Divorce Saved My Marriage

Cooper Thornton
14 min readJan 11, 2022

Divorce saved my marriage. We’d had 27 years of mostly good times together and still thought very highly of each other. The divorce saved it from going horribly south. Saved it from bitterness. Saved us from words we couldn’t take back. Saved us from really fucking up our children. Saved us from hating ourselves for enduring further what we thought we were supposed to wait for death to part.

We still think highly of each other. At least I do, of my ex I mean. Maybe I’m crazy to think she thinks well of me too. She acts like she does. I don’t think she just endures me. Maybe I should ask her. But why? We’re already divorced. Why fuck with a good divorce?

It is a good divorce. The whole process really couldn’t have been much smoother. We separated and filed in California, even though we’d be moving to North Carolina before the divorce was final. See, in California, you’re only required to be separated for 6 months after filing and in North Carolina, it has to be at least a year. We wanted to go ahead and get it done. We’d been together 27 years, and in individual and couples therapy for the last two years of that. Why postpone what we knew to be the right thing?

We were in therapy one afternoon and it felt clear to me that our marriage had run its course. It had felt that way for awhile. I turned to my then wife and asked,

“Do you think I can be who you need me to be (for you to be happy in our marriage)?” She answered. “No.”
“And do you think you can be who I need you to be?” “No.”
“Yeah. See, I don’t think I can be what you need. And I don’t think you can be what I need. So, let’s just do the right thing and move on.”

Of course, it wasn’t that simple. It was a sad place to reach. A hard decision to stop trying for something that we’d honestly been working on for most of our marriage. When do you decide that you’ve waited long enough for that winning hand that will turn everything around, and you just need to get up from the table and count your losses? Gambling probably isn’t the best analogy. Neither of us thought it was a gamble when we married. We knew it was a sure thing.

I had loved this person from the moment we met. Even before. Several seconds before we were introduced, I saw her talking with my mom, and my mom’s face was lit up. And this…

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Cooper Thornton

Parent, Actor, People Lover, Observer, Writer and Most Often Happy Depressive in NC by way of LA by way of UK by way of BC by way of TN, where it all started.