My advice to a woman who is about to divorce her husband who is suffering from depression.
Right: Image appears courtesy of Heather Gillam. Click to enlarge.
Here I am quoting the very famous, beautiful, wealthy, upper-middle-class Virginia Woolf, whose husband was probably walking in your shoes at the time.
“Dearest, I feel certain I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of these terrible times again, and I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices and can’t concentrate. So I’m doing what seems to be the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I know that I’m spoiling your life and without me you could work, and you will, I know. You see, I can’t even write this properly. What I want to say is that I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me. And incredibly good. Everything is gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer. I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been.”
And another few lines, this time from one of the most famous psychologists in the history of the West: Carl Jung. “The root problem to all human suffering in this world is our unwillingness to face the necessary amount of pain in order for us to grow.”
I am a firm believer in this quote.
There is the truth that I always like to see the potential in everyone, even in the Black and Latino kids I taught for many years, most of whom, statistically, can’t make it into college. And even amongst despaired, depressed, delusional people, I see potential. I believe that this is our difference, and we have to draw a clear line here.
Since you do not want him as your husband anymore, therefore his problem should not be your problem anymore. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Then why are you still in so much pain?
There is a book called “The Beautiful Mind.” An young MIT woman fell in love and married a genius professor, John Nash, believing that he will bring her everything she ever desired. Years later, Nash turned out to be crazy. She divorced him in disillusionment and out-of-anger. However, later when she found out that Nash had nowhere to go and ended up on the streets without a penny, she had pity on him.
Without remarrying someone else, she opened her front door to let him into the house again and helped in treating his mental disorder. She worked hard to support the whole family and take care of this bum, who could not hold a paying job, for almost 40 years.
I won’t spoil the plot and the ending for you. Go read it on your own (or watch the Hollywood Version).
My father once wrote down something that I later discovered in his notebook, during a time when he was battling for his failing marriage with my mother: “If I can’t charge up this hill and back into her heart again, then this is the hill that I will die on.”
My parents could not be happier living and sharing their lives together nowadays after almost a decade of fighting, arguing, and under the constant reminder that there is a easier way out of this whole mess — divorce.
People are different. We all have different values while coming from different family backgrounds. And I must admit we all have to respect each others’ differences and boundaries. Coming from a stable and loving family, surrounded by unbroken promises of imperfect marriages of all of her friends, and living in such a conservative and collective society such as China, my wife does not even know the definition of the word “Divorce.”
That’s our marriage surviving! And I am grateful for this Chinese, conservative wife, who faithfully followed me through some of the worst years of my life. And I am indebted to the Chinese conservative culture where the divorce rate is so low compared to that of the West. And my wife and my marriage could not be better these days.
And I am trying to repay her for how much emotional debt I owe her for the rest of my life with heart-felt, honest gratitude of this undeserved kindness from her unconditional love for me. I am grateful for her, for not leaving me, every morning that I wake up beside her on the same bed.
I am not judging you. However, you want to hear my opinion, since there does exist an obvious parallelism here.
Here it is, fully told…
Charles L. Wang.