These days, divorce may be commonplace, but this man’s divorce turned out to be anything but normal. What began as a strange request ended in a surprise. If you read to the end of this story, you’ll be sure to learn something about the thing we call love. But warning: grab your tissues!
One day I came home, handed my wife her dinner, took her hand and said, “I want a divorce.” She didn’t seem the least bit upset, but calmly asked why. My answer was evasive, and that made her angry. She let her dinner plate fall and screamed, “You’re not a real man!” We didn’t speak at all that night. She cried. I knew she was searching for a reason for our failed marriage, but I couldn’t give her it: she’d lost me to Jane. I didn’t love her anymore. I just felt sorry for her!
I guiltily showed her the divorce papers, leaving her the house, car, and a 30% stake in my company. She looked angry and tore them up. The woman with whom I’d spent 10 years of my life was a stranger. I was sorry that she’d invested so much time, strength, and resources in our marriage, but I couldn’t take back what I’d said or felt. Finally, she broke down in tears, the reaction I had expected from the beginning — suddenly, the divorce felt more real.
When I came home late from work the next day, she was sitting at the table writing. I didn’t have anything to eat, just went straight to bed and fell asleep.
The next morning, she told me her terms for our divorce: she didn’t demand anything from me, but asked that I spend the next month living side-by-side with her as if everything were normal. Her reason: our son had important exams coming up in a month and she didn’t want to burden him with the divorce before that.
She also asked that I think back to our wedding day and how I carried her over the threshold to our house and into our bedroom. From now on, every morning for one month, I was to carry her out of our bedroom. I thought she was crazy, but to make our last days together more bearable, I agreed.
On day 1, we were both a bit clumsy when I carried her out, but our son clapped and sang, “Dad’s carrying Mom in his arms!” His words released a wave of pain within me. I carried her out of the bedroom, through the living room, and then to the front door. She closed her eyes and said in a soft voice, “Don’t tell our son a thing about the divorce.” I nodded and set her down outside in front of the door.
On day 2, we had already improved. She nestled herself into my chest and I could smell the scent of her shirt. I became aware that it had been a long time since I had consciously looked at my wife. Her face had fine wrinkles and her hair was slowly turning grey. Our marriage had left its marks on her. For a moment I asked myself what I’d done to her.
When I lifted her into my arms on day 3, I felt a flash of intimacy return. This was the woman who had bestowed 10 years of her life on me. On day 4 and 5, I could feel that intimacy even stronger. As the month went on, it got easier and easier to carry her, and I had the distinct feeling that she was getting thinner.
One morning it hit me that she must be carrying so much pain and bitterness towards me. Without thinking, I brushed my hand over her head. In that moment, our son came in and said, “Dad, it’s time to carry Mom out!” It had become a morning ritual for him that his dad would carry his mom out of the house. My wife grabbed him and held him to her chest. I turned away, because I was afraid it would change things. I lifted her into my arms and her hands instinctively wrapped around my neck. I held her tight — just like on our wedding day.
On the final day, as I held her in my arms, I couldn’t take it. I knew what I had to do. I drove to Jane’s apartment, climbed the stairs and said, “I’m sorry Jane, but I don’t want to leave my wife.”
Suddenly it was clear: I had carried my wife over that threshold on our wedding day and promised to hold her “til death do us part.” On my way home, I bought my wife flowers and when the florist asked what she should write on the card, I smiled and said, “I will carry you every morning, until death do us part.”
With the flowers in my hand and a huge smile on my face, I returned home. But my wife had passed away in her sleep when I was away. I later found out that she had been suffering from cancer for the last months, but I had been so preoccupied with Jane that I hadn’t noticed. She must’ve known that she was going to die soon and wanted to make sure that the relationship between my son and me wasn’t damaged. In his eyes, I was the most romantic husband he could imagine. And so I carried her one last time over the door frame…
Sometimes we only realize what we have when it’s too late. Maybe this story will remind someone thinking of breaking things off to think back to the day they fell in love. It’s an important message.