Love Interrupted


If you have read the posts on my blog, you know that I am the “Divorce Buster” and that my posts are primarily about marriage. Today, I will take out time from my marital musings to write about a personal experience so profound, that it has nearly stopped me dead in my tracks.

Five weeks ago, I received a phone call from a policeman that I will never forget for as long as I live. He matter-of-factly told me that my 84-year-old mother had been involved in a car accident. There had been a light dusting of snow that morning and although the roads were clear, my mother hit black ice as she drove on an overpass. Her car swerved out of control, hit a guard rail which then punctured the car and pinned her until she was later cut out and flown by helicopter to a city hospital. Frozen with fear, I demanded to know about her condition and he replied, “I don’t know.” Without any words of consolation, he informed me of the name of the hospital where she would be taken. My daughter and I raced to the hospital only to discover that my mother had already died.

I knew my mother would die some day…everyone does, but I never even mildly entertained the possibility that her life would end in this sudden, tragic way. My mother was a courageous, resilient fighter. She was a Holocaust survivor who found meaning in life by helping others in her capacity as a therapist. For many years, she was Elizabeth Kubler Ross’ right-hand person in Europe. Besides assisting people with grief, she taught them about forgiveness and self-acceptance. Although a German Jew whose life was forever altered by the Nazi regime, my mother often helped guilt-ridden Germans who, although not personally responsible for war atrocities, were nonetheless crippled with emotional pain. She taught these Germans about self-love and forgiveness, an endeavor not completely understood by some relatives who harbored deep anger and resentment over their substantial losses in life. But my mother was a lover of life and of people. She understood as no others about the importance of letting go and being in the present moment. She loved unconditionally and spread her philosophy in the workshops she offered throughout the world and with people she met everywhere- at the post office, airport, grocery store or while sitting in a waiting room in a doctor’s office. In a sense, she was a Johnny Appleseed of love.

The holocaust wasn’t the only challenge in my mother’s life. She survived two rounds of colon cancer and more recently, breast cancer. Prior to her death, she was totally in remission and triumphant because of it.

So, the fact that I was sitting in a hospital room with my daughter being told that some freak accident took my mother’s life was more than I could fathom. I was so very close to my mom- my mentor and best friend- I wasn’t sure I could take my next breath.

It’s about six weeks post-accident now and I’m still breathing. I’m trying hard to focus on our great memories, the joy, unconditional love and support that she brought to my life. But the truth is, the pain tends to cloud my vision. Pain also robs me of the comfort of uninterrupted sleep. Solitary time in the wee hours of morning while the rest of the world sleeps has given me time to think and I want to share some of my reflections with you.

No one gets out of here alive
I always thought that accidents or horrendous events are things that happen to other people, that my life and my loved ones lives are immune to tragedies such as this. How naive. Random tragic acts happen all the time. That’s the bad news. The good news is that they should serve as a reminder to:

Live each day fully. Don’t put off until tomorrow to do or say the things that are really important to you. Tomorrow may never come. Don’t feel anxious about the frailty of life, embrace it. It can be a gift.

Although you can’t do anything about mistakes in the past, you can live your life today in such a way that tomorrow will make you proud and give you serenity.

Don’t have emotional cut offs in your life. Put aside meaningless pettiness with the people you love. A couple of family members allowed their differences with my mother to keep them distant for long periods of time despite her efforts to reconcile. Today, their regret is profound. Don’t make the same mistake in your life. Even if you feel that you’ve been wronged, forgive. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. Holding a grudge takes an enormous emotional, spiritual and psychological toll. Letting go, on the other hand, frees you from the shackles of the past.

Talk about death
Because of my mother’s work with Kubler Ross and her own propensity for talking about tough subjects, I know my mother’s thoughts about death. I know that she helped many, many families whose loved ones were dying. She encouraged them to talk about their feelings about life and death. She coached people to give their loved ones the encouragement or support they needed to let go when the time was right. She helped them say goodbye. My mother was a mid-wife of sorts, guiding people through life’s final transition. Thankfully, I knew she had no fear of death. Her only wish was to go quickly. And that she did.

If you or someone you love has failing health, make sure you don’t allow your sadness, fear about death or discomfort talking about hard subjects to stand in the way of your having important conversations with them. Have the courage to lead the way. Often, people who are dying really want to talk about their feelings and can’t because everyone around them fears the conversation. Don’t be afraid. Connect. I would do anything to have one more chance to say goodbye to my mother. Maybe you still have that chance. Don’t waste it.

