Still Not Over It

I’m still not over my marriage. Or The Mr.

That confession is probably more of a shock to me than it is to you.

I do not want to get back together with him. We’re still mutual on the belief that the bitter outweighs the sweet when it comes to us being together, and that we’re just not meant to be married to each other. There are things about him that I cannot live with and that he is unable or unwilling to change, and there are things about me that he cannot live with and that I am unable or unwilling to change. But knowing and understanding those cold, hard facts does not make me able to keep my stubborn feelings for him and the pain associated with the excruciatingly slow end of our marriage buried all the time.

Weeks go by where I don’t even think about it except to give thanks that I can come home to a quiet house and a sacred space of my own that he doesn’t often invade. I am happy not to have to do his laundry or pick up his dozens of water bottles left by the bed. I’m thankful to be able to have friends over without giving him notice. I’m happy to not fight about whether or not it’s ok for him to smoke inside the house.

But there are times when my alone-ness sinks into loneliness and I can’t help but miss his presence, the smell of his cologne after he’s left for work in the morning, his lap which made the perfect resting place for my feet, and his chest which made the perfect resting place for my face.

I know this will pass. I’ll cry myself to sleep for the next week or two and then he’ll say or do something that will make me sure that I hate him and thankful once again that he’s not around to pollute my environment. But it always comes back again.

What am I supposed to do with these feelings? Wait until they go away for good? How long will that take?

When my mother was here she told me that it took her years to get over my father. They divorced when I was still a little girl, maybe 5 years old. But she still loved him, through his relationships and hers, and hoped they’d get back together until I was 13 or 14. Is this what it’s really like?

I want so badly to move on. I want to love someone else, but, as The Consultant told me, I’m still in this relationship more than I realize or am willing to admit, and I don’t want to be living a double life. How do I get out of it and get over it?

When does the grieving stop? When will it not physically hurt? When will it be truly over? According to Charlotte, it takes half the time you were in a relationship to get over it, but I’m not sure if I can really count on the writers behind Sex and the City to get me through this. And I don’t have a trio of awesome gal pals and a Manhattan full of eligible bachelors to help distract me along the way either.

So you tell me, readers with real life experience. When? How? And what to do in the meantime?

45 thoughts on “Still Not Over It

  1. Hi there! Well I guess it wouldn’t be over unless you keep clinging on both happy sweet and bitter sad part of your marriage. First thing, love yourself more than anybody else. What makes you the real you and just be you.afterall marriage is just an addition to life but not forgetting your own. Then, what went wrong? Both of you must adjust for each other. Maybe you need to tighten a bit, and him a little bit loose. Also, write notes differentiating good and bad about your marriage. Try to balance. Next, project what lies ahead whether you being single or with him in forever. Where do you find yourself best? Love is not all about when you’re into marriage. Its a complete ingredients of all a little of this and that. Good luck! All the best!

  2. You will never get over it UTA. In time the feelings dim, but whilst your emotional needs are not being met you will feel as you say you do now. Make a genuine 5 year plan. Face up to where and how you will go forward. You must “cut the strings”. Saudi. men make us feel so special they are. Masters at it and it is addictive . So hard when it falls apart.

  3. I can truly relate…I miss the “idea” of my ex…the family that was “supposed to be” but that never really was…
    I can’t tell you how long it takes to “get over” because I’m still working on that myself, though it has been two and a half years since I kicked my ex out after telling me he had been involved in an affair for the previous six months.
    What I can say is that it has been a process for me…of ups and downs. There have been times I have felt that I was doing pretty well…and then something happens to knock me down where I wonder if I really was doing that well to begin with…but each day I continue to get up and keep moving…I’ll let you know when it doesn’t affect me anymore…though I think that may be never. :)

  4. Not really sure, A psychologist friend of mine one told me that once you met someone else the pain goes away. In my personnal experience while the pain of loneliness went away I still blame myself for getting in a bad relationship in the first place and having it last as long as it did. The leftover pain is not much about him as much as about me. I eventually will have to forgive myself but that is another story.

