One Perspective on Divorce

Disclaimer: I was raised Roman Catholic but I consider myself simply a person of faith.

While I was going through my divorce, I found it difficult (as a man) to find resources to help me make it through the fog. I ended up in a church-based group pretty far from where I lived. It wasn’t my preference but it was all I could find.

Despite the “churchness” of it, there were a few things I learned and two primary things I took away from my experience with that group:

  1. 1. I didn’t want to end up like some of those folks who still believed there was something they could do to win back their ex-spouse (after 5, 10 or even 20 years of divorce!), and
  2. 2. An image that helped explain why the experience of going through a divorce was so painful

I want to explain Point 2 briefly and where I am now with respect to it.

At one point in the 12-week series (can you say twelve steps?!), the leader shared an interesting concept with the group; she said, “When a man and a woman are single, they are two entities.” (She drew two small stick figures, a man and a woman.) “When they marry, they become one entity.” (She drew one larger stick figure.) “When a couple gets divorced, the ‘one’ is torn apart.” (She drew the larger stick figure broken in two.)

With that image, all of a sudden the loss and the pain I was experiencing made more sense.  I understood why I felt so incomplete. In fact, I realized there were still pieces of my ex-wife “in me” that I recognized were her and now I had a visual image that explained how we could be apart and I could still feel connected (weird, huh?).

I’ve since come to think and believe that, as much as this church program’s explanation helped, there is more to the story.

I think when two people marry, instead of the two becoming one, the two become three. Each person remains their own entity and they create a third shared entity. If we truly became “one” (in all aspects), we would die when separated. Given the 50% divorce rate, there’d be a lot of dead ex-husbands and ex-wives lying about.

After marrying, we each continue to be independent beings that create a third inter-dependent being. This “third entity” becomes an extension of us.

When a divorce happens, the third entity “dies.” The remaining partners are able to move on IF THEY CHOOSE TO (and one more than likely already has!) by focusing once again on their independent selves. If you try to keep the third entity alive, you are doomed. This is what I saw some of the folks in the group doing (and in truth, it was what I was trying to do): they were trying to believe the third entity was still alive.

It is not easy to let go of the third entity and focus entirely on your independent self again.

I’ve moved on and am happy with my life again. It took a lot of time and a lot of work. That’s my story. It didn’t have to be. It’s not everyone’s story. Whether it will be yours, I can’t say. That will be up to you and you alone to decide. But it is possible. And there are folks out there (like us) who can help.


  1. Manager of this blog - Martha Chan Martha Chan says:

    I like the stickman image and I think the “3rd entity” approach is very helpful. Thanks.

  2. You’re welcome! It really helped me better understand the pain and the loss I was feeling and begin to grieve the death of the marriage (the 3rd entity).