Why I Divorced A Man I Desperately Loved

Leaving someone doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t love them.

Woman sharing love for her husband, but loving herself more to realize marriage wasn't working Bruce Dixon | Unsplash, Syda Productions | Canva

I call my friend to check on her. She’s broken up with a guy she’s been seeing for several years. She shed a few tears the night before.

“I’m calling to check on you,” I say.

“I’m fine,” she says. “Thanks for calling. I don’t know why I cried. I’m not a crier.”

“I get it,” I say.

“The tears aren’t for him,” she says. “I don’t regret leaving him.”

“Just because we leave someone doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t love them. It means we’re smart enough to know they aren’t good for us. I still loved my husband when I left him. I didn’t want to be unhappy or unhealthy anymore.”


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“I guess it’s good to get it out,” she says. “It’s good to go through the stages of a relationship ending.”

“A lot of relationships end,” I say. “And it’s not for a lack of love. It’s all of the other mitigating circumstances that crawl into our lives.”


“Yes,” she says.

“It’s good that we had the strength to leave bad relationships,” I say.

“I know,” she says.

“I sometimes forget that a remnant of me did still love my husband. It’s why it took me years to leave him,” I say. “I don’t have any feelings left for him now. When he was willing to inflict brutal abuse during our divorce, he exited my heart completely. A man who is willing to hurt his children to hurt his wife is not a man I could hold emotion for.”

“I’m glad I broke up with him,” she says.

“It’s still grief,” I say. “Allow yourself to feel it. It’s okay to give into it.”

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I empathize with my friend. There are some things in life we can control. We can control some of our thoughts. We can talk ourselves in, or out of things. We can make rational decisions we believe are in our best interest. We can strive to be emotionally healthy.

We can’t control the heart. The heart feels; it doesn’t think. It’s why we feel out of control when it’s broken. The heart runs away from us while falling in or out of love. It’s why we get butterflies. It’s why we get nervous. It’s why a single touch can be felt throughout our entire body. It’s why attraction feels so visceral. Our heart is feeling, not thinking.

It’s why I swore after my divorce, I would never need a man again. And then I met a man. And I needed him. I wish love alone could keep two people together. But it can’t.

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A failing relationship isn’t necessarily a love match. The tears, arguments, ugly words, and raised voices are symptoms of a relationship falling apart. They were the postscript to my marriage, and the forward to my divorce. Love was the middle of our story. He was my best friend and my college sweetheart.

I didn’t want our ending. But love wasn’t enough. Love couldn’t put our relationship back together. It couldn’t repair the human condition that took it down. Love couldn’t move that complexity. It couldn’t field the ugliness that was happening before it. Love was the bystander. It couldn’t think for us, it could only feel for us. Instead, it simply bore witness to its demise.

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I divorced a man I loved. 

Leaving someone doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t love them. It means love doesn’t think, it feels. It can’t solve all of a relationship’s problems. The human condition can turn love into unhealthy love.

Two people aren’t always able to solve their problems, even if they want to. There are conflicts, resentments, control, addiction, personality disorders, and other mitigating factors that crawl into our lives.


People can tell us to stay married. They can insist an intact family is better. It isn’t. It’s an unhealthy environment. It’s not setting a good example for anyone, especially children

I’ve spent more than a decade in the counseling and research of love, relationships, and divorce. I didn’t want this path. I resisted it for years. I finally had to surrender to my truth. I didn’t want my children to have half-happy parents. It wasn’t the example I wanted to set. I wanted them to live in a joyful environment. They deserved the happy mother they once knew. Not the emotional loss of both parents.

We have to make difficult and painful decisions. We have to choose to leave unhappy and unhealthy relationships.

Love is the heart. We can’t control the heart. The heart feels; it doesn’t think.


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Colleen Sheehy Orme is a national relationship columnist, journalist, and former business columnist. She writes about love, life, relationships, family, parenting, divorce, and narcissism.