Here’s a fascinating take on divorce that I find more true than not: we choose our spouses, usually subconsciously, as a means of healing old emotional wounds we have been carrying around our entire life. Our divorce then becomes the wake-up call to clean up that mental baggage we have been lugging around once and for all, which in turn allows us to become the person we were always meant to be!
That theory would go a long way toward answering the questions we often ask ourselves: How is it I married my father/mother? Why do I overreact to certain things my ex did or said? Why do I continue making the same mistakes over and over again? Old emotional baggage has a tendency to run us and limit our freedom of choice. It is revealed in the endless mind chatter that seeks to sabotage us and keep us stuck in the pain of our past. It is seen in our extreme sensitivity to those things that push emotional buttons based in our baggage. It creates a huge obstacle to our being our personal best and having the things we so desperately want from life.
Let’s take a couple of specific examples of this theory in action so you can get a better idea of its implications as they might pertain to you and your divorce:
A woman marries a man who, as it turns out, doesn’t make her feel good about herself—or, to put it more aptly, she allows herself to feel bad about herself, due to her choice of a spouse. He is highly critical of her every move, and nothing she does seems to measure up to his standards. She suffers, and her sense of self is demeaned. She begins to think about why she would have chosen someone who is so much like her own father. The pain she is undergoing is a reminder of how her own dad treated her as kid. He, too, was highly negative and critical. As a child, she could not separate the facts (a negative father) from the meanings she created about herself, i.e., “I am not good enough, I am less than, and I am not worthy.”
This woman never healed the old emotional scars from her past. She carried a belief around with her that she was not good enough, a belief that she and she alone created. Keep in mind that this would be a logical deduction for a child. As adults, we have the ability to see more clearly and realize that we are good enough and our childhood response is no longer valid, not to mention effective. Perhaps, just perhaps, she chose her husband because it would literally force her to come to grips with this old “stuff,” the mind chatter and baggage, that she had to heal and rid herself of if she was going to live a happy and fulfilling life.
Her healing might come in the form of recognizing the fact that her dad was a negative guy and his treatment of her was no different from his treatment of everyone in his life, although perhaps more so with his own child. Unfortunately, not out of the ordinary. That was just who he was, and Lord knows he had his own “stuff” too. She begins to see that the core belief she holds about herself is extremely limiting and self-destructive. She sees how it has been running her and how she has enabled this behavior in her ex and undoubtedly others. She knows she must learn to say no to the things that do not serve her. She is on the way to a new life that reflects her newfound self-respect and confidence. Hallelujah!
Here’s another example of choosing someone who will push you into self-examination and renewal: A man chooses a wife who is a control freak in that she must make all the decisions for the family because she knows best. We can only begin to imagine where that “stuff” came from! Ultimately, he feels bad about himself and loses his sense of self and power. Why would he choose such a spouse? Perhaps his own mother was an overriding force in his own life and was controlling and manipulative of him. Perhaps there was some sense of security in that relationship. Perhaps he came to believe that he could not trust himself to make his own decisions, that he was incapable. As a result, he chose a woman who would “mother” him in the ways that he came to define as mothering.
Of course, it didn’t work and served only to exacerbate his inner feelings of inadequacy. All the old emotional triggers got activated when his wife bossed him around and didn’t respect his opinion. Even little things became huge triggers for him because of his old emotional baggage. His divorce became his call to arms to clean it up. He also came to understand how he enabled his ex’s behavior and also came to know what kind of a relationship would work for him in the future if he was to be happy and the man he was meant to be.
In my own divorce, I found a major lesson that I had failed to learn over the years: that I could not control everything in life and that I did not know best all of the time. I also learned that there is a high price to pay for being right. It was both a humbling and a liberating experience. I don’t have to control everything, because I cannot control everything. Being right is based on my own old emotional stuff, and I get that now. That is what I had to learn, and my choice in a spouse was the perfect choice to teach me these lessons and gift me this wisdom.
Take a long, hard look at your own divorce and see if there just might be any truth to this theory in your own story. Remember, your divorce can serve as an opportunity to rid yourself of any demons that have had control over your life. Your divorce offers you much wisdom that you can apply in order to live the life that you deserve. Every experience in life has something to give us. Do not waste this experience.