Whoever you are, whatever you’re dealing with, I want you to know that you are not alone. A lot of us have gone through this and have made it out of the madness alive, intact and happy. You will too.
Yeah, I’m not dwelling. But I remember wanting to talk to women who went through this interesting life experience and not really finding a whole lot out there on the subject. Sure, there are divorce sites, cheating hubby sites, all that flim-flam/angry chat board groupie thing. But most of those offered up the obvious stuff, and I wanted to know the subtle, little things about what to do when your husband leaves.
That’s why I wrote, What to Do Immediately When Your Husband Leaves You and then followed that up with this article. An article for those a bit further along in the process of surving being left behind.
Like when you’re pregnant, no one really tells you there’s a very good possibility that a room full of people will see you poop when you deliver. That’s not essential information, but personally, that’s good to know.
I made a shit-load of errors. I did a lot of things that I shouldn’t have, and it would have been really cool to have had someone there to give me a heads-up when I was going about it the wrong way. So here is my little list of information on how to survive the trauma of divorce.
Here’s What To Do When Your Husband Leaves You…by someone who has lived through it.
Duh, right? But remind yourself to do it, do it deeply and often. When we start to freak out we get that panic-stricken breathing thing going on, and that’s not conducive to rational thinking. Which you will definitely need to be doing at this point.
2. Put your emotional sensor into hyper-drive.
You are going to have a million things running through your mind all at once. You are going to want to negotiate, maim, give up, maim some more, accept all blame, pass the buck, yada yada yada. That’s all well and good, as long as you KEEP IT IN YOUR HEAD. Don’t say anything, write anything, text anything or email anything before you carefully, thoroughly decide if it’s appropriate. Or true. Or self-destructive.
I turned to the written word when I was left to twist in the wind. I wrote pitiful, awful letters to my wayward husband, wherein I took all the blame for everything bad that had happened in our marriage. I blamed it on wine, on the Internet, on my fat upper arms…I guess in my damaged state of mind I figured that maybe, just maybe if I took this one for the team he’d reconsider.
In hindsight, I should have ripped these up instead of handing them over. He kept them, and not only kept them but shared them with the very person who was 1/3 responsible for the demise of our marriage. And that sucks. I still have a pretty pathetic, weepy email from him, sent after he and his girlfriend (his much younger co-worker) had started shacking up, that I printed out and saved. I think it would be…interesting to see the ripple-effect that thing would have if I shared it. But that’s irrelevant right now.
Don’t let your heart hit send before your brain proofreads. This will be something that requires constant attention. And you will slip. Forgive yourself.
3. Open up your own checking account if you don’t already have one.
And an addendum to this one: close the joint one, asap. Even if you are one of the rare ones who does get that “fairy tale” ending, it’s never a bad idea to have your own bank account. If you do indeed end up divorced, it’s wise to get your name off of EVERYTHING that is joint. I am haunted, to this day, by things that we signed on to as a married couple. I’m not a lawyer nor am I a financial expert (I made myself LOL at this one) but I do think that things may have been a little bit brighter for me, financially, if I had dumped most of the co-sign things right at the start.
4. Brace yourself for the fact that if he’s left, chances are really, really good that he’s got someone else.
I denied this one until the proof was physically shoved into my face. When I think back on how desperately I tried to patch things up between my husband and I, and all the while he was slinking back to Suzy Homewrecker, I am filled with two things: anger at how stupid I was, and embarrassment. Especially when I consider the little family trips that I begged him to attend. He’d go, alright. He’d bless us with his presence. And we’d have our awkward sex again.
If I had known right from the start that he had found a secretary who did way more than order donuts for meetings and answer phones, I could have saved myself a whole lot of humiliation. And I could have started filling out my eHarmony questionnaire earlier (it takes days to complete. Months if you actually read the questions).
Anyhoo: Point is, prepare yourself for the worst. You may have already been replaced. Which leads me to my next What To Do (that is actually a what not to do)…
5. When you do find out he’s been screwing around, don’t obsess about her/him/it/them (the “other”). IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER.
Keep repeating this one, over and over until it’s burned into your cerebrum. I wasted non-refundable hours of my life wondering who this person was, what she looked like, what her story was, was she hot, was she young or old, did she have kids, what did she have that I didn’t??? Waste of time. Because, honestly, who cares a whit about her? All you need to know is that, in the long run, she has done you a favor. As poor betrayed Addison on Grey’s Anatomy once said, “I don’t want someone who doesn’t want me.” Why would you? Life is short. Don’t waste a precious second of it giving them another thought.
Of course, if kids are involved, you do need to know that they are safe when not in your care. I wasn’t thrilled to learn that the person who was now playing Mommy with my kids 4 days a month was a recently divorced smoker and likes her drinkies, but as far as I know I don’t have to worry about their safety (although the head shaving incident was spooky).
