Falling in love is fast.
Before you know it, gravity has ceased to exist, and you’re falling. You live each day, joyfully boastful in your love. Happiness, sunshine and roses radiate from every pore like a euphoric rainbow.
Well, let me tell you. If falling in love is loud and fast…falling out of love is slow and quiet.
You don’t get a warning sign, or some brightly lit “DANGER” sign. It’s silent. With each passing day, your love gets smaller and smaller.
But, there’s always a moment when it starts. When the love starts to flicker. That inner fire starts to dim and slowly, things begin to get darker until you can’t see through the pain and resentment.
For me, I think it started long before my ex had his first affair. He’s a police officer. And like most police wives, I hated midnights. It’s this horrible work schedule where your husband is a literal vampire who wakes up when the sun goes down and comes home just as it’s rising. I don’t need to fall in love with Edward Cullen because I was married to the non-glittery, angry version of him for about 5 years. That’s when he started working midnights. 5 years ago. And it was then that I started to lose him.
I hated his midnight schedule. And he loved it.
I hated that I barely saw my husband, and he loved his job.
But at the end of the day, it wasn’t that he worked odd hours, or that we barely saw each other; it’s that he chose his wants over my needs. He receded further, and further into himself and I couldn’t reach him. No matter how much I cried. No matter how much I told him I hated his schedule. No matter how many times I asked him to change it. He chose to sacrifice my pain for his happiness.
When we had our son, it was like putting a building on top of quick sand. The foundation just wasn’t there.
While falling in love is quick and exhilarating, falling out of love is slow and painful. Over time, the pieces start to tear apart bit by bit. Slowly, your heart begins to cut the lines tethering your soul, to theirs. Until there’s nothing left.
A year and a half later, and it’s so odd to say I’m not in love with him anymore.
After all, he was my person.
When we were married, sometimes I would daydream about what would happen in a natural disaster if we were separated. If aliens invaded, or the zombie apocalypse started tomorrow, how would I get back to him? Apparently, these are the very realistic possibilities I think about. But, it was always him. Not family, or friends, but him. I would imagine the trials I would overcome, or the lengths I would travel to get back to him.
Now, he wouldn’t even register.
And that’s what falling out of love does.
It doesn’t just break your heart, it breaks your connection.
Breaks the bond.
Recently, I was talking to a friend of mine (who is also a single-mom) and we were discussing the mediation waiting room. The pain and anger in that room is almost tangible. You can literally cut the tension with a knife. And the truly tragic part is that it all started with love. Every person in that room, at one time, had a connection. For most, they were in love. For some, they had a wedding. They stood before friends and family and swore “to death do us part.” And now, they’re sitting in a cold waiting room, bitterly waiting for their name to be called.
So many times, over the past year I’ve looked at my ex and thought “How did I ever love you?”
But, when you fall in love, you’re falling for the best parts. The pretty, shiny, polished version. The highlight reel. It’s a surface love. Deep, passionate, and life-altering love comes through adversity.
Falling in love is fast.
But staying in love is a choice.
It’s work. It’s two enormously flawed people attempting to live life together. Being there for each other through disappointments. Through illness. Through death. And if you’re not willing to put in the work, the light will go out, and the love will die. It’ll stay a surface love and be easily destroyed.
The Bible tells us, “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” Ephesians 4:2
In my opinion, compromise, patience, and vulnerability are the keystones to deep, meaningful love. After my ex’s first affair, we went through extensive counseling and I was more connected with him at that time than any other point in our marriage. And it’s because we were vulnerable with each other. We trusted each other with our deepest and darkest pain. And were gentle and patient in receiving that pain. And while, it didn’t work out in the end, I know what it feels like to be truly connected. I know what real love looks like, and to be honest, I’m not sure we ever had it.
And in that, falling out of love with my husband is a hidden blessing.
Falling out of love with him, has allowed me the opportunity to find meaningful love with someone who is willing, and capable, of doing the work. But more importantly, by falling out of love with him, I have begun the process of falling in love with myself.
And I know that sounds cheesy and cliché, but it’s SO true. This divorce, and the subsequent experiences I’ve had after our separation, have put a very large mirror in front of my face. My Pastor says it doesn’t matter if you start a new relationship because you take YOU with you. And if you don’t fix YOU, you’ll repeat the same mistakes. And I don’t want that. Next to God, the longest relationship you will have in this life is with yourself. So, you better work at it.
Before I fall in love with someone else, I want to love me.
I want to be patient in my growth, forgiving in my flaws, and intentional in my character.
Falling in love with a man is fast.
Falling in love with yourself takes work.
But, loving yourself is worth it.