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When my husband left and ran off with a lady from his office, all of my friends and family bombarded me with one massive conclusion: Divorce him! You deserve better!

Back then, I agreed. “Yes! I deserve way better than this!”

And like a fast-moving train locked in place, my deserving something better became the fuel to cut him off. Then, as time wore on, I began to wonder, what exactly did I “deserve”? In the dictionary, “deserve” means “to have earned or to be given something because of the way you have behaved or the qualities you have.”

Am I to believe I deserve something every time I earn, behave, or achieve? If so, who or what is this governing authority or deserve police deciding or handing out these things we think we deserve?

Like if we run a marathon, we can say, “I ran the marathon and won! I deserved that top medal!” Because there were judges and eyewitnesses who all agreed who won and deserved a medal. If there were any disagreement that someone did not win, there would be a team of people who would make that final decision.

Yet in life, who is the ruler or witness to give us that which we think we deserve or don’t deserve? Who decides this fact that we did some task or job well enough that we now deserve something?

RELATED: His Affair and Our Divorce Still Make Me Cry

When I got married and signed up to be with my husband, it was a forever deal. If anything went right or wrong, was there a “deserving”? Did I deserve to get something? And in the case of my husband, causing pain and trauma to those he really cared about, did my husband not deserve something else? Especially as he declared, “I provided massively for our family for 20 years and now that the kids are older, I’m done. It’s time for me. I deserve to leave and start a new life on my own with someone new.”

Gulp . . . okay . . .  really?

Is that how life and this “deserving” thing works? After building a kingdom for 20 years together, can my husband decide he deserves a different life, a betterment for himself, and leave the family?

It took many years to understand this messy concept and today I can confidently say: Yes. He can. My husband has every right to decide he deserves something else and pick up and walk out on his family. I can actually hear your jaw hit the floor. Stay with me.

Here in this world, in this life, we have all been given free will, and if that free will moves us to believe we deserve something or takes us in another direction, then yes, as hard as it may be in the moment, we let go. Like it or not, all of us, on our own, get to decide and control how we live, what we deserve, what we believe, and what is right for us in our own lives.

This epiphany came to me four months after my husband left. Driving up a street called “Meadows” near my home, I was doing what I did daily: crying. In fact, I was so sad, tears would stream from my eyes and down my cheeks in the middle of conversations with random people talking about nothing important. On this day, as tears flowed down my face, I remember the sun shining on my skin, as I heard a male voice calmly say, “Give him to me . . .”

Funny how when strange male voices randomly talk in our heads, we don’t freak, we hear and understand. I understood. My husband and his “what I deserve” was not my problem. There were bigger things at play and all of them had nothing to do with me.

On that day, I let go and let God. Because life is about letting go of things that have nothing to do with us. Even if that thing is a man who made a promise to be with you forever. All of us are on our own journeys, and what our partner does or doesn’t do on their journey is not our problem.

I chose to stop listening to others who kept trying to tell me what I deserved and focused instead on what I could control: myself.

RELATED: The Surprising Way Back to Trust After an Affair

It took time, practice, and lots of patience to turn the spotlight away from him and what I didn’t have, onto myself and all I did have. Feeling grateful and seeing so much good opened a new door where the need to take, have, and deserve can’t survive.

I stopped talking about my own troubles and instead spent more time listening and learning about others and the problems they faced in their lives. The more I listened, the more others opened up and shared, giving me insight that my own life was not really that bad.

I gave my time, I gave my love, and saw casual friendships and family connections blossom and grow deep, strong, secure roots that fed true unconditional love directly into my soul.

And my husband? That guy who “deserved to leave our family and start a new life alone with someone new”? After 18 months of searching, he finally found that someone new: me.

Turns out when you are so busy creating your own happy life, staying grateful, and being exactly the type of person you want in your own life, you understand. And that “deserve” thing? It won’t even matter.

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Laurie McDermott

Laurie McDermott is The Wife Expert, Marriage & Family advocate, teacher, author, and mom of 3, 4 if you count her hubby. Find her at TheWifeExpert.com, https://www.youtube.com/@TheWifeExpert.

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