When I had my first post separation counselling session 20 odd years ago, my counsellor suggested I was there facing divorce as a result of a life script.
There certainly was some credibility to the statement. My former spouse left the family in much the same way his own father had left the family. Both withdrew completely to another life. The similarities were eerie, approximately same time of married life, many of the circumstances lined up.
It was well known within the family that, prior to their divorce, his father had been unfaithful to his mother throughout the years of their marriage. Years later, my former spouse informed his father of our own marriage breakdown due to his long term infidelity. His father's response: he offered him a cigar.
My former spouse had entered out marriage dishonestly. Other than words, there was no "forsaking all others" honoured in our wedding vows. The truth was finally revealed very much later on our 25th wedding anniversary.
Lying within a family relationship was second nature to him.
Were we destined to divorce or were there other factors? It is all speculation but the attributes of life scripting make a compelling case for the possibility our marriage was doomed from the very beginning.
My parent's marriage had been solid and I went into marriage with the firm belief I'd still be married today. All the later life thrill of adult children and grandchildren would be our shared prize for a life well lived.
Was a life script the reason that our marriage ended? According to Dr. Eric Berne's theories, life scripts begin in childhood. The seeds are sown for your life path, subconsciously. In the "children learn what they live" precept, I learned later in life that lying was acceptable within his own family. For a variety of reasons, there was a connection to lying that was constantly at work within the family. The lies were the ties that bound the family together to keep peace. It was a family tenet that twisting the truth to suit your needs was an advantage whether at home, school or out in the world.
Did that family practice factor into our marriage being a lie? Lying within a family relationship was second nature to him.
His parents were never close or comfortable with each other. Yet, in the beginning, it seemed we were. It never occurred to me that his parents' marital breakdown could be a factor in the success of our marriage. We'd note our compatibility at so many levels and his parent's lack of compatibility. We were different. As it turned out, we were different, shockingly so. It took years of therapy for me to recover.
In the early years of our marriage, he eagerly identified all the other marriages that were doomed. All those couples who would never see retirement years together. He cleverly made fun of others in marriages that were not as "perfect" as ours. Ironically, those same people are still very much married today. We were the ones whose marriage dissolved.
We small town baby boomers, for the most part, came from solid old fashioned marriages and family. My parents were depression era, making the best of whatever situation life handed them. My in-law's divorce was an anomaly in our small town. Depression-era parents in many instances, grew mellower and closer as the years went on and many proved to be models for us.
In my situation, mid-life crisis was the original excuse bandied about by my former spouse during our divorce 20 years ago.
Yet, according to recent statistics, boomers are the reason the divorce rate has stayed over 50 per cent. Not only that, the tsunami of boomers is bringing with it a tsunami of "grey divorce." The grey divorce was definitely not something baby boomers experienced to any great extent with our own parents.
Life scripting has its basis in Transactional Analysis. Dr. Berne's theory became popular in the 1960s. It focused on the parent, child, and adult in all of us. We play those roles with different people in our lives. Our communication with each other is a "transaction" and we select the part we play in each interaction.
Berne described the TA component of life scripting as "a life plan based on decisions made in childhood, reinforced by parents, justified by subsequent events and culminating in a chosen alternative."
In my situation, mid-life crisis was the original excuse bandied about by my former spouse during our divorce 20 years ago. Initially, he ignored the fact we were staring down a life time of his lies. Was that a convenient adult/child role to justify life-long marital betrayal? Personally, that was always my belief. Eventually he admitted our whole marriage had been a lie.
There are many aspects of the theory that supports my divorce being a life script. As Berne noted, choice is a major factor in this premise.
My counsellor's parting words were, "Don't ever feel sorry for him. He made the choices that brought you to this point in your life."
And that is a fact I know to be true.
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