  5. I think that although it would be wonderful if you could “get over it” and stop it from hurting right now, I think it is pretty unrealistic at the moment. You are still living in his country, away from your family and it takes time to carve out a life of your own without him. I think the real focus needs to be on you creating a life that you love here, and focusing on you and your daughter’s futures. Your husband will always be your husband of sorts. Sure he might be your ex, or your first husband if you get remarried, but his presence will be permanent in your life because you were married and you have created a beautiful child. It always might hurt to some degree that it didn’t work out, just as if someone close to you dying will always hurt to some degree. It will just fade to something that can be managed, and one day you will be able to look back on the good memories without the bad ones stinging too bad. It takes a different amount of time for everyone and I would say it takes a lot of work to establish a life without them that you are happy. Think of it as if you built a house and someone burned it to the ground. You have a choice whether to rebuild on the old foundation, or move it somewhere else. If you move it somewhere else away from the charred remains, you definitely won’t run into the problem of scrubbing the burned remains. But you also won’t build yourself up the good memories of the past, or see the same view when you look out your window. Corny yes, but I like metaphors and similes. :) Appreciate the uniqueness of your situation, but know that there have been women who have gotten past it and thrived. We are all cheering for you.

    Much love,
    Yankee Doodle

  6. I am so sorry. I know the pain is great. I think by writing about your feelings, you are healing. It’s one of those “one day at a time” things. You may have days when your feeelings come up, and it’s ok to feel them and cry. As time goes on, we mature, and see things more fully, and that helps, a lot. It takes time, an it’s not black and white. Things come up for you. Don’t be hard on yourself. You are very brave, and the painful things we go through in life really do make us stronger women. You can get through this and
    rely on yourself. You don’t need someone else right away to make the pain go away, like a drug. When you are ready, someone really good will be there for you, if you allow yourself to grow, to feel you feelings now, and realize what you do not want in another relationship. Growth and strength is the oppotunity for you now. Your writing will advance this for you. Keep journalling. You are a strong, smart woman.

  7. There will always be a part of you that will love him and wish that things could have been different or better. I have found it best to acknowledge this as well as the heart’s ability to love many. He will always be a part of your family, but you owe it to yourself to hope and dream for another. You deserve to be happy, so please allow yourself. You may find another to love in the future, but do not feel guilty if you still love your first husband as you will always love him.

  8. I agree that meeting someone else definitely alleviates the pain. But as you said, you’re not exactly in Manhattan, where men can be met on the street, in a cab, in a cafe, etc. It’s a whole different world for you, and I would imagine trying to meet another man where you are is not a simple undertaking. I hope you’re not too hard on yourself for not getting over him quickly. You’re young, still in your childbearing ages. Not to be crude, but your body craves having a man by your side. That’s just the way it is for straight women in their childbearing ages, unless they have been pyschologically damaged by a bad relationship or experience. Because your husband was that man for you for so long, perhaps the longing that you feel for him sometimes is really a more basic longing for a male companion. I would suggest, as soon as you feel you are ready, that you go about looking for someone else, however, it’s done in S.A. You now know more about what you want in a relationship, but more importantly, what you don’t want. Make a list of the qualities you’re looking for and those you can’t stand, I think that starting to think ahead, about your future, will help you move out of that painful, sad place where you currently reside.

  9. My divorce is pretty fresh so I don’t have any real answers, but I think divorce is a lot like death. It’s permanent damage. Friends of mine who have survived divorce tell me that the love part never goes away. You’ll always love them and it will always hurt, but eventually it will hurt less. There are days when I can’t imagine getting out of bed and there are days when I’ve never felt happier. Wine helps. Girlfriends and wine are even better. Just remember to breathe and know that there are women out there like me who are so right there with you.

  10. I’m not sure what the Quran says about marriage, but I remember reading in the bible, many years ago, that a man leaves his family and cleaves to his wife, becoming one flesh with her. Now I know that is a physical impossibility, but allegorically, marriage is the weaving of two souls together, the pairing of two bodies. That person almost becomes another limb – an extension of your own body.

