When you go public with your divorce, don’t be surprised when friends ask who wanted it or who chose it and then be prepared. You may get less support when you initiate divorce.
Today, I’d like to introduce you to Lisa Thomson who was married for 18 years. Although Lisa was divorced in 2005, she was involved in litigation for a number of years giving her great insight into the divorce process. From this she has written The Great Escape: A Girl’s Guide To Leaving A Marriage and in this first post, she talks about initiating divorce. Here’s Lisa.
I spent about 10 months, maybe almost a year really thinking about how to go about the decision. I knew that I wanted to do it, but it was a question of how I was going to actually initiate the separation. It was overwhelming. I’m sure most people can relate to that.
It is a little bit of a different experience, I think, when it’s you that initiates the separation as the woman. I think society in general tends to accept the woman being left as a more common situation. Obviously, that still does happen, but I think women may find that they get a little more support that way, as they might be viewed more as the victim.
I think being that I initiated the divorce and that we were fairly well off, we were comfortable, I think from the outside, people looking in thought, “Well, you have everything. What’s your problem?” But those are only the superficial things and what’s really going on in the inside is what matters. Those are the things that people can’t see.
I think in this situation there was a little bit of judgment being thrown around. People just didn’t understand. It did end up being a fairly volatile divorce.
I did have a couple of close friends that I was able to confide in and they were very supportive. But my family just couldn’t grasp it. What’s really, really shocking is that we were just on a holiday with them about two months before I physically moved out of the house and on that holiday my own father said, “I don’t know how she can stand him.” He said that to my mother who relayed that to me.
Also, my ex-husband was quite disrespectful to my sister for some reason. So, she saw quite a bit and observed and everything. However, even in spite of all of those things, I think they felt threatened by the decision. They felt threatened that I was ending my marriage and he worked for the family business. The whole family works for the business and so initially their first reaction might have been, “What does this mean for the business.”
I think more than anything, it was just a judgment that, “Hey, you live in a nice house, you go on holidays, you have two beautiful children who are healthy. What’s your problem?” I really honestly believe that was the general feeling, because I think it’s really alive and well that people are giving up on marriages and that the only excusable reason for divorce is abuse.
I have two problems with that. First, we don’t need to wait for physical abuse leave an unhappy marriage. And number two, we can’t always see abuse. We don’t always see it with our eyes. We don’t know what goes on in someone’s marriage. That kind of attitude is still around. It’s probably not quite as prominent as it has been at one time but there’s that undercurrent of, “Well, what’s your problem, you have everything?”
Meanwhile, what was going on in the marriage and had been going on for years was just unacceptable. I was always making excuses for it and often I felt like I was walking on eggshells, that I was trying to always please and I couldn’t totally be myself. I was the last person on his list. He just didn’t respect and didn’t cherish what we had as much as I was trying to.
It is a very personal decision. Initiating divorce doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt like hell. I think that’s misunderstood sometimes by people.
If you’re grieving in the marriage and that’s going on for a number of years, which it was for me and yet the other person isn’t grieving at all. They’re happy, because everything’s going their way. They’re very highly selfish, they don’t notice that the grieving had started years before for you or for that person that wants out.
Even if you initiate it, it’s not something you imagined. It’s not something that you thought would happen. You’re letting go of the dream and you didn’t want that.
The Divorce Coach Says:
I would agree with Lisa that people tend to equate initiating divorce with wanting divorce and assume that whoever initiated it must therefore be OK with it.
You’ll likely get more support from friends who understand the realities of your situation or who have had enough experience with divorce to know that it is a decision of last resort. That doesn’t mean you need to try to get your other friends to see divorce differently – my concern with that is that you may end up over-sharing at a time when you need to be making very conscious decisions about exactly what you want to share and with whom. Rather, it means it’s time to create your Personal Divorce Support Team with your closest, most trusted friends.
If you’re feeling that all your friends are siding with your STBX, and that does happen, then trying searching for divorce support groups in your local area. Meetup.com is a good place to start. And, I know I’m biased but I would also recommend hiring a divorce coach. This is what we do.
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