“I forgot myself for thirty years”
Brigitte, 62 years old
“When our children left home, my husband was talking about ’empty nest syndrome’. I did not feel it, hoping that our couple would take a new path. But there was no more communication between us. There was always a lack of speech, but we were not aware of it. The children left, there were no more diversions. One day we were in the living room, my husband got up and left saying he needed a break. I tried everything to save our couple. I felt committed by my marriage.
Three years later, we were divorced at my request after 31 years of marriage. Making this decision was terrible for me, because it was admitting that I was wrong. My husband would never have decided it himself. The divorce was very complicated and very painful. Our children, then aged 23 and 27, felt lost. I had qualms about crying in my son’s arms. I spoke with them a lot, we had a real dialogue about how they experienced events. A therapist and a spiritual guide helped me to reread my story. What allowed me to be born to another life.
→ MAINTENANCE. Late divorce: “We must recognize the sorrow of adult children”
I realized afterwards that I forgot myself for thirty years. I was a mother and a wife. Not a woman. I am now making up for it by investing in activities that I enjoy. If I met someone, that would be good. “
“I am nostalgic for the couple of grandparents that we could have formed”
Hélène, 63 years old.
“I just got divorced after 35 years of marriage. I was living in a denial of reality. For ten years my husband endured heavy medical treatment which caused side effects such as mood swings and verbal abuse in him. This was the trigger. We no longer got along. Everything rushed when he approached another woman, almost in front of my eyes. He wanted a divorce. For him, we are both at fault. He is gone, he said, not for another person but for another life.
I suffered a real earthquake with a stay in psychiatry, follow-up by a psychiatrist and a psychologist. I still have outbursts of anger towards my husband but I emerge slowly thanks to our two grown-up daughters, who have accompanied me a lot, and to the presence of close friends, who are attentive.
I turned to faith to try to find meaning in this suffering. I have a two month old grandson. I started to write a letter to my husband asking him to forgive me for my lack of understanding towards him. In fact, I love him more and more. I long for the couple of grandparents that we could have formed. But life has surprises in store. It takes time. “
“A painful but luminous path where I came back to life”
Gwenaëlle, 72 years old
“In my life as a couple, I have experienced a lot of happiness and a lot of suffering. First total fusion, admiration, then manipulation, persecution. I married a narcissistic pervert and suffered martyrdom. I waited ten years before asking for a divorce after 27 years together. It revolted me to question my commitment to marriage. And the more I prayed, the worse things got. Our two oldest students had moved away from us. But the second suffered. The youngest, who was 15, understood everything.
→ ANALYSIS. Divorce, what effects on the love life of children?
I loved my husband. I wanted to save him. I tried, against all odds, to “save” my marriage: meetings with a psychologist, alone and in pairs, meetings with a priest, Cana sessions at Chemin-Neuf (2). In vain. Accompanied by a Jesuit father, I heard biblical words which helped me to make the decision to divorce: “Leave your country” (Gn 12) and “Choose life” (Dt 30). I wrote a long letter to my children telling them why I chose life.
I freed myself from a lie. I don’t regret having waited so long. I went all the way. I have no guilt. I have received extraordinary support from Christian circles. As soon as the divorce was pronounced, I asked for the nullity of the sacrament of marriage. There was no real commitment from my husband’s side. It took me ten years to get back on my feet. This experience was a source of fruitfulness, a painful but luminous path in which I came to life. “
“At my age, it is difficult to rebuild yourself”
Gilles, 58 years old
“Five years ago my wife told me that she wanted a divorce, after 28 years of marriage, with the only explanation being that she was not happy. For some time now, she had changed, she rejected religion, turned to other forms of spirituality.
I felt like my life was falling apart. I would never have imagined that because I have never looked at a woman other than her. We met very young, at 16 and 19, and married five years later, under pressure from our families. This woman was my whole life. Since this breakup and the divorce, I have been trying to learn to live again and it is not easy. I find it difficult to mourn my marriage. My dream of becoming grandparents together has collapsed. At my age, it’s hard to rebuild.
→ DOSSIER. Divorced and remarried in the Church
When she left, I stayed at home with our four children, then aged 13 to 23. They were a little torn, thinking that their mother was happier that way. Today my eldest does not speak to me any more. As for my son, I would have liked him to defend me a little more. It was painful to hear that my wife was pretending I was a narcissistic pervert. She never told me to my face. It forced me to do some work on myself. I questioned myself with the help of a psychologist. I sold our house to avoid bumping into common memories.
My ex-wife is no longer the same person, she refuses all contact with me. Even to talk about children. My sanity tells me that she will not come back, but my heart is still hoping. “