Thinking that divorce will put an end to the marital difficulties between you and your spouse is common but often times I’m sorry to say, it’s just wishful thinking. That’s especially true if you have children because like it or not you will have to figure out a way you and your STBX can parent together.
The past is not a predictor of the future and I have heard many stories of spouses becoming better parents after divorce and parents being happier parents apart. But I’ve also noticed a situation where the past is a pretty good indicator of what you can expect after divorce: if you have a spouse who is controlling and/or emotionally abusive then you can expect to have an ex who is controlling and/or emotionally abusive.
Today, I’d like you to meet Helen. Helen is mother to four children, one of whom died from SIDS and one who has specials needs. Helen was divorced in 2010, after two years of negotiations. She’s been in and out of court since then for issues related to child custody and finances. She’s counted a total of thirty-seven court appearances. Some of the issues remain unresolved but now bankrupt, Helen can no longer pay legal fees.
Yes, you guessed it … Helen says her husband was emotionally abusive and now she has an emotionally abusive ex. Here’s Helen:
Right from the beginning there were constant battles and fights. It’s funny how people come out and afterwards say, “I always thought.” Well, why didn’t you come out and say something then?
My family said whenever we had family gatherings I would look like a deer in the headlights because he was the type that you never knew what was going to upset him or what was going to set him off.
What you need to know about me, is when I married my husband I was successful in my own right already. I had my own business. I sold it to a major PR firm. I had it together, but I also had an agenda. I wanted to have kids. I wanted to move back to the East coast and I wanted somebody who was willing to move back to the East coast.
A friend said afterwards, “He met your checklist.” To be honest, I guess he did. That was it.
There were probably a lot of red flags that I should have noticed faster, but I was working probably a 60 or 70-hour working week and then I had kids. I was so busy in life that I either chose to ignore it or whatever, but that’s what happened.
I pride myself on being an intelligent, strong woman but it was constantly well, “You don’t do this enough.” I was always trying to turn myself upside down to do something that was right. He was constantly blaming me and when I would try to work on situations and say, “Let’s work on this. Let’s work on our marriage,” there was never any ownership. It was “if you stopped doing this it would be all fine. If you wouldn’t do this it would be all fine”.
It was bad and then he really started getting difficult with my son who has special needs. As much as he was OK when our first son died of SIDS, he just couldn’t accept my son with special needs. It really was what started the ball rolling. He would call my son lazy. He would call him a wild boy.
I left my job because there was just no way I could work in Manhattan and do what I needed to do with my son.
All of a sudden it was just one income – a baby-proofing company we had together, but it was one income and all of a sudden medical insurance had to be private.
I started feeling really trapped.
My mother and I have a fabulous relationship and so many times I would say, “I need to leave. I want a divorce.” It’s not that divorce wasn’t approved of in my family, it’s just no one ever did it because literally everybody in my family has had a wonderful relationship.
While my mother wanted to be supportive, bless her heart, she didn’t say the right words. She never said, “You need to get out. Just do it.”
She would just say, “I’m always there to support you.”
I didn’t know what that meant. I didn’t have anyone to say, “You got to do it, you got to do it, you got to do it”.
The Divorce Coach Says
Having someone ask you if you’ve considered divorce makes a difference.
I forget the exact timing of this relative to my own divorce but on a trip back home, I remember visiting one of my good friends, sitting in her kitchen having a cup of tea. She asked me if I’d thought about divorce. I said not really. I said it wouldn’t make much difference because I’d still have to parent with my husband. She just nodded her head and the conversation moved on.
Up until that moment I had never even considered divorce an option.
That conversation planted a seed.
Did something someone else said or did get you to see divorce as an option?
P.S. I was wrong about divorce not making a difference – it’s made a huge difference and for the better.
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