I was working through this separation/divorce process (living apart, therapy, etc.), at some point in that process, I met my current husband. It was the first time I had met someone who had sparked my interest. It was the first time I had felt anything toward another man in so long. We weren't dating; he was dating someone else. It was just a thought and it gave me a glimmer of hope that there was something else out there. It gave me the courage to walk away from my doomed marriage.

Eight months later, my now-husband and I started dating. I finally experienced what it felt like to be in a relationship of equals where we really are each other's best friends. We choose to do things and participate in each other's lives as fully as we can. It's always work to be in a relationship, but I'm not afraid of anything in the relationship and I think I was really afraid in my first marriage. It's amazing to wake up every day together and go to bed every night together and deal with everything that happens in between. We've been married ten years and our son is 9. He's got an ex-wife and I have a 16-year-old stepson, so there have been bumps in the road, but we figure them out. I always feel supported, loved, adored, cherished even when I'm not perfect.

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