Divorce Lessons: 3 Things You Should Know
Let’s not mince words: Divorce sucks. It doesn’t matter if you leave on good terms or if you go kicking and screaming through the courts; it just plain sucks. But as with most things in life that suck, there is a lot that can be learned from it. Thankfully, you don’t necessarily have to go through it yourself to learn these divorce lessons!
I got divorced in 2015 after three years of marriage. I won’t say that it was a mistake, or even that I regret getting married. Frankly, I have many fond memories of my relationship with my ex-wife; and I do not intend on poisoning them with blame, hatred, or resentment. As I reflect on this season of my life, there are a few thoughts that come to mind about how to navigate divorce without losing yourself in the process.
Don’t Wait to Get Help
This first tip and one of the top divorce lessons is for the couples that have reached what they believe is the end of their marriage. Often, couples will wait to meet with a counselor until they’ve already started shopping for a lawyer. By the time they sit down with a professional, the hurt in the relationship is boiling over and one or both partners may feel like it’s just a stop on the way to the courthouse.
The problem here is that it’s like taking a totaled car to a body shop and asking them to buff it out. The damage is so extreme that it may take months or even years of work to repair, and it still may not drive the same when you’re done. There is no such thing as too late to repair a relationship, but it’s much easier to repair a small crack than a shattered window!
Make the Choice You Can Live With
Any time you’re faced with a decision, it’s important to take the time to think about what it is that you are doing. When dealing with undoing a marriage, there are no “take-backs,” so make sure that any decision you make is one that you can live with.
When my wife decided to leave, I made the decision that I wanted it to be an easy break. I tried to take on as much of the financial burden as I could, and I cut off contact with her family. I chose to post once on social media that our relationship was over in a very measured and diplomatic way, and I chose to let her go without a fight.
For a while, I felt a sense of guilt about “letting my wife walk out on me,” but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was better for both of us to be apart. I made a choice that I could live with.
There is a very good chance that your divorce is more complicated than mine was. We had no children, no real assets to speak of, neither of us was financially dependent on the other, and there was no violence in the relationship. If there were, it doesn’t change the fact that any decision involved with ending or not ending a marriage needs to be one that you can live with and perhaps the most important of our divorce lessons to learn.
Rise Above Your Divorce
When I first got divorced, I had a huge knot of shame in my identity. I had just graduated with a Master’s Degree in Counseling with a specialization in couples therapy; how would anyone take me seriously if I couldn’t keep my own marriage going?
I would often use this as a means of holding myself back from being the person I am capable of being. Over time, I parsed out many lessons from the collapse of my first marriage; and I believe that when the time comes, my second will be my last!
There is no such thing as a “last chance” in life. As long as you are willing to see your divorce for what it is and learn these divorce lessons: admitting that the marriage you had didn’t work, nothing more; then you can set it down and move onto the better things that await you in the future!
Joey Mowery writes about relationships and makes bad jokes about video games at The Couch Co-Op Relationship Blog at www.joeymowery.com