"Do you realise what it means to come home at night to a partner who gives you no love, no affection, no tenderness and no understanding? It means you are in the wrong: in the wrong marriage, with the wrong woman, in the wrong time and place and 'in the dog house', that's what it means!
Many of my readers, like me, will have known the heartache broken marriages can impose. Many relationships have a 'sell by date' and one is fortunate in the extreme to marry, settle down, stay happily married and live together until the end of one's life. Often however, when it becomes clear that the marriage is broken beyond repair, part of me says it should be treated as shattered glass; better to leave the relationship broken than to hurt yourself more trying to put it back together like I did for thirteen years of my first marriage. I found it impossible to move on when my circumstances and surroundings stayed the same; so I left.
I fought to save my marriage to my first wife, Janet, but unfortunately, after the birth of our two children, she fought to end it. You know, the saddest thing in the world is continuing to love someone who used to love you. It slowly drains one of self-respect and saps the morale.
The love which had once existed between me and my first wife died many years before we called 'time' on our marriage. Upon Janet's insistence, I finally stopped trying to salvage it and left. I had resisted the inevitability of this separation for countless years; I had refused to see that our marriage was over and had refused to accept that by staying in it against her wishes that I leave, I was simply making matters worse, for her, me and the children!
Within one day of leaving, I uncorked those repressed emotions which I had bottled up for the previous decade and allowed my lungs to breathe in fresh air and my body to feel unchained. I felt like a trapped bird which had been freed from its cage into the wide open world. Nothing or nobody could have persuaded me to return to my prison cell and lock myself back in it. Only then could I accept that I loved my wife best when I left her. She now had the opportunity without my presence, to find herself and to become a happier and more accepting person.
When my first wife denied me all contact and access visits to the two children of our marriage for almost two years after we separated, I was filled with rage and I stayed angry for a number of years. This trapped negativity merely ensured that the devil would not loosen his grip on me until I abandoned all the residual anger I still carried inside about the bad way I had been treated over the previous decade.
My saddest memory of marital breakup to my first wife was the inevitable hurt inflicted upon our two innocent children. Each divorce brings with it the death of a small civilization. The children of the marriage often feel responsible for the breakup of their parents. They feel it to be their fault and search their little souls for something they might have done. Sadly, the most important thing a father can do for his children in their eyes is to love their mother and when he no longer can, the bond between father and children is inevitably threatened.
My second marriage to Fiona was a much happier union than my first and lasted twenty eight years, of which twenty were as good as it gets. I met my second wife a short period after leaving my first marriage and instantly fell in love with her. I often wonder whether we fall in love again on the rebound in order to burn our bridges behind us so that our devil cannot follow?
Some of our earlier years were difficult times, but despite any hardship that visited us, they were the happiest of years we shared. Despite the shortage of money and the difficulty in persuading the children of two failed marriages to play 'happy families' during weekend access periods, we eventually forged a healthy family unit founded on love and buttressed by mutual respect. I feel immensely proud today when I look at the children of our mixed marriages and know that there are no half measures to their relationships when they call each other brother and sister. Very early on in my second marriage, I refused to see divisions fostered in our children by the use of fractions. I would allow no step to separate them; there would be no half-brother or step-sister, no other acceptable term than that of brother and sister to keep all of them fully committed to each other.
I must admit that the children of both marriages were life savers in the process of restoring self-belief and finding my intrinsic worth again. Simply looking at them reinforced the undeniable truth, that just because a relationship ended with their mothers, didn't mean it wasn't worth having in the first place!
After the ending of my second marriage, unlike the ending of my first, Fiona and I remained on friendly terms and determined that we would stay jointly responsible parents to our children .
With two marriages ended and having effectively been twice dumped by brides who were unable to stay the course, I had three or four years on my own to gather my thoughts in respect of what went wrong. I arrived at the view that in many ways, marriage is always a trade off. I considered it a continuous compromise between two brokers, and where breakup comes when there isn't anything left to bargain with. In many ways, a marital-relationship breakdown is represented by a kaleidoscope of extreme emotions to be found along one's journey between 'falling in love' and 'falling apart.' Perhaps, the only way to keep a marriage alive requires falling in love many times over with the same person?
In 2010, I found my one true love with whom I knew from the start that I would end my days, Sheila. We married on my 70th birthday in November, 2012 and I can swear that I have never been as happy or have known a grey day since. I have since formed a theory that happy marriages begin when we marry the ones we love and marriage blossoms when we love the ones we marry. I also believe that successful marriages on earth are renewed in heaven. I once asked a couple who were enjoying their sixtieth wedding anniversary their secret and was told,'We talk together, we play together, we learned to forgive and forget, we never allow truth to become an inconvenience and we always refused to go to bed on a row.'
Being with Sheila has taught me that love doesn’t commit suicide. It can only die if we kill it off, neglect its presence or let it wither through abandonment of affection. As to the secret of staying together, Sheila recently told me that she'd fathomed it: she said, 'If you ever decide to leave, I'm coming with you!" William Forde: March 30th, 2016.