December 31, 2019

When Divorce is the Kindest Option.

I didn’t go into my marriage thinking I’d get divorced.

Let’s be real—none of us really do.

When we say yes, we believe we’re signing up for a lifetime of happiness, “until death do us part.”

The reality is that our needs change, as do our partner’s.

We come to a crossroad where we must decide if our previous commitments are still going to serve us moving forward.

And here I am, not even a year later, papers signed, and still dealing with the shock, grief, and trauma that began when I decided to end things.  

When I was considering divorce years prior, I’d been unhappy for quite some time, but denial of how things should be kept me tightly hanging on, feeling like I could make things work out. Still, it got to a point where I needed to make a change, for me.

I was raised Catholic, and my parents stayed together to the point of my dad’s death, so my internal story was that if my marriage ended, I had failed. No one specifically said this, but what I’d seen and heard in my formative years developed into my beliefs and perceptions later on in life.

Since I was the initiator of the divorce, I fell into a spiral of deeply rooted shame and guilt. 

“Why didn’t I stop the wedding when I had doubts early on?”

“Why did I stick around when I was unhappy for so long?”

“Do I suck at relationships?”

“Am I a bad person?”

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

What if there was a more loving way to view divorce, without all of the self-sabotaging thoughts?

I confided in my life coach, who I knew had been through her own divorce, and she presented me with a powerful question that freed me from the endless spiral of negativity.

She asked, “What if you stopped thinking about divorce as a failure and instead saw it as the kindest, most loving thing you can do for your husband?”

A pin could have dropped in the loaded silence that followed.

She went on to explain, “If you stay in a relationship where you know you are unable or unwilling to meet his needs, you’re taking away his ability to find someone who will.”

This simple mindset shift helped me gain the courage to finally end my marriage.

I realize it isn’t always that easy to make a decision of that magnitude, but it was the permission and the simple truth I was unknowingly searching for at the time. 

The reality is that, despite our efforts to resist, people change multiple times throughout their lives. Change is healthy, and sometimes changing means growing apart instead of together. Often, the writing is on the wall long before the divorce papers are filed. We see it coming, yet we are filled with fear and avoidance, thinking problems will disappear if we only try harder or do better.

Sometimes, we let our perceived obligations to others influence our choices. In further discussions with my coach, we discovered that we both knew early on that our marriages were destined to fail, but were consumed with a sense of responsibility to others. 

Our parents paid for our weddings. 

We took our vows seriously. 

We felt guilty that people had invested in our relationships. 

We didn’t want to let others down. 

The truth we both realized was that those who love us respect our feelings and will be there regardless of whether we stayed or left our marriages, and those who exited our lives as a result of our divorces weren’t meant to remain any longer.

To be clear, neither of us are anti-marriage, nor do we harbor hatred toward our ex-husbands. We believe people are brought into our lives for a unique reason: to help us grow into the people we are today. If a marriage ends, no matter the circumstances, it was a gift from the Universe and it’s our responsibility to be able to view it that way. 

However, no matter how positively and lovingly we view the situation, divorce is still considered a loss and an ending of an important era in our lives. 

We need to grieve and feel the hurt. 

We must give ourselves the space to heal to be able to see what lessons we were meant to walk away with.

These lessons can be devastatingly painful. We feel for you, because we’ve learned them too. 

It’s okay to not be okay. 

We are firm believers that when we lean into the pain and darkness, it’s easier to release them, which helps us to quickly move forward in life.

On the flip side, many couples are determined to make their marriages work, and we fully support that too. There are beautiful lessons that can come from working together to conquer the difficulties. If it feels right, keep at it. If it doesn’t feel sustainable anymore, it’s okay to let go.

We know this might feel like a lot. It did for each of us too, and we’ve realized we are never as alone as we think. It can feel as though there is no one to talk to when these shameful feelings pop up, and that it’s disrespectful to discuss these private matters publicly with others. We know that as humans, we are social creatures who need relationships to thrive. We need the support of others to give us different perspectives and to sort through confusing events. That said, reach out to a friend, family member, trusted person, coach, or therapist. Don’t go through a divorce alone.

Regardless of how things end up, remember: your story is valid. 

It’s important because it’s yours. 

No one else has experienced it as you have. 

It’s why I’m here sharing my story today. 

My hope and wish is to help you feel less alone, to know that despite what might be said, you didn’t ruin your or your spouse’s life, and to remember that it’s okay to let go of a relationship that is no longer serving you.

In the end, divorce can be the kindest option for us and our spouse. We just have to give ourselves permission to view it that way.

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