A few days ago, I had lunch with two divorced women who really made me re-evaluate how I feel about certain divorce situations. One woman's husband had left her for another women (who he is still involved with). The other woman was the one who chose to leave her husband.
The woman whose husband left her was one of those women that you meet and immediately fall in girl love with. Gorgeous on the outside, warm and friendly and soft, but also smart, insightful and understandably has a tinge of vulnerability and insecurity. The other woman was also very nice looking, stylish, and really funny. Both women are extremely successful professionally.
Both were asking me questions about divorce, and about my blog, and of course, I wasn't shy about answering. At one point, I told the woman whose husband left her what I tell all women in her situation: that things right now are probably great with he and his girlfriend, but that I have a hard time believing the two will end up happily ever after, based on the fact that their relationship began when he was still married and cheating. In other words, the relationship is basically based on lies, so it will never work out.
The next day, I received an email from the other woman (the one who had left her husband) telling me that she was really offended by my comment, because she and her boyfriend were both still married and cheating on their spouses when they first met. It wasn't a rude email, but she was just explaining to me that I sounded really judgmental because I didn't know her situation.
I immediately felt awful, because she was right. That statement was completely judging all "cheaters." In my defense, I think I was trying to make the other woman feel better. I mean, here is a woman who thought everything was great in her marriage. She had no clue that her now ex would find another woman and then leave her because he found his new "soul mate."
But I do realize now that a blanket statement like that really is judgmental. I was not living in the other woman's home (the one who left her husband). I have no idea what her ex was like. He could have been mentally abusive, he could have been a real jerk, he could have been a drinker, maybe he cheated on her, maybe he was a lazy, slob who didn't ever do anything and didn't even work. Or, maybe he was the sweetest, nicest guy who loved the woman and was absolutely devastated when she left. I will never know. So, I should really never make that statement again.
But, it's hard not to, because I've seen so many devastated men and women who really didn't know they were getting divorced until their ex was engaged. Besides, isn't there some truth to the fact that a relationship that begins with lies and deceit is weakened right from the start by ugliness and bad karma?
Let me say this about the statement I made. Here is the statement: "the relationship is basically based on lies, so it will never work out." If I added "in most cases," to it, I actually think it's a pretty fair statement. "Most cases," not every case.
I truly apologize to the woman who I hurt. Really, she was a lovely person.
But to the other woman, whose ex broke her heart in a million pieces by replacing her with someone else, I still really feel for her. Although, I only met her for an hour. Here's another thought. How do I know she wasn't a complete psycho and horrible to live with? She could have been the worst wife in the world. My gut says absolutely no way, but I will never really know.
The only two people who know what really happened that resulted in the end of their marriage, are the two people who were in it, and even then, they usually have two completely different versions of the story. Remember that old saying, "There are three sides to every story: her side, his side and the truth?"
Here is an example of different divorce versions:
1. The husband leaves.
The woman: "After all these years, he basically stole my life and then left me for some bimbo."
The man: "She won't accept that it's over, and because of that she just makes everything difficult. Why is she trying to ruin my life?"
2. The wife leaves:
The woman: "He didn't pull his weight. Our romantic life was over and he would never even try to fix things. I begged him to go to counseling and by the time he agreed, I had already checked out."
The man: "She kicked me out and now I have to pay her every month and I don't get to live with my kids anymore."
Here's the thing. Everyone in a divorce is a victim, not just the one whose spouse cheated and or left.
Here is what every divorced person has in common. We all have two choices: act like an angry, bitter victim, or grieve the situation, accept it and make the new situation the best it can be, and I don't mean "make the best of it," I mean go out and grab the life you want and deserve.
What happens to many people who are left by their spouses is that they end up realizing later that their ex-husband or ex-wife was right to leave, and that even though it was difficult, their life is better now.
I've also seen people who got dumped live in anger, resentment and bitterness for the rest of their lives, never taking the focus off the fact that they got screwed.
Additionally, I've seen countless men and women who left their ex's, married the person who they left their ex for, and end up divorced again. But some have lived happily ever after, as well.
What I truly wish for all divorced people is that they live happily ever after, because a divorce is a pretty crappy thing to go through, and everyone deserves some happiness, don't you think? Please refrain from answering, "Everyone but my ex!" and just focus on your own happiness, no matter who left who!
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of the blog, Divorced Girl Smiling. She is also the author of the comedic novel, FREE GIFT WITH PURCHASE about life after divorce. Ms. Pilossoph is a weekly business features reporter and columnist for Sun-Times Media. She lives in Chicago with her two kids. And she's divorced (obviously.)