Yesterday, I introduced Lauren and how one evening helped her decide to respect her feelings. That one evening led to a year of counseling and culminated in divorce. Lauren says that year was the hardest part of the divorce. Here are her words.
I was starting to realize I wasn’t happy but I didn’t know how my husband felt. I’d been swallowing the things that made me unhappy for years. I would think about them and then push the thoughts away.
We’re married. This is what we’re supposed to be doing.
As I started to face my feelings, I realized if I kept bottling them up, I would end up being terribly resentful. I didn’t even like the person I was becoming. I had allowed myself to shutdown. I wasn’t me anymore because I was so not getting what I wanted out of my life that I didn’t bother enjoying it anymore.
I tend to be really loud and my husband didn’t like that. We’d be out in public and he’d say, “Ssh, ssh! Don’t be so loud!” So I started being quiet and then I stopped liking going out because I felt so self-conscious about what he or other people were thinking about me. He didn’t get my humor – when we first started dating, I would say something funny and he would look at me weird. I was used to my friends cracking up. Rather than thinking, ‘This isn’t a good fit. I should just break up and date someone else,’ I just stopped trying to be funny.
Over the course of our marriage I had actually become really uptight and I never felt like I was having fun.
I started talking to my husband about it and through a year of different talks, different arguments and two different marriage counselors, we decided we were not a good fit for each other. We realized that the only way our marriage would work was if one of us changed. I had changed to make it work for the last nine years and I had decided I didn’t want to be this not-me version of me anymore. In order for me to be happy, he would have to change. And that didn’t seem right either.
I didn’t hate him. He didn’t wrong me. So making the decision to leave was very painful for both of us. There was a lot of crying and a lot of trying to figure out whether to stay or go. We had a small child and there was a lot of guilt associated with that. ‘What’s going to happen to us? Is our son going to be OK? Will he be better off or is it better to pretend for the next 20 years?
All of that leading up to the words, “I think we need a divorce. That’s all there is to it,” coming out my mouth, was harder than any single day since then.
There’s so much that Lauren is saying that I can identify with. I remember the year leading up to our separation – like Lauren, it was very difficult. I felt I was hiding from the world. I used think of myself as a very social person. When the kids were little and it was hard to go out, I’d invite friends over and I loved cooking dinner for everyone. All that gradually changed – part of it was because I never knew what mood my husband was going to be in and I just couldn’t deal with it anymore.
I used to think the decision to leave would have been much easier if there had been some sort of cataclysmic event … an affair, an accident, a hidden debt … something that would mean I wasn’t being the bad guy because I wanted a divorce. I’ve also learned that part of what makes it such a hard time is that you’re coming to terms with the loss of your relationship and that involves grieving too. Once the decision is made and accepted or at least agreed to by your partner, it feels like a weight has been lifted and even though there are still challenges, the world seems brighter.
Interesting that the time before the divorce becomes public knowledge is sometimes the hardest and almost certainly the loneliest. What was the time like leading up to your divorce? Was it harder for you before the decision? Did you feel you’d lost who you were? I was wondering if the marriages that survive are where spouses help each other stay true to themselves or support each other in change?
Don’t forget, Lauren blogs at My Life Incomplete – she’d love to hear from you.