The importance of letting go
My mother’s final lesson to me is, without question, the most difficult. It’s about letting go. It seemed that in her own life, no matter what challenge she encountered, she found a way to accept and embrace it, to learn from it and to let go. My mother had developed great skill in doing what Buddhists refer to as “living in the now.” At this point in my grieving, it’s hard to imagine that I will ever be able to follow her lead and find a way to accept what is and be at peace with my loss. But it’s as if my mother’s voice has stayed with me. Just when I think that despair has kidnapped my life, I hear my mother’s admonishments and reminders. She would not want me to suffer. She would want me to love life, myself and others. She would want me to embrace what is, move forward with life and catch glimpses of her essence in nature- the mountains that are out my window, the flowers in the spring, the golden aspens of Fall and the blooming African violet plants that she left behind. She would want me to let go of the pain and see the beauty around me, cherish the joy we shared and the love I was blessed to have had my whole life. But unfortunately, I’m not quite there yet. And rather than condemn myself for falling short of this expectation so soon after her death, I can hear my mother’s familiar comforting words, “Michele, trust the process.” And so I will.

Michele Weiner Davis is the creator of the Divorce Busting Centers, learn more on how you can solve marriage problems and stop divorce. Follow me on Twitter @divorcebusting, add my Divorce Busting Facebook Page, and subscribe to the Divorce Busting YouTube Videos for more advice and upcoming marriage saving events.

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Confessions of a Mother in Mourning

Last week in Boulder, Colorado where I live, the heat wave broke. We had torrential rain, which is totally uncharacteristic of our desert-like climate, and vastly cooler temperatures when the sky cleared. For the most part, in a place where air conditioners are either non-existent or politically incorrect and swamp coolers rule, you’d think that relief would be the expected response. And truth be told, there was some of that. But lying just below the surface was the undeniable fact that Fall is upon us.

Now, if you’ve ever been to Boulder when the Aspens turn brilliant gold and the maples show off their amazing orange and magenta hues, you would think that Fall would inspire nothing less than ecstasy. But for me, despite my awe of Nature in action, Fall means fall, which my thesaurus defines as plunge, descend, plummet. Yup, that’s me. And when I tell you why, I know that it’s not only me; I’m in good company.

You see, although my children are grown- ages 28 and almost 23- I confess that I am still not happy that they have left the nest. Yes, please don’t write unkind comments about the fact that children are supposed to grow up and leave home and be happy, functional adults, I know that. I also know I would be very concerned if that were not the case. But it is. Yet, I miss their being home with us. I confess. I long for the times when all three beds were filled. (My husband and I sleep in the same bed unless he snores.) My youngest is just about to graduate from college and I’m still not completely used to the idea that he doesn’t live at home anymore. Call me a slow learner. I just don’t like it.

But why now? Why has this resistance to change resurfaced in the last few days? It seems like every Fall I’m reminded of kids going off to school. I see little ones getting on the school bus for the first time. I can’t help but notice young moms at the grocery store buying school supplies, juice boxes and brown paper lunch bags. I can’t help but notice that I’m not. I have friends whose children are going off to college as freshman. I see the bittersweet looks on their faces. I think to myself, “You think that parenting was hard, wait until they’re gone!” I recall not being able to remember who was crying harder in the car on the way to drop my daughter off at her orientation as a freshman. I tried to hide my tears but how do you mute Niagra Falls?

And lest you think that I am simply an over-the-top, enmeshed mother, I’ll have you know that when I finally got the nerve to discuss this yearning with other women, I quickly learned that this back-to-school sadness may just be an epidemic. Apparently, there are more mourning moms than I imagined. The interesting thing is that my confidantes were a mixture of both stay-at-home moms and moms with busy, high-powered careers. It mattered not. We were all perfect messes. In the same way that no one can prepare you for what it’s like to welcome a newborn into your life, no one can give you sense of the longing that often occurs when your not-so-little ones spread their wings. Although I remind myself that my children’s leaving home is all part of life’s normal transitions, letting go just isn’t for sissies.

Michele Weiner Davis is the creator of the Divorce Busting Centers, learn more on how you can solve marriage problems and stop divorce. Follow me on Twitter @divorcebusting, add my Divorce Busting Facebook Page, and subscribe to the Divorce Busting YouTube Videos for more advice and upcoming marriage saving events.