In my situation, once I did finally see this person face to face, I felt oddly let down. She wasn’t a stunner. She isn’t ugly, but she wasn’t the Jessica Rabbit I had pictured in my mind. As one of my friend’s husbands said, “She kind of looks like she was rode hard, and put away wet.” So all of that going ape-shit with curiosity was for naught. It was like waiting for some ominous test results (like the HIV test I took, literally the day after I found out about Secretary) and then finding out it’s nothing. Quite literally, nothing.
6. Heard about the Divorce Diet?
It’s real. Take advantage of it if you’re chubby. If you are a foodie, like me, this may very well be the one and only time in your life when you truly cannot eat. But you have to, so make sure you don’t starve. This was the time in my life when I really used my gym membership to its full capacity. There is no therapy in the world that can beat ears full of high-volume kick ass music and a treadmill. You forget your woes for an hour or so, and all those endorphins will, at the very least, keep you from crying on the way home from the club.
Trust me, though, the Divorce Diet isn’t known for its longevity. After a while, life settles down and you start to feel human again, and your past comforts will do what they have always done best: comfort you. If you are smart, you will keep that gym membership or at the very least, do some sort of exercise several times a week. It will keep all of those feel-good hormones chugging through your system which can help out in many, many areas of day to day life. Like when you realize one of the other things that no one tells you….
7. Have some sex.
Sex after divorce is awesome. Really. When you have it, that is. Gone is the baggage that you and your now-former husband kept in the bedroom. There are no more feelings of guilt for not wanting it. When you’re single again, trust me. You want it. There is none of the pretending to be asleep when you feel that hand under the covers, or when you are 100% sure that’s not the remote you feel poking you in the back. With single sex, you most likely have a very limited window of time to do the deed, in addition to the dinner/movie/Segway tour that leads to the nookie (yes I said Segway tour. God Help Me. That was the craigslist victim. We’ll get to him soon).
You get to feel that rush of taking a big naughty leap again, and the rush is fun. And even if the sex is less than awesome, you get the freedom of NOT HAVING TO DO IT AGAIN. And again and again for 12 mind-numbing years…oops. Got off track. It’s kind of a sick thrill to get ready for a date and wonder what Bachelor #3 has in his bag of tricks. There really are other fish in the sea…some wonderful, fun fish who are not total assholes.
What I’m saying is this: There is good everywhere, even among the wreckage of a marriage that has gone off the tracks. Life will be completely different for you now, but when you think about it, maybe that isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes even something as devastating as being left behind can be a gift.
How to Move on When Your Husband Leaves You
Life will be different and, in time, you’ll adjust to that difference and learn that plan B is as good as Plan A was. There are 5 steps to moving on after a divorce you didn’t want.
- Choose happiness
- Allow yourself to mourn
- Accept that your marriage is over
- Let empathy be your guiding emotion
- Stay open to possibilities
Happiness really is a choice. You may not be happy that your husband left you BUT, that isn’t all there is to your life. You have the option of choosing to focus on the pain caused by his leaving or, focus on the areas of your life that bring you happiness. You will be better served if you don’t allow what has happened to you to detract from the other wonderful things in life.
Do some research on grief. Grieving the end of your marriage will be a process. Arm yourself with knowledge and allow yourself to flow freely through each step of the grieving process.
Acceptance is key to your ability to move on when your husband leaves you. You can’t control his decision, you can’t control whether or not your marriage will be restored. Fighting against the reality of him being gone, keeps you stuck in a painful place of wishing and hoping instead of moving you to a place of looking forward to what life has to offer. Accept that it’s over! You accepting that your marriage is ending won’t keep him from coming home again if he decides that’s what he wants. Acceptance allows you to focus on you and your life!
He has left, torn your world upside down and shattered your heart. Most people respond to such actions by other people with anger. Anger turns to resentment and resentment turns into bitterness. You have a choice, you can attempt to understand why he has left, empathize with the choice he has made and move on with a lighter heart.
If he left for another woman, empathize with both of them because relationships built on the foundation of fidelity are a recipe for disaster. If he left because of an emotional crisis, empathize with him because he is in a fragile place and is allowing it to destroy his marriage. You’ll be better for it!
Staying open to possibilities, in a nutshell, this means that, in most cases, divorce is an opportunity. You don’t want to miss the opportunities that come with divorce by closing yourself off to possibilities. This could mean a new man and a better relationship. It could mean a new job in a new city. It could mean learning the fulfillment of taking care of yourself financially after years of being dependent on him. Don’t overlook the good that will come your way because all you can focus on is the pain you’re in.