    If that is true of marriage, then it certainly explains why divorce is so painful. A signed decree of divorce does not neatly cut in two the emotional, physical and even spiritual bond a couple has formed with each other. It doesn’t magically undo the ‘cleaving’ of two souls. You made the decision to divorce for logical reasons but the body doesn’t always recognise or obey logic.

    If marriage is like getting an extra limb grafted to your body, divorce is like having that limb amputated. Real life amputees often talk about phantom itches, and residual feeling, sometimes even years after the limb has been removed. While I am not divorced, and can’t say for certain this is how it is, I could suggest that, much like a physical amputation, the psychological amputation of a spouse leaves phantom itches and plenty of residual feelings.

    My mother-in-law lives with us. She has been divorced for more than 25 years. Her ex-husband cheated on her, put her through hell, and is still with the woman he left her for (though it would be hard to say he’s happily married – more likely miserably married). She’s admitted to me many times that the pain is still sometimes raw. Not always, but sometimes when she least expects it, it sneaks up on her. She has never remarried. There were a couple of boyfriends when she was younger, but not for many, many years. She says she would never take him back and does not even want that, but that she can’t deny she still feels ‘something’ for him. Most of the time, that feeling is bitterness but sometimes it morphs into something else.

    Perhaps simply acknowledging there will always be some degree of phantom pain associated with your divorce will help you to accept that pain and move forward; to realise it isn’t something weird or unnatural but something many divorcees probably feel even if others aren’t as brave as you to admit in in a blog. In years to come, you may remarry, you may fall madly in love with a new man. But there are times you will probably still have that phantom itch or residual feeling in your amputated limb.

    On a completely practical POV, there are plenty of opportunities to meet other single people in Riyadh. We had single friends who met and fell in love in Riyadh. But it’s mostly done within the expat community. Do you ever go to the embassy functions in Riyadh?

  11. Awwww,honey! I really feel for you! I remember the pain, depression,self-blame,feeling of failure and even despair at times. I think being around friends as much as possible helps. That’s what helped me get past break-ups. I personally feel it’s good to have time between relationships to reassess …..but you are doing that anyway. I didn’t have kids with anyone but the man I am still with…but my sister did have children with a former husband. A couple of years after the divorce she met a wonderful man and had a child by him, too. She told me she always had “something in her” for her ex because they shared children,but it didn’t cause her pain anymore,even though they had to relate to each other regularly because of the children. He remarried and she was fine with it. He also died last spring and she admitted to feeling a little strange …..but because of the things he wouldn’t be there for….like the children’s weddings,etc. She had moved into another life which she was willing to share with him on occasions, but upon which otherwise he had no further influence. I think she was getting well past him by the time she met her second man,which was only two years, but all people are different. I ‘ve had several friends who took shorter or longer. A few of my acquaintances moved on within a year of the death or divorce to new marriages. One swore off marriage forever and turned her life to other things…raising her kids and doing great work in the community…and is now in her 60’s and very happy! But I honestly don’t know about any set time because there are so many variables in every person’s life….and I don’t know how you go about getting divorced and moving into new relationships there. You’ll be in my thoughts cuz been there, done that!

  12. Well… it takes time… you are better off having no distractions as getting in/out of relationships is not an answer to overcoming pain of the one you have lost. Getting to know yourself first and foremost and coming to terms with what you can compromise on and what is something you absolutely do not want in your life/relationship. That is a first step… once you are healed and ready things will happen. All this is of course much easier said than done, but speaking from experience it is a process and a long one at that.

