As you contemplate divorce or as your spouse tells you your marriage is over, you find yourself wondering who is this person you married. Who is this person you thought you knew? Divorce coach, Lee Brochstein it’s a feeling that could stay with you for years to come. Here’s Lee:
[contemplate1] The first time your children are gone for a weekend, it is awful. You wait and pace for the exchange with your new ex, this now stranger in your life. Knots are in your stomach and the sweat pools on your forehead and under your arms. You feel like you want to throw up.
You look out the window one hundred times for the car to pull up into the driveway, but it is like a watched pot that never boils, so you step away from the window, only to bolt back to it every time you hear a car passing by. Should you go out and greet this man that is no longer your husband? Will he walk the children to the door? What will you say?
You finally hear the crunch of tires on the cement and go to the front door and unlock it. Your hands are shaking and your legs are not steady. The knot in your stomach is getting larger by the second and you feel lightheaded. How can you feel such nerves facing a man that you were married to for years?
You make it through that first exchange without a scratch and know that the next time will be easier. This person who you now share kids with is a virtual stranger. You have done the most intimate things with him, yet you don’t recognize him as someone you know. You wonder how you manage to share these beautiful creatures together, but you do.
You will have many moments with this stranger over the years following your divorce. You will get nervous and anxious. You will stand next to this person you once loved while your children graduate from high school and college. You will break bread at weddings, and you will marvel at the fact that you do not recognize this person as anything more than your children’s father.
If you are lucky, you will come to a place where the stranger will turn into a friend, maybe even a good friend, but before then he is someone you do not know anymore. You will hear snippets of conversation from your kids about him and catch glimpses into a life that you do not belong in anymore and remember when you did belong there. You will nod and smile at your children as if you understand what they are saying, when it really sounds like white noise.
You will grow and change. You will find your own footing in your new life, and through that realize that this stranger has no place in your life either and might even feel the same way about you. You share children. You will always share children. Everything else that you have shared will fade away until it is a faint and dim memory of a life that felt like it was lived by someone else.
You will heal, you will move on, you will evolve and so will he. You will accept this stranger as someone you know at parent/teacher conferences and life events, but he will remain a stranger, despite the fact that you have children. This is how divorce feels and it does not mean it is bad, it just is what it is.
As I read this I was reminded of a provision in my separation agreement:
The parties hereafter shall live separate and apart from one another, each to be free from the marital control and authority of one another. Neither party shall have access to the person or residence or property of the other in excess of that of a stranger, and the parties shall henceforth, be strangers at law to one another.
When I read this at the time, I was stuck by the use of the word “stranger” and I remember contemplating then, just how odd it was that our relationship had come to this.
Does your ex or STBX feel like a stranger to you?
Lee Brochstein is a certified professional divorce coach, blogger, a well-known author and a nationally known expert from her appearances on television and radio talk shows. She enjoys alliteration, Mad Men, Big Bang, mixed breeds, vanilla lattes, red wine and her kids when they aren’t killing each other. Follow her on twitter and Facebook.
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