Writing this made me laugh. The content may not actually be funny. But I never quite know how else to process the information, so I laugh. Enough with the suspense though. Let’s dive right in.
There was a relatively short period of time wherein I was completely unsure of the fate of my marriage. When my ex left in November, he did tell me he wanted to get a divorce in his exit speech. However, I didn’t receive divorce papers until February. So from November to February, I was in a sort of limbo. In that limbo, I was desperately trying to figure out what was happening, why it was happening, what was going to happen, and how I could change it. By “trying to figure it out” I mean I did a lot of talking - with my therapist, my ex, my family, and my friends.
In these conversations with family and friends, there was one common response I kept getting - “oh, he’ll be back.” The conversations always started like this:
Me: “My husband left.”
Them: “Oh, honey. I’m sorry.”
Me: “Thank you.”
Then this is where they got interesting. The conversations turned to:
Them: “Well, what did he take with him?”
Me: (Completely taken aback by the question) “Um, he took a bag with underwear and shirts.”
Them: “What? Just one bag?! Not his Xbox?! Nor his shoes?! Or his watches and watch case?!”
Them: “Oh girl, don’t cry. He’ll be back. He’s just trying to teach you a lesson.”
Them: “Well, what did he say exactly?”
Me: (Okay, its getting personal now.) “That he’s been unhappy for years.”
Them: “That’s it?”
Me: “Pretty much.”
Them: “You’ve only been married for four years. How many years could he have been unhappy for?”
Me: “I don’t know.”
Them: “He’ll be back. He just wants you to grovel.”
Them: “Well, where is he staying?”
Me: “At a hotel.”
Them: “A hotel?!”
Them: “Giiiiirrrrl, a hotel! He’ll be back. That’s too expensive. He doesn’t have a long term plan. He’ll realize the grass isn’t greener on that side.”
Then they’d usually follow up their certainty about his return with a story of how their husband (or sister’s husband, or father, or cousin, or neighbor) left back in 1984 (or ‘63, or ‘77, or ‘95) and returned home a few weeks later like nothing had happened, and they’ve been together ever since.
These conversations had two effects on me. The first was they gave me a dangerous amount of false hope. In those three months of torturous limbo, hearing from so many women that my husband would return was an easy solution to accept. I wanted my husband to come back. I hadn’t quite understood why he left. I couldn’t imagine living life without him. So, you think he’ll be back? Oh, you know he’ll be back? Because your husband came back? Why yes! I’ll take one of those scenarios, please! It was easier than having to wrap my head around the increasingly scary idea that he was gone, forever. In response, I sat back, begging, praying, self-criticizing so that I could accelerate his return. Yet, he never returned. I doubt he ever intended to.
The second was they made me feel like I had uncovered some huge secret to longlasting marriages! I’m telling you, it blew my mind! There are all these marriages, lasting for decades, with tons of children and grandchildren, going on gorgeous vacations, and acquiring bountiful assets. Just picture perfect. Only to find out that at some point (or multiple points), they were in my exact same shoes. Their spouse had “had enough” and left. Their marriage had momentarily halted. Their children were at risk of being from a “broken home”. Then poof! Their spouse returned. Their marriage resumed. They lived happily ever after. And everyone was sorta kinda okay with it because their brother, cousin, grandfather, or neighbor had done it and turned out fine. I don’t know if it was one of those “boys will be boys” thoughts or what. But that leads me to my very final thought on the matter...
Ultimately, do I want a man who expresses his frustration or dissatisfaction by abandoning me, leaving me with uncertainty, and then returning without acknowledging anything? A grown man that throws devastating and detrimental temper tantrums to get my attention? HECK NO.
So, if you happen to be in that state of limbo - you’re not divorced yet, and wondering whether your husband or wife will return, I’m not telling you that they will return. They may, or they may not. Regardless, I suggest what my father told me - take this time to think long and hard about whether you want them to return, and if so, how to prevent this from happening again.