Saturday, July 20th, 2024

B Book Excerpts by Jean Loxley-Barnard
The Hope Trap -- The Honeymoon of the Divorce


The following is an excerpt from The Hope Trap, Jean Loxley-Barnard's forthcoming book.

Once in separate bedrooms, Rob and I began to communicate through notes. Simple information. It was awkward but functional.

The written messages resumed after Rob was no longer living in the house. Perfunctory at first, becoming more civil over time, then something changed.

The little messages gradually became warmer â€" "Have a nice day" type comments. Then more personal messages. "I miss our walks around the yard on Sundays," recalled a habit we had enjoyed for a long time. Rob's midwestern farm heritage had translated into planting trees and flowers around our home. A stroll around the house together to enjoy the beauty had been a pleasant habit.

The notes evolved into letters,
growing into extensive outpourings
of positive emotions and memories.

Reviving our Sunday tour was healing for both of us as we focused on the beauty of the landscaping Rob was fond of saying he had, "created" for me. As I enjoyed smelling the lilacs that reminded me of my childhood in New England, I was mindful to credit Rob for his work and thoughtfulness. He could not hear enough of the sincere praise.

The notes evolved into letters, growing into extensive outpourings of positive emotions and memories. Writing about "Never Again," Rob expressed pain about the loss we were both feeling.

"We need to focus on "Never Before,'" I offered. Being better friends, that kind of focus. We agreed and embraced the philosophical value of Never Before.

His letters appeared daily, sometimes twice a day. Rob would leave a letter at the back door; I came to have one waiting there for him. We each poured out our feelings in a positive light.

What was happening, I wondered? I came across a concept that I had never heard before.

"The Honeymoon of the Divorce." It resonated.

The Honeymoon Ends

The loving letters had been intense enough for both of us to allow good memories to be resurrected and shared. It had been healing, believing that perhaps the worst was over. I wanted, and certainly Rob wanted, to escape the most painful consequences of a traumatic divorce. In some ways, neither of us were ready to move on. In other ways, each of us knew it was time â€" past time.

Certainly there had been joy in our lives, hope for the future, pride in our children, laughter, hugs, vacations.

There had also been betrayals. With the first event, I had experienced a world I had never known. The first shock was devastating, after which I had become convinced it was an isolated event.

For most of our years together, I could believe we were happy. Every few years, however, usually coinciding with a really happy fall, something changed. By Christmas, I would be convinced Rob was having another affair. I'd finally get up the courage to confront him. His handful of affairs had a similar pattern, but it took a few for me to recognize it. 

Rob had always been a master of compassion as he professed to understand my feelings. His bottom line, however, had always been to proclaim his innocence. I so wanted to believe him â€" again and again.

For my January birthdays, I'd have the smoking gun. Again and again.

I had often confided to those closest to me that marriage to Rob existed in two different universes â€" Disney World and Hell. The letters had called upon the Disney World universe. They stopped.