Divorce is a personal decision – no one other than you or your spouse can make that decision. Most of us want to look back on the decision to divorce and to feel with a high degree of certainty that we did what we could to make the marriage work and that divorce was the best decision we could make at the time.
My current guest, Suzy, has been divorced now for about two years and was married for thirteen. It took her a long time to decide that divorce was the right decision and it took her a long time actually get divorced. The process she went through means she can look back on her decision and have no regrets. It was absolutely the right decision for her. Here’s Suzy:
What’s my view of divorce now? I think that’s a hard question.
I don’t think you can put that on somebody and say, “You shouldn’t get divorced.” That’s pretty extreme to be in a sexless marriage and a loveless marriage and have religion on top of that. I hear that people get divorced for reasons that are, “OK, you’re unhappy,” and I do wonder about that. Are we really putting our whole heart into figuring this out?
I’m not like, “If you’re unhappy, get out.” I don’t feel that’s true. I think we can take divorce as an easy out. It is good to allow space in there, to take care of yourself, see a therapist or a coach or whatever and figure yourself out, because getting a divorce, you ain’t going to figure yourself out. You’re the same person before and after.
I think it’s a process, and it was for me, a huge process. But I think during that two year legal separation, if my husband had flown out and said, “Guess what? I’m gay. There’s a huge dilemma in my life. I’m working it out. I am so sorry. Please move to Washington, D.C. I will pay to move you to Washington, D.C. so that we can join therapy together and figure out what’s the best thing for our family,” if he had come forward, I think the outcome would have been very different.
I’m not saying we would have stayed together, because he’s gay, but maybe we would’ve lived in the same place and he could have seen the kids more. But he never did that.
So, allowing that space helped me to walk away from it regret-free. I did absolutely everything I could do and this is the right outcome. So, I’m very grateful for the space. I think people should do that rather than rushing in. I know people that are like, “Yeah, I’ll be divorced in a month.” I’m like, “Oh, my God.” A month? You can figure out all of this shit in a month after a 20-year marriage? You just can’t do that.
I think deciding to divorce depends on what you want out of your life. Some people can live within, “OK, this is not even a marriage, but we’re both getting payoff on some degree and I’m OK with that.” I know people that are seriously alright with that. I’m just not one of those people.
I want the real deal or I don’t want anything at all and having experienced a bad marriage, I never want to replay that. I’d rather live how I’m living now and live in an apartment counting my pennies. I’d much rather live that way.
It’s just, “What kind of person are you?” I had to figure that out for myself.
The Divorce Coach Says
I don’t think any of us are in a position to judge if another person should end their marriage – there are some situations where it may be very understandable but for others, there’s no way for us to look in from the outside and appreciate what being in that particular marriage truly means. And as Suzy says, the marriage that works for some, doesn’t work for others.
I like Suzy’s message of the importance of taking some time to figure it out and to decide what’s best for you. Some people take that time during a lengthy separation, as Suzy did. For others this time of contemplation can happen during the marriage so while the eventual legal divorce process may appear short and quick, the emotional process has been lengthy and may still be on-going.
I don’t think this applies only to the person who made the decision. Since it’s about accepting the end of your marriage, it would apply regardless of who initiated the divorce. Certainly, if your spouse initiated the divorce, the timing of figuring out what’s best for you is different and it would feel very different since it may have been forced on you but it’s still going to take time. And all too often we don’t give ourselves enough time.
Did you feel rushed or pressured going through your divorce? What did you do to allow yourself more time?
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