Marital bliss right? Maybe not so much? It’s a sad day when you wake up to realize your marriage is a disaster. And regardless of the “whys,” the sense of betrayal you feel when the one person who is supposed to be your “partner” turns out to be the “enemy” can leave you with some pretty intense emotions. What’s worse, you may feel all kinds of pressures to stay. Your parents may really love your partner. Your friends may think you have the “ideal” marriage. You might want to keep the family intact for the kids. You may even have religious beliefs that make you feel you’ll go to hell for getting a divorce. Or, you may just hate to let go, remembering when times were truly more blissful.
There are numerous reasons why a marriage can fail, and I’m no marriage counselor. (And, honestly, marriage counseling can sometimes make it even clearer you shouldn’t stay married!) But, having gone through divorce personally, against my “values” and after working hard to save the marriage, and striving to give my son a home that wasn’t broken, I’ve come to understand a few things I think are worth sharing.
In my case, there was no abuse, no drug or alcohol dependency, no cheating. And perhaps in that way, I was blessed. Quite simply, both my ex-wife and I had hoped we would live “happily ever after” and found that we were simply too different to allow that to happen. While the intensity of our arguments certainly got heated, while we both felt angry at each other, hurt, and let down, the reality was we simply had vastly different approaches to life that didn’t blend well together.
If you’re in an abusive relationship, I’ll be the first to tell you, get to safety immediately. There is no excuse for abuse, and domestic quarrels can very quickly become deadly. Don’t take the risk. Find resources in your area to get out of the situation as quickly as possible. Take steps to stay protected.
But if your marriage just isn’t a happy union, and you’ve done all you feel you could to reconcile to no avail, do yourself a favor and move on. The sooner you do, the sooner both of you can seek happiness elsewhere. It helps a lot to keep in mind, there is often no “good guy or girl,” no one was wrong or right. You simply have to agree to disagree. It doesn’t make you less of a person because you made a bad choice about who to spend your life with. You simply chose the wrong partner.
Letting go of blame and simply agreeing that things aren’t working out, then making fair decisions about what happens to your mutual assets, will greatly reduce an already stressful situation. If possible, go for a no-fault divorce. You’ll save money and time. It’s very tempting to drag each other into court so you can both try to crucify one another in front of a judge, but in truth, you’ll wind up making a couple of attorneys the greatest recipients of everything you’ve worked hard for during the course of your marriage. Cutting out the “middle-men” and simply dividing your assets fairly will keep both of you in a better position to move forward. And, trust me, you’ll need every dime you can save to rebuild your life.
When it comes to children, if you have any, put their needs first. The children suffer worst in a broken marriage, and it’s vital to let them know it was not their fault, and that both of you love them dearly. Don’t speak about your “adult business” with the kids, and if you do speak about one another in front of them, keep it civil, kind even if you can muster it. And unless there was abuse, don’t try to “win” the love of your kids to the exclusion of your former partner. Children need both parents to develop properly, and they deserve to have a relationship with both of you. Make it a point to share time with your kids, alternate holidays, and give them extra attention as they learn to adapt to new living conditions between two households.
And finally, if you want to make the best of your situation, think back to the initial love and attraction you had for one another, the friendship you had before you were married, and wish your former partner well in the pursuit of their happiness. I know this is easier said than done, but I’m proud to say that my ex-wife has become one of my dearest friends. She has moved on, has a new man in her life, and I’m very glad she is happy. We still communicate daily, most often about our son, but, also just talking as friends. We even go out for lunch sometimes, and help each other out when need be. And the best part of handling it this way, is that, because we have a child between us, the connection will always be there. By being friends, the interactions we have with one another are no longer stressful, I dare say we enjoy it. This makes holidays easier, keeps our son more emotionally healthy and makes life better for everyone concerned.
Divorce is not something we generally ever hope for, but, it doesn’t have to be the disastrous, traumatic experience that is all to common in our culture.