By far the hardest moment of my actual divorce hearing was when the judge asked me if I thought the marriage was irretrievably broken. I had to say yes, and it was hard not to cry.
In that moment, I relived a conversation, confounding at the time, that I'd had with one of my best friends when I had realized I was going to be divorced. I was sobbing, an aching, confused, emotionally bleeding mess heaped on the couch in my mom's living room. He looked kind of bewildered and was trying to help me make sense of what was happening, though to me it didn't seem like there was any sense to be made. I knew my marriage had its share of problems, but I didn't think they were "big" enough to merit divorcing. I thought our issues could be overcome, and I kept saying that. Eventually my friend pointed out that I was missing the biggest "issue" of all - Brian's unwillingness to work it out. That issue apparently could not be overcome, and it was in fact "big" enough to cause a divorce.
My friend's words did little to console me at the time, but a few days later, by the time I'd stopped hyperventilating and leaking from the eyeballs every five seconds, I could see that he was right. Brian wanted out, and there was nothing I could do to change his mind. And that meant that the relationship was not ok, that it wasn't working, and that it really was "that bad."
I have since heard other women echo my sentiments -- the ones suggesting that our problems weren't that bad, that we aren't too far off, that this can be fixed, etc. There's a lot of pain and frustration and fear in that feeling, because you didn't think it was all really going to fall apart and yet here it is, falling apart. There is possibly (at least in my case) an element of denial, of the bad-ness of the state of the relationship. I don't think I've heard a single one of these women (like me) reconciling with their long-gone husbands.
What I've come to realize is that in many of these cases, the other spouse, the leaving spouse, is dreadfully, miserably, terribly unhappy but has spent years, sometimes many many years, pretending that he isn't. There's only so much pretending he (or anyone) can do before it's just too difficult to keep up the act, to try to hide the frustration, to seek other outlets for satisfaction. So he quits. And she is shocked and hurting and has to realize that she's spent the past however many years loving (or trying very hard to love) what is, ultimately, a sham. It's when we come to grips with the fact that everything we thought was our life was in fact a lie that we can move forward.
I am very thankful that that shift came fairly early in the process for me. If it hadn't been for my friend's loving, truthful words, I'm not sure how long it would have taken for me to turn the corner.