Moving on with life after divorce can be a real struggle. Even where marriages have been oppressive, controlling and abusive, adjusting to a new way of living without those aspects can feel strange at times.
I had only been married for 3 years when I decided to leave my husband. We had been together for 11 years and I always feel the need to justify that to show that I wasn’t merely a fickle bride and also because my ex-husband is a good man and the time we spent together will always be important to me. I still consider my ex-husband to be a friend and there was no third party or shock announcements in the ending of our marriage so the separation part was relatively amicable. But even in that situation, there were moments of real anger (on both parts) and raw emotion. At the heart of it all though, were our two boys and today I want to share a few of my personal views (free from judgment on people who view divorce differently) on life after divorce.
Personally, I hate this idea. I never got married to get divorced and even though the divorce was my choice it still upset me to see the decree absolute in black and white. I do understand that many marriages that end in divorce, do so after periods of incredible unhappiness, abuse, etc and that being free from the legalities that bind you to someone you detest can be a huge relief but for me, I would rather just move on rather than draw attention to the occasion.
Access to the children
I massively disagree with parents using their children as pawns in their game of control. It took two parents to create a child and as long as those parents are both good, loving people whose children enjoy time with, I firmly believe that the children should see each parent as much as possible (if they are arseholes that’s different). I don’t think it’s fair that one parent should have to ‘beg’ or negotiate to see their own children as standard and I think the best interests of the child should be the main priority at all times. The main losers in any custody battle are the children. Every time.
Opinions of the other parent
My biological father had no idea how to be a husband or a father and was terrible at both. Without going into too much detail, he wasn’t always the sort of person you would want to leave your children with but as our dad, my brother and I would go with him whenever he decided to turn up. I know that my mum cried constantly until we were home. I know that she knew about the multiple women he introduced us to and the pretty awful pubs he would stick us in the corner of for hours on end. I know now of some truly awful things that he did but never, not once, did my Mum ever bad mouth him to us. She didn’t need to and here is the truth. Whatever kind of person that parent is, the children see it in time. Whether it’s about timekeeping, empty promises, bad tempers or just general inadequacies in adulting, the children who offer their love so unconditionally always learn the value of love. Sometimes yes, it’s hard but it’s not something that you can prevent and hopefully, it will be an example of the parent not to be. Slating the other parent and trying to influence the thoughts and feelings of the children only look bad on the parent doing the convincing. I have seen it happen and it’s not pleasant for anyone. Often, it actually pushes children closer to the other parent as they feel that they need to defend them. Even at the height of what was for a while, quite a vicious dispute with my ex, I never expressed my feelings to or in front of the children. They always loved their Dad regardless of how I felt.
Ugh, this is where divorce can get really ugly. Who deserves what is such a delicate subject that I would never comment on peoples situations but what I would say is that I have had money and been miserable and I have struggled financially but been happy in myself and money is not a magic wand. It is, however, an essential part of starting again and particularly where divorce is not one partner’s choice, I feel they deserve to be compensated for the life they are losing and continue to live the standard of living that they had previously. I don’t think either party should be left financially destitute after divorce yet this is often the hardest issue to resolve.
Finding the lessons
With divorce often comes a lot of reflection and soul searching; Where did it go wrong? Why? Could I have done anything differently? Why now? I know of one lady whose husband left for work one day and never set foot back in the house again while she was in it. That was incredibly hard for her to deal with but in time, she saw the problems that had existed in their marriage and now has a much more fulfilling relationship than her marriage ever had been because she now knows the sort of partner she wants and wants to be. Equally, one of the lessons in the break down in my own marriage was that we didn’t talk enough. Not the proper conversations that were needed. Now, my fiance and I talk about everything, both of us determined not to let that happen again. Yes, divorce is painful and ugly but there will be lessons within that experience that will free and enlighten you like nothing else. You just have to find them.
Not being afraid to start again
Depending on how long you have been in the relationship it can be quite daunting to start again on your own. To do the things that YOU like and not have to think about the needs and interests of someone else. That part is quite liberating. The dating scene is not! I was single for 18 months after my divorce before a blind date that I went on purely to silence a friend turned into my next marriage! I had dated someone else briefly but on hindsight, I wanted too much too soon and while we are still friends it was never destined to be any more than that. Yes, starting again is as scary as hell but it also has its highlights. All of the firsts…first kiss, the first meal out, first time of bumping uglies in the bedroom! Life is an adventure and if you treat divorce as an ending you will lose so much more of your own story.
Knowing that you ARE enough
Divorce, whether it’s overdue or a total surprise can leave us all feeling a little bit jaded. Regardless of the circumstances we often find ourselves questioning life, ourselves and wondering where the future will take us. I think its important at this time to remember all the qualities that we know are our strengths, the things that our best friends and family love us for and it’s essential at times of self-doubt that we remember that we ARE enough whatever the future may hold.
It’s natural to feel a whole range of emotions after a marriage has broken down. If there are only two parties involved, each can move on with their lives. Where there are children involved I have always felt that regardless of whether you are the instigator or recipient of divorce, it’s important to remember that its an opportunity to show our children how to deal with life’s challenges and to model the kind of person you want them to be in the face of adversity.
I hope that when my boys look back on their childhood, as sad as they are that their parents raised them apart, they know that they were our priority and that despite our differences, we always put them first. (Behind cheese and gin in my case but other than that, top of the list 😉
If you enjoyed this blog you may also like to read ‘To my boys, 9 things I want you to know about love‘