Second guessing is one of the best friends of divorce. Divorce is a major decision, so it seems only natural to have a little “buyer’s remorse” or sweat a little at night wondering if this is what you really wanted!
I get it! I’m reminded of many moons ago when my ex and I went furniture shopping with tax refund money. We decided to buy a new chair for the living room, and when we placed the order we chose a blue color from the collection of swatches.
Overnight, my doubt grew and grew as I scrutinized the other pieces in our living room, and I found myself calling the store first thing in the morning to change my selection to green. Good thing my furniture shopping uncertainty wasn’t foiled by a judge’s ruling in court, uprooting and turning my life upside down, and thousands of dollars spent on a lawyer- it was just a silly chair (that neither of us even has anymore!)!
My point here is that if we experience hindsight agony over what we ordered for lunch or wishing we chose the red dress instead of the black one, is there anything wrong or weird- about second-guessing a monumentally bigger decision like ending a marriage?
In a funny way, this process may have started many years sooner with buyer’s regret about marrying in the first place! I’ll be brave and raise my hand to admit that a few years (maybe sooner) into my marriage I wondered to myself why I tied the knot with him? What was I thinking? What made me think we were a good fit and that this would work? Why didn’t I take my time to be really, really sure first? But, by the time I entertained these little nagging thoughts, I already felt that the boat on these doubts had long since sailed, and I was responsible to carry out my marriage promise.
I can be honest in saying that I don’t lay awake at night regretting that I divorced him. I have regretted the fact that I had to divorce because that’s something I never wanted. I have also regretted the position I put myself and my children in now that we have to live away from each other 50% of the time. That right there is my biggest regret.
I sympathize with anyone else, though, who struggles regret getting divorced, so here are some questions I would ask to help you rectify your fears with your decision:
- Do you have more peace in your life without your ex?
- What did you hope to achieve with your divorce, and what does your life look like compared to that vision?
- Do you feel like you are a better version of yourself at present compared to during your marriage?
- Do you see more stability in your life?
- Do you feel more hopeful about your future?
- If there are things you miss from your marriage (e.g. companionship, sex, financial stability, the comfort of routine), are you able to replace those needs yourself or from other sources?
- If you are feeling nostalgic for the “good times”, be real with yourself and ask if the good really outweighed the bad?
- Your life doesn’t have to be perfect. Hey, it’s a work in progress, one-day-at-a-time! If there is something lacking from where you hoped your life would be right now, what is it, and what will it take to get it on the right track?
- If your remorse is not so much that you’re unsure about going through with a divorce as much as it is about never wanting it in the first place, it will certainly be harder to see the bright and sunny side of your situation. My question to you, then, is given that you were handed a really bitter pill to swallow, what can you do now to upcycle this pile of garbage into something amazing? Can you at least say that you’re wiser, stronger, and more capable?
- Can you honestly say that you still love him or would want him back? It’s okay if you don’t flat out hate him. You shared life and many memories with your ex, and possibly even children. You may still have some feelings of esteem because he’s the father of your children, or because of the nature of your divorce (perhaps you grew apart and split on amicable terms). There’s a difference between not wanting another person to die a horrible death and wanting them back as your partner!
- Do you really think you could have made the marriage work- honestly? Okay, even if in your heart of hearts you think it could have been salvaged, what difference would it make now? Would he agree with you, or even care, and is that something you truly want to re-visit? This might be a good time to own the mistakes you made that contributed to the divorce and to reflect on how you can improve yourself- especially before becoming involved in another relationship. Otherwise, this might also be the time to acknowledge the reality of the situation.
- Do you tend to experience more remorse at key times like anniversaries, holidays, and other times because the memories are so intense, and perhaps because you feel lonelier at these times? Just remember that sometimes the passing of time has the ability to soften the edges on our recall of how things really were and it’s possible to romanticize something that wasn’t that great, So, be honest with yourself about what it is you’re remembering in the context of the big picture.
Don’t feel bad about yourself or think that the fact that you reflect on your past marriage is a negative trait. In fact, I would argue that this is a sign of an intelligent and sensitive soul who finds value in taking stock of where she’s been in life. Just do yourself a favor and don’t get trapped in doubt, remorse, or the past. What you have now is a whole future ahead of you, and you are the author of your destiny. Take the lessons with you that you learned from your divorce, both good and bad, and do something incredible with them!