May 28, 2013 at 2:18 pm #36202
I’m sure people see this kind of post all the time. I was married for 19 years and we have three kids. She decided a year ago that she wasn’t happy and no longer loved me. I thought I could be an adult and be amicable, so I smiled and pretended it was a chance to start a new life. The mediator left us a message a bit ago to set up the appointments so we can do the final write up. Then its off to the judge and 19 years of my life are over. 19 years reduced to a couple of two hour meetings and a spreadsheet.
Here’s the thing. I find no silver linings in this. The life I loved is over. My kids are now statistics and get to be the children of divorce the rest of their lives. No exciting future will come of this, there is no new found freedom and no life lesson here. It’s the end of my world, not the start of something new. I’ve worked so hard to find some sort of balance in this. I wanted to follow all these things and ask myself “what can be good about this” rather than “what else can happen”. I tried to talk myself into believing that there was something- anything- that I can take away as a positive. The truth is- I don’t believe any of it anymore. No good comes of this. I walk away alone with the knowledge that I couldn’t do a thing to make this right. I’ll live with that shame the rest of my days.
I’m not even sure what I’m looking for right now. Maybe just somebody who says they really understand or tell me what life lesson I’m supposed to learn here because aside from the lesson that life kicks me any chance it gets, I fail to see anything.May 28, 2013 at 3:10 pm #36204
I am so sorry to read this Jeff. You have been very eloquent and your pain is so clear in your words.
I’m sure there is nothing I can say that can make you feel better as your loss is profound.
I will say however that I don’t think you are right to feel shame. Things happen, people change and circumstances which are beyond our control occur. This can happen to anyone and beating yourself up about it will not help. From what you’ve told us, I can’t see anything that you’ve done wrong in this situation other then ‘being a human being’.
Maybe it’s not a case of looking for the good in this situation. Maybe it is about resolve?
I think perhaps all you can do is resolve to make the best of what has happened? So you could resolve to be the best father you can be. You can resolve to continue to treat your wife with respect?
I think it is also really really important that you resolve to look after yourself. It’s easy in these circumstances to go to pieces and it would be best if you could avoid that. Look after your emotional and physical health as best as you can.
When I was single I came across this book. It was written in the 30’s by a former Vogue editor. It was written for women, but I believe that the advice is very practical and can be of great use for men too. I am married now but I keep a copy of this book by my bedside because it’s so useful, it’s no nonsense, and practical too. You could have a look at the reviews and see if it is worth investing in for you.
I really hope you find peace.May 29, 2013 at 5:51 am #36240
Two of your statements really hit home with me, “I thought I could be an adult and be amicable, so I smiled and pretended it was a chance to start a new life.” and ” I walk away alone with the knowledge that I couldn’t do a thing to make this right. I’ll live with that shame the rest of my days.”
When my ex-wife and I decided to divorce, I too thought I could just start a new life while still maintaining an amicable relationship, but then a few weeks later, feelings of shame, guilt, and regret started seeping in with a record playing in my head, “What could I have done to make it work?” I realize now that our marriage was not a happy one and there was nothing that either one of us could have done to salvage the relationship, but nevertheless, the emotional turmoil I experienced of having been striped of my identity as “husband” and feelings of having failed my marriage we’re just unbearable.
If there was a lesson to be learned from all this for me, is that I’m often very hard on myself and that my mind is sometimes my own worst enemy telling me things that are completely untrue.
The following TEDtalk about self-compassion has recently helped me find some serenity about that relationship, but also developed new resiliency towards subsequent relationships: http://youtu.be/IvtZBUSplr4
If I could leave you with one more comment; please don’t give into the temptation to start another relationship – casual or serious – anytime soon. I think there should be a rule of thumb that says, after the break-up of a long term relationship, you need to spend at least 6 months to a year alone before embarking on a new relationship. I really wish someone had given me that advice after my divorce.May 29, 2013 at 6:13 am #36244
Thank you for your responses and also for the links.