  13. To me, the grieving process is necessary. It allows yourself to truly heal, and if you do not give yourself the time to do that, then you will never be able to fully move on because pieces of yourself are missing. I live in a small town in KY and I have grown up here my whole life. I went to a church from the age of 4-20. While I went there, I thought I was in love with my pastor’s son, even as a little kid. Tim and Kim. Our names even rhymed (meant to be with that right there, lol). We finally started dating in our teen years and it was horrible. We fought constantly. But I was determined Bc he was the guy everyone said I would marry and I thought that’s what I wanted. Well right before my freshman year of college we broke up. It hurt like hell. I thought I would never get over it. Seeing him take someone else to homecoming and prom. Like a dagger in the heart. And I had to see him every Sunday with his new girlfriend. But then one day ( about 1 1/2 years later) I realized I hadn’t checked (stalked) his Facebook in months. I didn’t think of him anymore. It did take me until my junior year of college to find the guy of my dreams (he is Saudi). So moving on and meeting someone else will come when you least expect it; and often times, that’s when we are ready.

  14. Sincere and heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you for your advice and for sharing your own experiences. I love you all! I’ve got myself back together for today, and I’ll be more patient with myself and this process in the future (I hope).

  15. some advice from another momma who has been there, if I may…First of all, your battle to move on with your life is gonna be a bit tougher because you’re dealing with this in a country that is not exactly known for being divorcee friendly and dating is a lot tougher in your current situation, but it’s NOT impossible to find happiness. Second, don’t put a time frame on the process. Everyone is different and you’re only gonna feel worse when u set a time frame and then fail to meet that goal. It took me years to get over my ex husband, even after every horrible thing he did during the marriage, EVEN after he got remarried, I still ached something awful. Finally, one day, I stopped praying for the strength to get over him. I finally just accepted that my heart would always be broken, and at that point, I started focusing on learning to just live with it. I threw my life into my children and my crappy job and my friends/family. Acceptance, is key. Because after that, a strange thing happened. Once I accepted that I’d never get over it and just starting trying to live with that pain, my life moved on and one day, I realized that even though I still think of him often, I just didn’t care anymore. It no longer hurt me like it once had in the past. And THAT is when things got better. My kids are a handful, my job is crappy and doesn’t pay much, but that constant ache is gone! You don’t need to replace him to get over him, you just need to change your focus, and focus on making YOU happy, every chance you get. Sorry about my long rambling post, I hope it makes sense!

  16. Sister, please bear patiently and avoid discussing your intimate marriage details out of respect for each other. If your marriage is over, you must move on and not live in the past. If you are only separated and have a chance to reconcile, please remember that there may be something you dislike in your companion but Allah (swt) has placed much goodness in it that you do not know about yet. It is inappropriate to discuss your marriage details so openly. I wish you success.

    • Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment, Zeeshan. I am in no way disrespecting anyone by sharing my own struggles.
      If you take a look at the comments here, I am not alone and my difficulties are not unique, and I believe that by sharing what I am going through, I could be helping quite a few people who may be dealing with similar issues and feeling totally alone.
      Whoever finds this post or those like it to be offensive or inappropriate is always welcome to navigate away.

    • I have read many posts and Under the Abaya has shown us a side to the Saudi man. He seems respectable and decent. I’m Canadian and as much as many of us would like marriage to last forever we live in a country where half end up in divorce. Being able to hear how people have overcome difficult times is great therapy. That being said, I think that if Under the Abaya met someone she would leave all the pain behind.

  17. Hi, Your comments on your marriage just echo my own thoughts and feelings, however due to the fear of extreme loneliness and the length of our marriage, 32 years, and the arrival of 2 grandsons from our 2 children in one year I made the decision to continue with our marriage. I still have severe loneliness, anger and hatred towards him and all the pain he has put me through, and the nagging disappointment I now have with my family life.
    I too like you wonder when will this pain ever ease, did I make the right decision? However I am comforted by the love and understanding of my own children, and occasionally I love him all over again, so I cling to those brief happy moments and hope they will become more frequent.
    I battle everyday to make myself happy as I am sure you do.
    I have seen so many friends and family come through what you are going through and find happiness again. You will be happy as I believe I will, we have to pull ourselves out of the darkness and find that happiness. I wish you all the best for your future.

