I guess I had a few viewpoints about divorce, unhappily married people, infidelity, and so on before I divorced, but for the life of me, I can't remember what they were. Since making the decision to end my multi-decade marriage, I've had a 24/7 education.
I've taken a hard look at the whole question of marriage: the beginning, the middle, and in over 50 percent of cases, the end. Divorce is awful, and so much of it cannot be understood entirely unless you experience it firsthand. In my experience, while there are some great resources to better navigate marriage issues, including the divorce process, there is also some crap touted as good advice.
Divorce happens for many reasons, and the reaction, as well as the pro-action to move forward, (you'll hear that term move forward more than what is humanly possible by the way), is directly connected to a number of factors. Whatever the situation, it is complex and people feel what they feel.
The most shocking thing I experienced was in spite of being the one to pull the plug on my marriage, I was the only one between my ex and I that felt any level of pain, sadness, and regret. He simply continued onward with the various women he'd been sneaking around with as though nothing had happened, other than there was one less female to lie to.
While there are some smart rules and practical advice to follow when divorcing, don't believe everything you read online. After an exhaustive amount of time researching how to feel better and deal with the divorce process, these are the stupidest ideas I've seen too many times online:
1. You have to forgive and wish them well to move on.
I actually wish my ex nothing; that's how I moved on. I find the idea of being constantly told to take the high road an admonishment, like being told to be a good little girl, yet there's a plethora of advice about accepting the apology you'll never receive to be able to heal.
For me, forgiving myself for denying what was apparent for a long time, for not respecting myself, was the most important forgiveness moving forward. He didn't have a positive role in our marriage and does not have one post-divorce.
2. Infidelity can make a marriage stronger.
For those with the argument to not end a marriage because of infidelity, I contend it's an unsupportable view. There is a good deal more evidence that once a cheater, always a cheater and staying in spite of learning of their spouse's deception, extends the emotional damage. Infidelity weakens a relationship to it's core. It diminishes the cheated-on to being someone who deserves less in a relationship, while the other person gets more.
3. Giving up spousal support will give you self-respect.
Spousal support is difficult to attain except for brief periods and/or in longer marriages when the spouse devoted a high percentage of themselves to the family and cannot recover financially due to age, skill levels, etc. If you qualify, financial support is an investment for the future you deserve. As far as I can tell, this is some veiled attempt to mostly manipulate women.
Opting out of my career for a decade to take care of my family, due to my ex's constant job changes and relocating all over the country, put me in a highly disadvantageous position as a divorced 55 year-old. While I had no intention of not working, along with the divorce, attaining gainful employment in the last two years has added significantly to this difficult journey. Not so funny is that I'm looking at retirement at about 90.
4. Be nice to the "other woman" for the sake of the kids.
There is no reason to communicate with that person what-so-ever. If your children are under age, you should communicate with the parent of your children in whatever matter is decided on by the two of you or the courts. Minimizing contact with the person who wasn't concerned with or respected your family while engaging in a relationship with your spouse is perfectly fine. If you feel like you can be civil to the other woman/man that's fine too, but this idea you are less of a person for not being congenial with him/her is hogwash.
I'm fortunate in that I have grown children who have their independent opinions, separate from me. I don't make it a habit to discuss my ex with my children and have asked they not discuss me with him. Both of my children laughed at the idea they would ever consent to being in a room with their Dad's cheating partners, as one stated, "I give as much respect as shown my family, which is none."
I never expect to be in the same room with any woman who told my ex to "cut his family loose" because she was uncomfortable sharing him with his children/family.
My friends who have under-age children in the same situation have a difficult balancing act in keeping their dealings with their ex's at a minimum and fending off input from their spouse's new partner(s). Their goal is always minimizing the pain the children are experiencing with the major change in their lives. I would never bring young children into an adult situation of any kind, but again, the cheating partner shouldn't get vote in the children's lives; their influence has already created enough turmoil.
5. Cheating is okay if you're in an emotionally vacant, sexless marriage.
If you are in an unhappy marriage, leave the marriage honestly. No one deserves to be disrespected, hurt, embarrassed, humiliated, especially someone you created a family with. If it cannot be fixed, do not convince yourself that you should stay for whatever reason and then justify that it's okay to deceive your partner.
6. Take ownership for your part why your spouse was unhappy in the marriage.
Communication is all things in a marriage. If you attempt honest communication in your marriage, yet your spouse refuses to engage, their unhappiness is their issue. By no means are people perfect, but a joint effort is necessary in a relationship. One person cannot hold up a marriage alone; each have their own responsibility to contribute.
My husband cheated during our entire marriage, from the day we got married; the week after; when I was pregnant; skinny; fat; seemingly deliriously happy; completely emotionally supportive of him. The point being it did not matter, it wasn't about me and I cannot take ownership.
I do take complete responsibility for being an outstanding co-dependent, diminishing myself in far too many ways to count, and staying too long in a situation that hurt my children and me.
A tremendous amount of introspection over the last year has provided me, in my specific situation, with some clarity. I listened to my ex instead of listening to myself, but now, I listen to myself and only to myself. If it sounds stupid, smells wrong, seems like a bad idea, or hurts, it is unacceptable in my life. The best advice in the process of divorce is to take care of yourself and do what you feel is right for you and your children.