No matter how long you’ve been married, when it ends in divorce it can feel like it was all for naught. You committed, you worked, you argued, you resolved, you did every tiny thing you could think of to secure the future of your marriage, yet nothing.
It’s hard to feel like it wasn’t a waste of time. What if you hadn’t married them? What if, at the first point you’d had misgivings before you were even married, you’d walked away?
The time investment in marriage can feel like a huge cost. Years of your life have been spent on the relationship and it has ended without any return. Chances are you invested in your ex-spouse, their job, supporting them, being there through the difficult times and now it wasn’t enough; it was all for nothing.
I’ve wrestled with this over the years. My ex-husband and I were separated for a year and a half. Over the course of that time, I gave him space to choose what he wanted, and, at length, it transpired that was not our marriage. Fast forward another year and the divorce papers were signed: that was two years ago last week. Sometimes I’d wonder – if I’d quit trying sooner, I’d have moved on with my life younger, would I have met someone else? Had children? Embarked on an entirely different life?
But assuming it was all for naught is to diminish the value of my life over those few years. The year and a half of separation taught me lessons about myself, God, marriage and divorce that I loved, along with those I’d rather never have learnt. Although I am no longer married, it is those lessons I’ve carried with me
I discovered a patience I never knew I had. I learnt that I could live from day to day with no plan and not knowing what the future might hold.
I got up every single morning to kneel by my bed and pray, pleading for my marriage to be restored. This isn’t because I’m super holy – I fell straight back asleep this morning – but because I was fully committed to my marriage, even in the context of separation and divorce. I found I had a determination and a tenacity to refuse to let God go until He blessed me (Genesis 32:26), learning that I believed God was good, even when circumstances weren’t. If anything, I miss this tenacity: I have to often seek it anew.
Nothing in the waiting, and the seemingly interminable not-knowing was wasted because, in the immortal words of Rodgers and Hammerstein through the guise of the fabulous Julie Andrews, ‘nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could’. Yes, I might have moved on with my life more quickly by cutting loose faster, but I wouldn’t be the me I am if I’d done that then.
Was it all for nothing? Was my 3 years of marriage, 1 and a half years of waiting and a year of divorce proceedings all a pointless waste of time? I don’t think so – nothing comes from nothing, but from the investment, the pain and the waiting came someone with lasting commitment, dedication and a greater inner strength than had previously been tested.
So while it may seem like a waste of time, like it was all for nothing, what have you learnt about yourself? How about the people around you? What’s it taught you about who God is?
If any of these questions draw an answer – it wasn’t for nothing, you didn’t waste your time and your investment has return, even if it wasn’t the one you expected.