Suzanne’s biggest challenge and accomplishment after her divorce was succeeding as a single parent, with everything that entails. Getting married in college at twenty, meant Suzanne had never lived on her own or had sole responsibility for running a household. Yet, even with all that learning, Suzanne still says there was one thing that dominates as the most difficult task – being the first divorce in her family. Here’s Suzanne:
Getting a divorce was one of the hardest things I had to do, not so much because I was scared to be by myself or that I didn’t think I could make it on my own but more because I have really strong family values.
No one in my family has ever been divorced, ever, not cousins, not uncles, not aunts, not grandparents, not anyone. I was the first one and I’m still the only one to ever be divorced.
For me, the biggest thing was to say,
“Wow, I made a mistake in choosing a partner and I’d rather be without them than live this way.”
That was probably the hardest part in getting divorced, which may sound silly to some people.
It was hard, especially those first couple of years at family functions, hard to be there and to look at everyone and say, “Yeah, I’m divorced now.”
My parents were upset when I told them. They wanted to know if we couldn’t do counseling but I was past that. I think they were more upset for my son – he’s the apple of their eye. He can do no wrong and is spoiled completely by his grandparents. I think they treat him differently from their other grandchild and it’s probably because he was their first, but I think it also has to do with they feel for bad for him because he comes from this ‘broken home.’
He loves his grandma … she doesn’t have any rules … grandma just lets him do whatever:)
The Divorce Coach Says
A couple of thoughts on this segment:
How often have you heard the phrase “It’s too easy to get divorced.” Do you think it is?
Maybe the legal process is easy, it certainly seemed pretty straightforward for me in Colorado but the emotional process for me was the hardest, most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do. I know exactly where Suzanne is coming from. I’ve interviewed over fifty women about their divorces and I don’t think a single person has described their divorce as emotionally easy. One of my universal truths about divorce is that it is always painful.
Being the first in your family to get divorced is hard and I think it’s hard on two fronts. Firstly, family is usually a source of role models and if no one has been divorced, then you have to look elsewhere. Life events always seem easier when there are role models and being first in the family means there’s no friendly aunt or cousin to pull you aside and support you.
The second way it’s hard is because you are teaching all your family members about divorce and how their role changes in the situation while processing the divorce yourself. They may not say it but they may be looking to you for guidance. They’ve all seen movies and news reports showing the worse sides of divorce but you could be the one to show them what a good divorce looks like, a divorce where your ex can still attend family events, where it’s OK for your family still to be friends with your ex. It can also mean being on the receiving end of judgmental comments.
Where you the first in your family to divorce? How did your family react? Did others follow suit soon after you?
And one more thing … “broken home” is one of those phrases I’d like see banished. Children should be told or lead to think they come from a broken home simply because it is laden with negativity. In truth, the one or two homes they have after divorce may be a much healthier, happier environment for them.