I Just Want to Know Why?

I Just Want to Know Why?

"There's more to getting to where you're going then just knowing there's a road."

~ Joan Lowery Nixon, In the Face of Danger

I met a woman the other day whose husband recently told her that he wants a divorce. She feels as if the carpet has been pulled out from under her, and she's still trying to keep it all together for the sake of her kids, yet she's fearful, angry, scared, and lonely.  I remember that period and I hated it. My heart breaks for her.

We talked for a couple of hours. As you can imagine, it was a circular discussion -- two steps forward, one step backward, as she tried to figure out proactively what she needed to do next, yet simultaneously becoming overwhelmed by the enormity of it all and the realization that her marriage was indeed over.

"I just want to know why." was the one statement she kept repeating over and over. "I just want to know why he left … I just want to know what happened … I just want to know what went wrong …I just want to know when he made up his mind that he was leaving."

I remember being in that same place of wanting answer for questions that really didn't have concrete answers.  This isn't as simple as "Why was the baseball game canceled? Because it was storming outside," or "Why are we not going on our family vacation? Because we spent our vacation fund putting an addition on the house." Those questions have answers. You may not like the answers, but they are answers nonetheless.

There isn't always such a clear answer to the "I just want to know why our marriage is over" question, and I think frequently we focus too much on trying to find that answer. We get sucked into finding an answer to that question. This woman was spending so much time searching for answers to "why" that she wasn't moving forward with "now what." She was at an absolute standstill.  At the end of the day, the "why" was that her husband was having an affair and wanted to spend the rest of his life with the other woman, but that didn't satisfy her need to know "why" at deeper levels. Her "whys" focused more on "why did this start, why did he keep seeing her, why did he love her more, why did he lose interest in their marriage …" and on and on. 

Would it be great to have answers to all these open questions when we find ourselves faced with a marriage that is ending and a pending divorce? Yes, probably! It's always nice to be able to tie things up in a neat little bow and have everything accounted for. Is it realistic? Absolutely not! Is it dangerous to focus on getting these answers? Most likely, yes!

I asked this woman whether anything would really change if she knew the answers to her multiple questions of "I just want to know why?" Would anything truly change if her husband were able to answer these questions? Would it make her feel better? Would it soothe the hurt that she was feeling? Or, would it simply exacerbate the situation? Would she become obsessed with finding the antidote to his reasoning? Would she lay awake rehashing what she could have / would have / should have done differently?

Sometimes we really don't need to have the answers to every question. Sometimes we just need to move forward with faith that things will get better, and we need to spend our energy focusing on moving things forward with positive momentum. Sometimes we need to find peace in our heart to accept that we aren't always going to understand why things happen.

I pray that this woman finds the peace to let go of her search for answers as to "why" her marriage ended. Note, this is different from asking questions to learn, improve and grow from this experience. This is different from not finding your own accountability in the process of divorce (see my prior HopeAfterDivorce.com post Accountability). This is about not becoming stuck in the search for answers to unanswerable questions to the detriment of moving forward positively.  This takes time; trust me, I get that. It's all part of the healing process. But, at some point we need to stop asking 12 levels of "why," stop focusing on the "if only" and the "what if'," and instead begin to focus on our own healing.

What about you? Are you stuck in the "why" zone? Are you asking questions that have no real, tangible answers? Are you at a standstill because you keep telling yourself that once you find these answers then you will be ready to move forward? Do you really believe that?

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Monique A. Honaman More Articles By This Author

Monique A. Honaman is the author of "The High Road Has Less Traffic: honest advice on the path through love and divorce. The "High Road" is an inspiring roadmap for marriage, a positive exit strategy for "surviving" divorce, and a powerful life philosophy. Monique's second book in the series, "The High Road Has Less Traffic ...
and a better view," has just been released. She is also the founding partner of ISHR Group, which provides global solutions in the area of leadership assessment, development and coaching.

Monique received her B.A. from the University of Michigan, a Masters of Labor and Industrial Relations from Michigan State University, and a Juris Doctorate from Albany Law School. She was profiled by the Atlanta Business Chronicle as one of the "40-Under-40-Up-and-Comers. Monique is a contributing expert for HopeAfterDivorce.org, FamilyShare.com, CupidsPusle.com, and LAFamily.com.