“I, The Judge, hereby grant you a divorce.” And poof….you’re not married.
For most couples, a divorce was a long time coming. The day of the Final Judgment hearing could not come fast enough. Yet, for other couples, it’s a sad day. Maybe not just a day for realizing the true end of a marriage, the loss of “ever after,” but truly a day of regret. This feeling of regret can be present in both spouses or just one. But it’s enough to haunt that person for days, months and perhaps years ahead.
A spouse can be left wondering a multitude of questions:
Did I try hard enough to save my marriage?
Why didn’t we attempt marriage counseling first? Why didn’t I just say NO to the suggestion of divorce?
Maybe reconciliation is possible?
All too often, I hear past clients tell me that he/she still has constant contact with their ex-spouse. Usually, this is when the couple is now navigating the waters of co-parenting their young children together.
Family dinners continue in the marital home.
The ex-spouses attend their children’s extracurricular events together.
The communication between the ex-spouses has not ceased.
It is at that point that I get the phone call. “We’re getting along now; he gives me extra money for the kids; he comes to her soccer games” (sorry for the female perspective – typically it’s the ex-wife who calls me). Then it happens… “maybe we shouldn’t have divorced; it all happened rather fast.” And lastly, she hits me with it, “I regret the divorce, can you help me undo it?” The short answer…NO. A divorce is a divorce. Just like you can’t be semi-pregnant. You can’t be semi-divorced. It’s all or none. The Judge either signs off on your divorce petition or not. A divorce is a divorce, is a divorce….enough said.
Here’s what you can do post-divorce if you have regrets and, what I recommend to former clients:
Seek the counseling of a mental health therapist. Not because you’re crazy, but because a licensed mental health therapist can help put things into perspective for you. I’m not a therapist (although sometimes my profession lends itself that way) but I’m pretty capable of putting things into reality and here’s what I guess a therapist would say…
“There’s a reason you divorced in the first place. In short, you two were not compatible for the long haul. Maybe you two did not discuss the critical topics prior to marriage, ie. how many kids (or kids at all), financial ambitions, and religious observances. Perhaps there was infidelity, which again may have been a sign of incompatibility or inability to commit. Or just maybe, one spouse gave up. When one spouse has mentally checked out of the marriage, the marriage itself is doomed. You can attempt counseling, temporary separating and reconciliation, or any other method for solving marital problems. However, at the end of the day, there was a reason that spouse checked out. A divorce was most likely inevitable no matter what. Unfortunately, many couples wait until the marital situation is so tenuous to seek marriage counseling. At that point it is too late to salvage.”
Do the healthy, rational thing:
Regretting your divorce is not the rational and healthy way to move forward after your divorce becomes final. You can wish you had stayed together because you took those solemn vows or created a family together. But staying married to someone solely based upon those reasons is not sufficient enough to maintain a stable marriage.
Vows are broken all the time. And your children will not thank you later on in life because you remained married but hated your spouse all the while. Children are extremely intuitive little beings and they will immediately recognize the discourse between their parents.
When a person regrets a divorce, he/she may mourn the loss of the marriage or feel very sad or sorry about the divorce. It is absolutely normal to feel like you lost someone or something extremely important in your life. Because you did!
However, experiencing those feelings of regret, loss and sadness should not be interpreted as having done the wrong thing by divorcing. The reality check is this – you and your spouse (or one of you) decided to divorce for a reason. A marriage is supposed to be a continual juggling act between two parties filled with compromises, inconveniences, and disagreements. However, it is also filled with love. An intense love for one another that overrides everything else. You believe life is scarier and undesirable if you had to live it without the person whom you have committed your life to. If both parties are not on the same playing field, a marriage can not work.
Life is too short to be filled with regret. Happiness can be found post divorce. Wishing you could go back to a marriage that was not a stable one in the first place should not be your first choice. Move forward. Charge ahead. There is a new start for you out there, you just need to find it. Keep the past where it belongs…in the past.
Eric Muellerleile says
This is an utterly horrid article. The advice is garbage. People regret divorces all the time, and divorces are not inevitable as the author says. They are almost always a direct result of some real or percieved resentment or lack of communication. Many times couples committed to changing behaviors do reconcile post divorce and stay together and report being happier than they were before the divorce. New studies also suggest, contrary to what the author claims, that children do not suffer or pick up on parents “stress” in low conflict marriages that result in divorce. Simply put, there’s a reason you fell in love with someone. Get on the same page and get to work. And quit taking negative advice like this article.