Last week I met a girl I went to school with. It’s been years since we’ve seen each other, and we were trying to catch up over a cup of coffee. As she was telling me about her glamorous life, her wonderful husband and all her accomplishments, she abruptly stopped and asked:
“Do you love your children more than your husband?”
As I sat there sipping my cup of coffee and looking at the friend I haven’t seen in years, I understood that something was wrong and I sensed that she was extremely unhappy. Even though she just told me about her perfect world complete with a perfect marriage, I sensed that she was desperately trying to convince the whole world and herself that she was living the life she dreamed of. Yet, underneath all that posh, I knew that she was lost and unhappy. Knowing her personality and how strong she was I knew that perhaps for the first time in her life she was uncertain of her future and was scared that her perfect world wasn’t that perfect.
I reached out to her and asked what was wrong. She automatically brushed me off with a smile, but pressed for an answer.
I put my hand over hers and said: “I love my children, and I adore my husband.”
“Ok”, she said, “but do you love them the same?”
“No”, I said.
She looked at me in disbelief, maybe because I was fast to answer, or maybe because she didn’t expect such an answer. So I continued:
“I believe that we as parents love our children with all our hearts. I believe that each and every parent thinks that their child is the brightest, the most beautiful, and the most talented. Some of us are blatant about it, and some are more subdued, but every parent glows looking at their children’s accomplishments and triumphs.”
“I believe that when parents choose to have children, they take on a responsibility to love them unconditionally, but they never vow to love their spouse the same.”
“I would die for my children and my husband, but do I love them the same? No.”
My friend looked at me and said: “So it’s ok if I don’t love my husband and my daughter the same?” She looked like the schoolgirl I remember from so many years ago. With tears running down her cheeks all I could do was hold her hand.
After few minutes I asked:
“Do you love your husband?”
She sat there looking at me for a long time, and then quietly said: “No”. She said that she was unhappy for a very long time, married for all the wrong reasons and saw no way out.
“There is always a way out”, I said. Everyone deserves to be happy, and I believe alone and happy is better than married and miserable.
She got up as soon as I finished my sentence and to my surprise announced to the whole Starbucks “I don’t love my husband, I’m leaving him and getting a divorce”.
For her this was a break through- for me it was a disaster. I just steered someone in the direction of divorce. Am I going to hell for this?