Ending your marriage is a series of obstacles. Telling your spouse and telling your kids you want a divorce are two of the hardest obstacles. Some people just can’t bring themselves to do it. Some even resort to behaving in such a way as to force their spouse to be the one to say, ‘I want a divorce.’ And telling the kids isn’t any easier the older they are.
My current guest, Lois Tarter had been married for twenty-five years when she divorced. Her eldest child was away in college, her youngest was at home finishing up high school. Even though she and her husband had drifted apart it wasn’t easy to have the divorce conversation. Here’s Lois:
It was hard telling my husband I wanted a divorce. I would assume it’s always very difficult. It was very difficult. We had two kids. But he’d already moved back east. We had moved out of our house and I had to send all of his stuff to him. I was thinking about moving back east, we had sold our house and I had moved into this condo, because my son still had a short time in high school.
I realized after I did it that every single thing that was his, every piece of clothing, toothbrushes—there was nothing left in the house that was his. I think when he got everything it dawned on him too that something was really seriously wrong, “..she didn’t leave me a toothbrush. She didn’t leave anything that’s mine in the house to move.”
I can’t say what the conversation with him was like. Not because I won’t, but I can’t because it was very traumatic and I tend to block out stuff like that.
I think it was very difficult for my kids. My son was living at home, so he was more aware of the friction that had developed. My daughter had been gone. She was in her, I think, third year of college. So, she wasn’t at home all that much.
I think it was more difficult for her, because I think kids are more involved in whatever’s going on with them. I think for her it was much more difficult situation. I think she took it harder than he did. I think he saw it coming. She wasn’t at home, so she didn’t see it coming.
They don’t have the same day-to-day interaction that you have when you’re living at home. As kids grow up and go about their lives, they do tend to move away. Hopefully, they still stay close to their parents, because certainly that’s what we want. But I think when they’re not there and they don’t have to deal with it on a day-to-day basis, they work out what’s going to work for them and hopefully you can be helpful.
There were times when I wasn’t as supportive as I should’ve been. I was more self-absorbed and thinking about what I was going to do and how I was going to do it. I probably wasn’t as sensitive to some of what they were going through as I could’ve been.
The Divorce Coach Says
I think it can be helpful to see that deciding to end your marriage, telling your spouse and telling your children are each separate obstacles. You need to prepare for each separately but it all starts with having clarity that for you, your marriage is over. Once you have that clarity, then you can start preparing for divorce and making those preparations will make you more prepared for the conversation with your spouse and kids.
Many of us put a great deal of thought and preparation into telling our kids. It’s a conversation we dread yet, from the children of divorce I’ve interviewed they only vaguely recall the conversation years later. ( See Sarah, Ashley and Sandy).
How did you tell your spouse or how did they tell you? Is there a way that would have made it easier, kinder, gentler?
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