The vast majority of people I talk to work hard at their marriage. They respect their vows. They look for ways to resolve the challenges. Many of them held the view that, ‘divorce is not an option.’ Then something happened. In the moment of that something, they see for the first time that divorce may be a option. They start to question whether staying married is possible. These are catalytic moments – they are the moments when suddenly divorce becomes an option.
My current guest, Helen had been married for thirteen years when she experienced her catalytic moments. Here’s Helen.
I’d been extremely emotionally and verbally abused for many years. I swore that if it started on my kids I would be out. Well, he started getting extremely verbally and emotionally abusive with my son, my son with special needs.
There were two times where he started really getting into it with my son and screaming at him because he didn’t set the table the right way. I had to remove myself from the situation. It was really bad. That day I got a call from the school to say my son was in a four-point lockdown because they were having issues with him, with his behavior. A four-point lockdown is two men, one holding his legs down and one having to hold his arms down pinned to the ground.
Kids have died because of restraint because it has not been done properly and literally die.
I walked into the school and I hear my son screaming, “You can’t hurt me. You’re not my Dad.”
That’s when I said, “I’m done. I’m done”.
I called my husband and said, “We need emergency family counselling.”
I didn’t say marriage counselling, I said family counselling and he said, “Well as long as you’re not there I’ll do it.”
That was never going to work. That was in early September of 2008. I had one girlfriend that I was confiding in and I told her I needed to get out. She was a single mom of three kids and she said, “I get it, but you know what, don’t do it until after the holidays because it will affect your kids. Let them have the holidays. Don’t do it until after the holidays.”
So I thought I would wait.
I had to go on a business trip in November. It was in and out in the same day.
In the morning, he was getting the girls dressed and my little one, as little ones do, was complaining about what she wanted to wear or something and I said, “Just let her wear what she wants you know”.
He said, “Fuck you,” in front of the girls. That was the other tipping point.
I thought, “I will never allow my girls to hear me disrespected as such. I will never allow them to hear me abused like that. I will never allow them growing up thinking less of me because I allowed that to happen.”
I went up for my meeting. I came home and I was very calm. I just said, “This isn’t working. We need a divorce.”
That was probably 6 or 7 o’clock at night.
I woke up in the morning and apparently he had been up all night. He had sent an email far and wide to family, friends, business colleagues, everybody, announcing over email that I’d asked for a divorce, that we were separating and he hoped that it would be okay for the kids.
That’s how every one of my friends found out.
It was Monday night before Thanksgiving.
The Divorce Coach Says
The moral of this segment is, “Prepare for the worse and hope for the best.”
If your STBX has a history of difficult, controlling, irrational behavior you need to do damage control BEFORE announcing you want a divorce.
That means exercising control and restraint and it means methodically working through precautionary measures to protect yourself. My Kindle book Untangling From Your Spouse: How To Prepare For Divorce walks you through these steps. You won’t be able to prevent your STBX from sending an email to their contacts but can make sure they don’t have access to your email account and social media accounts.
Knowing that you’re laying the groundwork may also give you the strength and foresight to keep quiet in the heat of the moment when what you really want to say is, “I want a divorce!
This is a little different but it might help … it was some months between my ex and I agreeing to divorce and him moving out. Being in the house then was like walking on broken glass. He was doing things that irritated and upset me. I expect he felt the same way about me. There didn’t seem any point in trying to talk about it so instead I started a list of the behaviors and habits I’d no longer have to put up with. That somehow gave me a lot more patience and tolerance.
How did your spouse react when you said you wanted a divorce? How did you prepare in advance of telling your STBX?
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