  18. To be honest I am sitting on a fence in a emotionally abusive relationship and kind of scared to walk out .. Seeing what you are going through makes me wonder which is better staying back or walking out .. Sorry instead of helping you I am pouring out my problems ..

  19. As many have said, I also think that learning to accept this burden as a part of life is some degree of necessity…In my life, I have had many relationships, romantic or otherwise, and I am a very nostalgic person.

    At a certain point in my memory, everything in the past starts to look perfect, or imperfect in this quaint and beautiful way. Memories of time spent with old friends, even if they were fleeting or boring or less-than-satisfactory at the time, suddenly begin to evolve into this vague feeling of having spent ages with them in awkward, youthful bliss, the kind which deserves its own indie movie soundtrack, and former lovers start to seem poetic and blameless, more lovely than they really were, their sacrifices and efforts for me more flattering than before, the story better after the fact. And, even knowing this, I swear I could get drunk off the longing to return sometimes—especially when something triggers it, like a smell or a song or even just the particular feel of the weather that day. Especially clothing. If I find or see clothing that looks precisely like that of someone I knew well? Game over, man. I still have a sweatshirt from my first crush in a box in my attic with the power to make me want to break out the CD’s of my high school years, locked away like Marie Curie’s radioactive cookbook in its lead box.

    I have sometimes thought about what it would be like if my husband and I divorced, mostly in the first year or so of our marriage, when we had a rough adjusting phase. Probably post-divorce would involve all of my nostalgia to an extreme degree because of the time invested, or, if we have children, seeing (and loving!) the features of him in my kid, and wanting to nurture and protect the kids’ views and love of their father. I would be absurdly surprised, especially given your current limbo, to imagine that you would never have such feelings lingering around.

    I guess I’m trying to say that sometimes, for some people, this never goes away, especially if you have one person in mind—and one person largely representing a big chunk of your life. For me, things will be going great, I will not be dissatisfied at all, and I will be drowning in work and tasks…and then, all of a sudden, it hits me, and I want to pick up the phone and call the guy I dated in college, or my old friend from my first job, whatever.

    I might be an extreme case, but, even so, I’ve come to accept it as sort of a part of being alive, complete with that weird duality of happiness and difficulty that comes with living in the first place. Less sentimentally, I’ve also come to regard these pangs as something like food cravings: they strike out of nowhere, they might last a few minutes or linger around for a day or two, they may be of varying intensities, but, eventually, they go away, and I’m a whole lot better off for not inhaling that cake!

    Sorry for the unsolicited rambling, as before. I’ll finish this off by doing the nerdiest thing in the world and quoting Spock (seriously) from the old Star Trek series: “You may find that having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting.”

    Take care of yourself.

  20. When you love someone its hard to realize that you can’t over it. Inshallah everything will workout. Are you still planning to stay there for rest of your life?

  21. I have been dating a Saudi for 2 years. He is here in the USA studying, and recently told me when he’s done with school, he is returning to Saudi Arabia. Not only that, but he told me he would not be allowed to marry me because he is only allowed to marry someone from his tribe. My heart is broken. I am still with him and cannot let go even tho part of me tells me to break up with him. I can’t. He is my best friend. I love him with all my heart :( I don’t know how…or if…I will ever get over him..this situation?? Any advice?

    • The thing I’ve learned about love is that it does not require possession. You do not have to HAVE someone to love them with all your heart. So if fate will have it that this man will return to his country and leave you behind, know that it happened because it was supposed to happen and that you can love him for as long as you need to. Yes, you will eventually get over it (and him).
      At least he is being honest with you. I give him props for that.

