Some Good Decisions Before, During, and After My Divorce
There were a number of things I did wrong in my divorce, from taking on 65 percent of the debt load to not asking for any form of support. However, it turns out there were a number of things I did that turned out right. Hindsight really is 20-20, and perhaps my clearer perspective today can bring you comfort in the decisions you make tomorrow.
What I Did Right Before Leaving
- I waited until I could finally look at him and think, “I’d rather die alone than live with you for the rest of my life.” I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way; I didn’t hate him, I just finally didn’t want him anymore. After leaving, I beat myself up for waiting so long. But now I know, if I had left before that, I would have always wondered if I’d made the right choice. Today, I have zero regrets.
- I practiced living without him. About eight months before I left him, I got a job as a flight attendant. Now, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this for everyone; it’s not nearly as glamorous as it is in the movies. However, what it did was help me understand that I was perfectly fine being alone. I was staying in hotels by myself in strange cities three to five nights a week, and I was okay. In the end, the experience made leaving him a whole lot less scary.
During my Divorce
- I kept everything as emotion-free as possible. While love and hate are opposites of each other, they’re still just flip sides of the same coin. When you let go of those emotions, it’s so much easier to part with the things you must and keep what’s necessary. During the divorce process, many people get hung up on material things, when what’s actually important is that you (or you and your kids) are financially okay.
- I left while I held the power in the relationship. In 1938, Willard Waller, a sociologist, invented the term “The principle of least interest.” Throughout my marriage, there was always an imbalance. Basically, throughout most of the time I lived with him, I had no power to change the situation, as I was more emotionally invested in him than he was in me. Once I left, he thought I would change my mind and come back, as I had so many times before. But, because my mind was in a powerful place, I never once thought about returning.
After It Was Done
- I dated a guy with the same problem. Okay so this may not sound like a good idea. But, the first man I dated after I left my ex-husband turned out to have exactly the same issue—complete and utter emotional availability. However, I recognized the issue a whole lot faster (after two dates) and was able to break it off, long before it got very serious and with very little pain on either side. It helped me realize I could trust my instincts again—because the chances of that becoming a long-term relationship were way below zero.
- I was myself first, last, and always: No matter the circumstances, the end of a marriage feels like a personal failure. I blamed part of that on trying to be what someone else thought I should be for many years. This made me utterly determined that, if there were another relationship, I would not make the mistake of trying to change myself for them. I’ve been married for quite some time to my second husband, and there were no surprises for either of us after marriage, as he’s on his second marriage too. When you both make the other laugh, and continue to be intrigued and in love, those power scales balance quite nicely.
The hardest part about all of it—before, during, and after—was that I felt really alone and unsupported through most of the divorce, the adjustment afterward, and the dating process. Just bringing myself to the point of leaving took a couple years. There was so much advice I needed as I worked through it on my own, yet no one to turn to in a strange town, in a new job. The online and personal support provided by Untangle The Knot would have helped a lot!
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