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"I didn't mean to have an affair, it just happened."

Having been a therapist for a very long time has afforded me the opportunity to meet    people from all walks of life with varied opinions, personalities, strengths and idiosyncratic quirks. I’m never bored, rarely shocked and almost never angered. But take note, the operative word here is “almost.”

I have lost count of the number of times when a spouse who’s been unfaithful says, “I wasn’t looking for an affair, it just happened.” It’s as if these people were simply going about their day, minding their own business and alas, they suddenly find themselves stark naked in hotel rooms having breathless, passionate sex as if there’s no tomorrow. It just happens? Uh, I don’t think so.

Affairs aren’t spontaneous; they require careful planning and decision-making. Often, the choices people make that pave the way for an affair- dinner with a co-worker, meeting an old boyfriend or girlfriend for a drink after work just to catch up, having lunch with an attractive, single neighbor on a regular basis or sending a lengthy Christmas update to a long lost heart throb- can seem relatively innocent. But one dinner date or late night conversation often leads to another and another and another. The talk becomes more personal. Confessions of marital dissatisfaction bubble to the surface prompting empathy and support. People tell themselves, “I just needed someone to talk to. I wanted input from someone of the opposite sex.” But you don’t need a degree in psychology to know that the implicit message in these conversations is, “I’m unhappily married. Want to fool around?” You can tell yourself that you’re not doing anything wrong, but the truth is, it’s a sheer, slippery slope.

Then there is alcohol, the inhibition-buster that “made me do it.” And while it’s true that many a bad decision has been made while under the influence, unless like teenagers in Cancun on spring break, people’s mouths are forced open and alcohol poured down their throats, having a drink is a decision. Having two drinks is two decisions. You can do the math on the rest of the story.

What about bad marriages? Don’t they justify being unfaithful? After all, life is short. We only have one go around, right? What’s always amazed me is how differently people react to similar circumstances. I’ve met people whose spouses refused to have sex for years and although that made them miserable, they simply could not cheat. I’ve met other people who, when their relationships hit predictable bumps in the road, rather than work things out, they sought comfort in the arms of strangers. Unhappy marriages don’t cause infidelity. Being unfaithful causes infidelity.

Nevertheless, life is short and feeling lonely in marriage is no way to live. But dulling one’s pain through the instant gratification of hot sex or emotional closeness with someone who doesn’t argue with you about bills, children or the in-laws isn’t an effective or lasting way to fix what’s wrong. In fact, infidelity complicates life enormously for everyone involved, a fact that should not be minimized when planning the next “just friends” Starbucks break.

People who say their affairs just happened aren’t necessarily intentionally trying to cover their asses or justify their behavior; they often truly believe what they’re saying. They simply lack insight or awareness of the ways in which their actions, however subtle, have created their current predicaments. But in the same way that affairs don’t just happen, neither does healing from betrayal. Unless those who have strayed look inward and take personal responsible for the paths their lives have taken, they will not be able to get back on track when they’ve gotten derailed. In my view, being unconscious just doesn’t cut it.

Michele Weiner Davis is the creator of the Divorce Busting Centers, learn more on how you can solve marriage problems and stop divorce. Follow me on Twitter @divorcebusting, add my Divorce Busting Facebook Page, and subscribe to the Divorce Busting YouTube Videos for more advice and upcoming marriage saving events.

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Michele Weiner-Davis – Divorce Busting

Michele in front of the Divorce Busting Center

Welcome to the Divorce Busting Blog.

I know that you have come here because you are having problems in your marriage and you desperately want solutions.  You have come to the right place.  Since the early eighties, I have devoted myself to helping couples make their marriages work  and keep their families together.

Too many people make the decision to divorce without really understanding the impact divorce will have on everyone they love.  Unfortunately, many end up feeling that divorce causes more problems than it solves. I wholeheartedly want to help you find ways to motivate your spouse to work on your marriage so that you and your children (if you have them) won’t become another divorce statistic.

I feel very optimistic about this goal because over the years, I have helped thousands of couples resolve their differences and reinvent their relationships.  So, in addition to all the information you will find on my website,, you will be able to read my thoughts about relationships here. Come back often to visit.  I will help you get your marriage back on track.

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