Clearing the dirty dishes to make room for clean plates

by Denise
(Flower Mound, Texas USA)

I've loved my husband since 1986 when he asked me to marry him - I told him no, I am white, he is black and I wasn't strong enough. And that was my answer -- not "no", but "I'm not strong enough". He always says that because of that, I'm the smartest most insightful woman he has ever known (after momma, of course).

Throughout the years we never saw each other but stayed friends who were "connected" emotionally - a few times a year, when the sense of a need or happiness or pain was strong, one or the other would call. Every conversation-for 17 years- began with "How is the sexiest man in Texas?" and ended with "I love you" said by both.

In 1993 I fell in love and married an amazing man. He had a progressive disease and I know that I was meant to find him and be with him thru the rest of his years. After 12 amazing years, he passed away. He knew about my first love and he'd alway said he wanted me to remarry after he passed. While I always said "no", my heart - for years - had hoped that eventually my first love and I would reunite.

When I called my friend and shared my loss, he was there - long distance - and helped me over the months of grieving my husband's death. About a year later we arranged to meet and I knew I still loved him - I had to learn it was okay to love two men - I'd never "lose" my late husband if I loved this man.

Fast forward to today - almost 8 years later. I gave up everything - relocated to Texas and married my first love. It has been wonderful and blessed until my husband lost work and didn't have full time employment for several years. It eroded his self-esteem. It tore his gut to know his wife was paying the bills. It ate at him daily. We never fought - I never knew what he was going through, I just knew he was distancing him from "us" but I thought it would pass because he had recently been offered an amazing job...4 hours away. I knew that would revitalize him and that, in time, he will emotionally "come home" to me.

But - he told me today he wanted a divorce. He's already seen the lawyer and he can't carry the anger and self-esteem loss and the reminder of the pain he feels and has inflicted on me these past months any longer. He has to start unencumbered in the new position and be totally focused, and he desperately wants his "friend" and "lover" back, but to get that, he can't stay as my husband. He prayed that we will be man and wife again. He loves me more than life, but is afraid that if he stays, he will hurt me and not just emotionally - hurt me physically because of his pain.

The metaphor he used really made sense - we need to clear all the dirty dishes off the table before we can set clean plates down. The piece of paper - divorce decree - represents the end of the dirty dishes that have piled up. We can't trust each other, we don't feel safe with each other, we are walking and breathing and sleeping on eggshells, we expect the other to snap or be bitter or hateful and we stay "on guard" every minute of every day. We no longer see the real true "each other" - what we have been to each other for the past 30 years - until we clear off the pain and anger and dirty plates.

There is cheating with a woman; there is no nagging by me; there are issues with kids or house or pets or cars or abuse. There is just the de-evolvement of my man's self-worth and his lashing inward and outward, unable to fix it and to clear it on his own.

I love him. He loves me. We are incredibly sad. We are incredibly hurt. I will sign the papers because I want to help clear the table of the dirty dishes and set clean plates.

Only by lovingly helping clear the table will I have the opportunity - not chance - but real opportunity to restore trust, friendship, emotional ties, and possible remarriage. We have 30+ years invested - we simply need to clear the table.

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