      • Thank you…I guess all I can do is pray that he makes the decision to stay, and if not..I will wish him well in his life. I suppose the saying is true..”when you truly love someone, you should let them go if they want to go.” And you’re right. I shouldn’t be possessive. I guess I didn’t even realize that’s what I was doing until I heard it from you. I do appreciate what you said :)

  22. Hi,

    I have not divorced once in my life but have been broken at heart many times and have lived in that pain for so many months at a time. Every time after that I fall back in love with my husband who has many other positive and admirable qualities. I think you are still in love with your husband and that is the reason you feel the pain while being away from him. But all I am going to say is that this is a phase that you are undergoing and its not going to last long. I mean to say that you are still capable of loving your husband and hence can reconcile with him if not for yourself at least for the sake of your daughter. Just hang in there. You have overcome a lot of hurdles in your life to get married to him. If you could change your religion and migrate to a new country I surely think you will be able to over come this hurdle too. When I got married I made up my mind never to divorce no matter what happens. That determination helped to a large extent because when I encountered a problem I could circumvent the issue of divorce and think of other solutions to the problem. Also my two children helped in shaping my determination. My husband was a wonderful father to them and I was not going to throw that away for anything. My children had to have me and him together in their lives and I was going to give them no matter what. My husband and I had some differences but nothing that could not be sorted out with some sacrifices mostly from my side. We have been married for the past 14 years but now I do see a sea of changes in him. He has come to understand my feelings and I am able to feel the love I had for him during our courtship days. I wish well for you and your daughter and do hope your husband comes to appreciate you once again and live a happy life together. All the best.

  23. Hi UTA,

    I was just going through your previous blogs and I could understand the struggle you have undergone in the past. I am sorry if my previous post sounded patronizing. I really feel for you and it is really unfortunate that your daughter cannot travel back with you if you choose to end it. My wishes and prayers are with you. God bless.

  24. Assalamualaikum.Your writing saddened me.Alhamdulillah i have been married to my my wife for 35 years now and praying to Allah swt to keep my marriage intact till to hereafter.I assumed both of you are no more compatible.That is one of the reasons Allah allows divorce.Face it.Submit to His plans.I have the feeling if you are sincere,truthful,faithful or TAQWA,you will be rewarded.Please dont blame the religion but the followers.Remember life here is short and temporary.The other life is immortal.Focus to that.

    • Wa alaikum salam. Congrats on your 35 years of marriage! That’s no easy task.

      I’ve totally accepted that we’re not compatible, divorce sounds delightful at this point. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have residual emotional attachments, especially when I see this man every day and depend on him for the most basic things here in Saudi. I don’t blame religion for my marital problems, and I also don’t think that religion will save me from them. It’s something that will work itself out in time. Time is the only fixer here.

  25. Hi undertheabaya,

    I read almost all your post in the last couple of days every since I came across your blog. You are doing a great deed by sharing your experiences with us, especially for people like me who are/will be in a similar situation. I’m really grateful that I found your blog and I get to read first hand experiences on what is like to be living in Saudi among the locals as a foreigner! I hope things will work out for the best for you and your current situation (I don’t want to comment any further about this, because this is exactly what I am afraid of MYSELF)! You are a very strong and courageous women! May Allah svt reward you with all that is pure and beautiful! Ameen.

    Much love from Canada..

  26. I think it is even a more difficult story for you because I can read between the lines and think that he has more wives than you and you did not know this until you got trapped into your situation in Saudi. Which complicates things even more. The betrayel in this case is on different levels and wind up interchanging with each other. I guess I admire your hope that there still is someone out there for you. I hope and pray that is the case for you.

    • He does not have more wives. I got into my situation in Saudi because of my own mistakes. I am not defending him, these are simply the facts.
      If and when he chooses to take another wife or a hundred wives, that is his business and I support him fully in doing so because our marriage is over. But for the time being, he does not have any other wives :)

  27. I’m so sorry. I never knew how much pain you’re in. Let’s hang out more. Girlfriends can help with the pain even if we can’t take it away 😍

  28. Patience is the key. But I agree it’s hard. I’m still not over it myself, after 14 months of separation. It’s even harder when you share a child or live in the same country.
    Getting over it takes time. You have to go past the anger, the guilt, you have to find peace within yourself.
    You’ll achieve it. I pray God grant you this peace soon, so you can start again and find a good man.
    Take care and let things happen in the right time for you.

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