I previously mentioned relationship lessons that failed me in my second marriage, yet there were items I picked up from my first divorce that helped me navigate Husband #2’s departure two years ago.
Here are the lessons I learned:
When they say they want to leave, let them.
Somehow we think we can talk our spouse out of leaving. Logic will prevail, and barring that, a little pleading will let them know how much you want them in your life. Sadly, all the talking in the world won’t change the mind of someone who’s got their sights set on the exit.
No matter how much you want to beg and plead with your spouse they have made up their mind to go. Preserve a bit of your self-worth and refrain from throwing your sobbing body across the path.
When Husband #1 decided to leave, I tried to convince him that it was the worst idea in the history of mankind. He wasn’t swayed. His driving desire was to get out as soon as possible. My begging and crying didn’t melt his indifferent heart, rather he saw a woman who was insignificant and broken.
Who wants to be in a relationship with someone like that?
So when Husband #2 decided it was time to go, I didn’t ask him to stay once.
I cried, because I was sad, but I held on to some of my dignity. I told him I’d miss him and then concentrated on my own survival. I’m not saying you have to help them pack, I’m saying don’t be needy and pitiful.
Don’t even think about a future together.
Dinner night on Thursday? Gone. Those idyllic plans you had for next summer’s vacation? Gone. Long range plans for the little farm house you’d live in during retirement? Gone. Plan no farther into the future than tonight’s spaghetti because any long range thinking will put you into a state of paralysis.
This is not the time to plan a future with THIS partner.
During Divorce #1 I believed in my heart that Husband #1 would come back. All this faulty thinking led me down a path of indecision. I failed to make vacation plans because I knew we’d need a plane ticket for him. I postponed upping my retirement savings contribution because I knew we’d be back on track soon and that meant the old plan would still be valid.
After Husband #2 packed his belongings, I laid on the couch and sobbed, part of that crying was for a dream we had that included him. Even today, I cry for that future. I know it is something requiring two people and I’m not physically enough to complete it on my own. So it goes into the heartbreak bin….
Instead, I turned my attention to more attainable (and less desirable) Plan B. Maybe Future Husband #3 will want to participate in my idea, but I’m not making it a priority anymore. Because I can’t.
After Husband #1 abandoned me and the kids, I spilled my story to anyone who would listen. I wanted others to know how badly I hurt and how much of a jerk he was. Husband #1’s façade of being such a nice guy had to come down and the truth needed to be told.
But here’s the thing, no one cared. Any platitudes shared were along the lines of how big of a loser Husband #1 was, or how I was so much better off without him. While these statements helped to fuel my suffering mentality, they also created an aura of self-righteousness.
All of my blabbing made me into a self-important victim. And once in that role, it was hard to get out.
In my current situation, only a handful of people know that Husband #2 is divorcing me. I’ve kept silent for a reason. I’m not a blameless victim and I don’t need to be the center of acquaintances’ gossip. Only my closest friends know what is happening with me and they are there for support. Any negative Husband #2 talk is discouraged. He’s human and that’s about as far as we go.
Create a budget and stick to it.
This lesson goes hand in hand with not thinking about a future together. Figure out your monthly income and expenses. Try to do it without any expected alimony and child support, because the person who’s promising to help isn’t all that reliable.
Husband #1 threatened to withdraw all support payments while we were separated. I can’t even begin to tell you how much worry he caused me with that one statement, uttered during a phone fight. If he would have followed through, I didn’t have any recourse to force him to pay.
When Husband #2 left, I was on my own without any household income. His business supported us 100% and that revenue stream was gone in the blink of an eye.
I went into disaster mode and figured out the bare minimum needed for living. Then I sold what I could, worked odd jobs, and freelanced until I found a full-time contract position in my old field of expertise.
The point I want to get across is this: You can’t count on your spouse anymore. That person is a stranger who will make and break promises like there’s no tomorrow. Your soon-to-be-ex is concerned with one thing only – their own well-being.
Figure out a way to stand on your own.