Let’s skip all the post-divorce mumbo jumbo and go back to the root of the problem. Are you still married and possibly thinking of divorce? Are you in the middle of a divorce and wondering if you made the right decision? Have you just gotten divorced and rethinking things?
Well, I don’t have a magic answer… sorry! I can’t do everything for you! Sheesh! But maybe I can give you some things to think about. See, unfortunately… or fortunately only you know the answer to the “divorce or no divorce” question. However I do emphatically suggest leaving if there is abuse of any kind involved.
Here’s what happened to me… it took me about a year before I made the final decision to get out of the marriage. And it took a lot, he was verbally abusive throughout the whole marriage, then he had an affair the whole time I was pregnant with our third child, and then he became a serious alcoholic. Throughout the marriage he was an amateur alcoholic, by the end he was being drafted into the big leagues and would soon be a pro.
Yup, that was me and my Dad in 1991
It was a two part process, one was wondering if it was the right thing, and two was if and how I could manage being alone with three small children. The first part became apparent as his behavior became more cruel and unpredictable with me. I decided it was best for the safety of myself and the children to leave. And I truly got a gift from God on the second part as he was put on a temporary 3 month assignment for work in Tulsa, OK while we were living in NY. At first it seemed daunting but then it was basically a trial to see if I could live without my husband. I could.
However there was one last final issue before I could pull the trigger. (metaphorically speaking, I wasn’t going to off my husband) The guilt. Yes, I am Catholic and my parents were married for 64 years before my Dad passed away. I am the youngest of 6, only one sibling was divorced because the spouse took off, all others have been married for dozens of years or widowed. To me it was forever. So I went to see my priest. Believe it or not, my priest was the one who convinced me to end it. He asked me, “Does the abuse that he doles out feel like it kills part of your soul?” “Yes! Yes!”, I exclaimed emphatically. “There’s your ’til death do us part'”, he said. Whoa. It was completely cut and dry to me then. Thanks Father Larry.
But you may be struggling with something different. There may not be abuse. You may just not be in love anymore, or there is infidelity, or too much fighting or lying or something. Maybe you have just become friends and there is no sexual intimacy whatsoever anymore. You need to really think these things out. Can I live with this? Am I miserable? Am I continually hurting this person? Are they continually hurting me? You have to take it question by question and the answer will reveal itself. And talking to a third party such as a therapist or spiritual adviser is wise. Friends and family don’t always make the best advisers as they see things subjectively. Get an objective view.
However, if you are continuing to hurt each other, and it can be as simple as not giving the other what they need like affection, sex, trust or fidelity you either need to fix it or get out. Continuing to make each other miserable is toxic. And staying together for the kids is NOT the answer because the toxicity oozes over into the kids. Trust me. They see, they know, they learn your behaviors. My kids were far happier after we separated. Yes, they were upset at first about the prospect of having two different homes but then things were much more pleasant in each home after the fact. And don’t be selfish just because you enjoy being there with your kids everyday doesn’t mean it’s what’s best for the kids. If you and your spouse are always fighting or annoyed with each other or walking on egg shells it’s a really harmful situation for the kids.
I truly believe in the trial separation. Time apart may help heal old wounds and give the opportunity to start fresh. Or it may help you ease into the living apart thing by thinking it’s only a trial run and you soon find out you can do it.
The thing I don’t recommend is status quo. Don’t just wait it out or see what happens or think “This too shall pass”. It doesn’t. Either fix it or get out. I mean, make a serious attempt to fix it. Don’t just say ok I’ll be better or I’ll stop the bad behavior. Figure out why you keep doing these things and make a change. If not, do everybody a favor and end it. I can’t believe I’m saying this because I do believe marriage is a one time shot (that’s why I’m never getting married again) but my views are changing. Society moves too fast now for us to expect that two people will be absolutely in sync forever and ever. But as I said, only you know the answer.
P.S. Don’t let anybody make you feel bad about your decision either. If he cheats and you decide to stay, that was your decision. You have to do what you have to do. Only you know what’s best. And if you don’t, you can always change it later. 🙂