What If I Had Married My Ex?
A friend and I were discussing this topic recently because he has been having problems with his wife lately. He asked me if I remembered a Sheena*, whom he dated when we were in our mid-20’s. I told him yes, as I had actually run into her recently. He wanted to know how she looked, was she married, any kids, etc. I told him I didn’t know because we only said “Hi” , and made small talk about him. When I told him this, he stated, “man, she should’ve been my wife.” I wasn’t sure how to respond. I asked him why?
His response floored me for a second. He told me that out of all the women he ever dated, Sheena set his soul on fire like no other. She is the one woman he’s never really gotten “out of his system”. He couldn’t explain why, other than to say it was just…her. He got quiet for a minute afterwards.
I took the break in the conversation to remind him of a few things. First of all, it was his decision to marry another woman, even though he felt the way he did about Sheena. Secondly, I had to remind him that it’s not like he and Sheena were in a continuous, long term relationship. They were on again, off again for almost three years before he made the decision to marry his now wife. I doused the rest of his fire by telling him that the reality of their relationship was quite different than the romanticized version he remembered. Deep down, I think he knew I was right.
This story plays out similarly everyday for others. People focus more on what someone from their past would be like as a spouse, then the one they have. This can lead to feelings of resentment against their mate, as well as cause a fissure that will be hard to close. Not too many people are going to tell their spouse, “I wonder what my life would be like if we never got married, or I married someone else”. The reason they won’t is because most people are too smart (scared?) to do so. However, if they did? It would open up two topics that would be painful for both spouses.
The first topic deals with the mate who admits to wondering. If they are the type that is confounded by the thought, then what they face is the possibility that they made a major, life altering, mistake. NOBODY wants to be the person that realizes that. It will cause all kinds of emotional and mental upheaval. But, if they never share how they feel with their spouse, it will well up in them until it comes bursting out at the most inopportune time.
The second topic deals with the spouse who has had the statement made to them. The feeling of not being good enough could arise. If it did, there would be almost nothing that their husband/wife could say to them to negate the feeling. All the actions, and words that would come after that would be looked at with some degree of disbelief. If it affected them in a major way, the marital union could fail, and divorce could be in the couple’s future.
A person has to be honest with themselves about their feelings. But, what they cannot do is allow past thoughts to rule their current situation. If they do, they’ll find themselves in a different kind of “what if” situation. One where they’ll wonder, “what if I kept these thoughts to myself?”
*Sheena is not her real name, of course.*
Have you ever wondered “what if”? Have you shared those thoughts with anyone, or kept them to yourself?