Weddings are supposed to be days of joy and happiness. The day that you and the one you love--and who is supposed to love you--pledge to spend the rest of your lives together. Perhaps your parents spent a fortune, or perhaps you decided on a simple ceremony with a few guests. Most little girls, though, dream of a big church wedding, or perhaps something on a beach. Very rarely—I would hazard to guess—does a little girl’s dream include a separation or divorce.
In the grand scheme of grieving in the aftermath of a separation or divorce, the ex-wedding anniversary can be a constant reminder of the past relationship and bring back unpleasant memories, particularly within the first few years. As life moves on the emotional impact of those memories may lose their potency, and hopefully with the right relationship they are wiped out completely; but in those early, still-adjusting years even the happy anniversaries of other couples can be the source of jealousy, anger, anxiety, and the reliving of the dreams and life that you thought you’d have or had hoped for.
In reality, I started dreading anniversaries (Nov. 18) early on in our marriage because I knew our marriage wasn’t like most everybody else’s and I knew it never would be despite my efforts. The depths of my soul knew that the love that everyone else celebrated did not exist for us. I greeted all the best wishes and proddings to do something romantic with detachment in knowing that any attempt at romance would be just that—an act.
As I learned more and more about what a loving relationship between a husband and wife should ideally be, and observed that kind of love expressed between other husbands and wives, their wedding anniversaries became a reminder of what we didn’t have and I found myself envying them their relationship and the true love that was so palpable between them. Their love for each other wasn’t an act. They sacrificed for each other and treated each other with kindness, forgiveness and tenderness.
The ultimate decision to end our marriage happened just before our 14th anniversary. So that anniversary was a particularly troubling one.