When their marriage is in tatters and ending, nobody wants to hear that divorce is a learning opportunity and that they’ll grow from it. But with some time and distance, it’s true. Your divorce may become a pivotal moment in your development.
My current guest, Kyle Bradford, has been divorced now for nine years. During that time he’s grown personally as a father, partner and person through therapy, his fiancé, his writing, and his faith. Here’s Kyle:
I think it’s far easier for the one who initiates it to move on and here’s why I think that. Men usually have a lot of time to process the decision before they make it. So, in some cases I’ve known women and men for that matter, who’ve been considering, kind of prepping themselves for divorce for years, several years.
So, by the time that it actually happens, a majority of emotional strain is already done with. After that it’s kind of going through the realization of what they’ve been preparing for. Now granted, I was not the one who filed, so I had to deal not only with singlehood, but I had to deal with getting over the shock of it, which was like a bomb was dropped on me.
Therapy, for sure helped for awhile and then it got to the point where I just enjoyed going. I look at therapy where you start out going every week and things get better. Instead it’s every two weeks and then you’re going once a month. My therapist at one time called it, “Only when you need a tune-up.”
Shortly after the divorce I was in therapy for quite a long time and I think that helped tremendously, because it just helped me get my mind around some stuff.
But my greatest amount of growth, I think came later on. I reengaged with my faith. I know that had just a tremendous calming effect on me and it gave me the ability to look at things from a different prospective than I had before.
I have not been in therapy now, for five years, maybe six but I do a lot of reading. I do read some of self-help books, but my writing has certainly helped me understand things more than I ever did before.
It’s one thing for me to sit here and explain something. It’s a wholly different thing for me to be able to put thoughts into words so that anyone out there reading it can understand where I’m coming from. Completely different.
Writing helped me frame some of the challenges and some of the issues that I’ve come across in the years, in a way quite honestly, I never would have had if I didn’t do that.
The relationship I have with my fiancé has helped and then all of that under this overarching relationship that I have with God, I think that’s where I’ve made my most significant growth.
The Divorce Coach Says
I would disagree with Kyle that it’s easier for the person who initiates the divorce to move on – I think it has more to do with a difference in timing. For the initiator, there’s still shock, there’s still grief, there’s still sadness but they all come in the period leading up to the decision and that can be months or even years before the other person becomes aware that divorce is a reality.
I do tell clients to take time making their decision and to start on preparations such as researching housing options, getting back into the workforce or creating their financial budget. These preparations often help the person feel more confident about their decision because they help to remove some of the uncertainty about the future. I also know that when a spouse is told of the decision, and starts to see these preparations are underway, it adds to the shock.
Regardless of who makes the final decision, there’s always self-learning. That’s not something most people are receptive to immediately, not because they don’t want to be but more because there’s simply a capacity limit. You have to deal with the urgent issues first. You have to get through the initial trauma. Once the shocked has worn off and you’ve started to adjust to the new reality, that’s when the deeper learning can happen. I suspect however, that many people deal with the initial crisis and then think they’re done. They don’t go on to the deeper learning.
For me, my greatest learning has come from and continues to come from these interviewees. I’ve learned something from each and every person. They’ve been my therapy and I know they all join me in saying, they hope they’re your therapy too.
This is the last segment in Kyle’s story and I appreciate his willingness to share his journey here. You can keep up with Kyle at his website ChopperPapa, ‘High octane observations on manhood, divorce, relationships, fatherhood, and other intellectual roadkill’. He also hosts a monthly podcast, FatherhoodWideOpen, ‘Intelligent conversation on issues facing fatherhood and masculinity with the people who think and write on them.’ He lives, writes, and works in Atlanta, Georgia.