I guess a little part of me dies with that message and it hit me far harder than I ever anticipated it would. I know it’s not my ex’s problem that I’m struggling, just as I know there was nothing that could save a marrige that had “run its course” (as my therapist has said). On a good day I might even admit that we had simply grown apart to a point where we both needed very different things out of the marriage. In the end, neither of us did anything wrong except grow apart and stop communicating with each other. Unfortunately, that’s very little consolation.
And Peter- I absolutely agree with you about starting another relationship too soon. I would bring far too much emotional baggage into any relationship and it will be a long time before i even consider one.May 29, 2013 at 10:38 am #36251
Jeff ~ I wonder if you could have ever imagined when you wrote your story, that it would be a blessing to another person? Please know that it was. It was a blessing to me to know I am not alone in this painful journey, I truly know how you feel.
I am in the final steps of ending my 22 year marriage and have never felt so utterly alone. That feeling that although one moves through their day; going to work, running errands, attending school functions they are alone in all they do. Like yourself, my spouse came home one day and announced that he no longer loved me, wanted out of our marriage, and was moving in with his 26 yr. co-worker and wanted to “be free of a family”. I was already numb from having buried my Mom a month earlier, and now the life I’d come to wear so comfortably was being ripped apart, and the thought of now having to navigate uncharted waters was overwhelming to me. All that I knew (or what I’d thought I knew) to be real and true, had become smoke and mirrors and I began to think that my whole life since I was 20 yrs old had been a lie.
What brought me to where I am now was the sobering understanding that I was now responsible to lead our children out of this terrible dark hole they had been thrusted into. This has not been easy, they were both starting high school when their father walked away. And truly there must be a very special place in the heavens for single mothers raising young sons. WOW what challenge that is! But through all the heartache, financial woes and tears something very beautiful has emerged; the knowledge that I will be play a very big part in all of my children’s life events.
My daughter is a senior in college and has been accepted to medical school, and my son will graduate with high honors from his high school next week and will be attending a Big 10 university this fall.
I can’t say I’ve figured out all of questions as to why this happened in my life, but I do know that I NEVER would have become who I am now, had I not gone through this. I try to surround myself with positive thoughts; posted on the fridge or on my office wall, and one that I am truly fond of is this _
Become the Buffalo!….When a storm begins to desend on the plains, cows will run to find shelter from it. But the mighty Buffalo will charge head first into the storm, thereby getting through to the Sun shining on the otherside all the faster. When storms of life rage against you, put your head down and push as hard as you can through it, for in doing so you will become the Buffalo” ~ Wilma Mankiller – First Female Chief of the Cherokee Nation
Your pain and confusion are not in vain, even if the purpose hasn’t been made clear, it will with time. For right now though, please know that realizing another has endurded this difficult path, has brought peace to me….and has made me feel less alone.
Stay strong & I will praying for peace to find you very soon.May 29, 2013 at 6:28 pm #36254
Jeff divorce is not fun and one of the most stressful experiences one can have. I presume thinking along the lines you have is not unusual and totally understandable, and sorry you had to experience it.
The problem is that your thoughts are in fact irrational and they make you feel bad, hopeless. By changing the way you think about the same event, your mood will improve.
You might want to see a psychologist who specializes in CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), or learn some techniques by your self. The one I like and the one that really saved me many times, is the 3 column technique. Check e.g. the book “Feeling Good” by David Burns.
You think ” The life I loved is over. My kids are now statistics…”, you are catastrophizing the matter, you see as “all or nothing”, but the life you loved is likely not totally over, and you still have your kids.
You think “No exciting future will come of this”, you are trying to predict the future. Most likely you find the ways to enjoy life, ways to live meaningful life. Nobody took this from you.
You think “No good comes of this”, you are again predicting the future and you think it is black and white. In fact, your kids learn from you how to deal with this situation or learn what should have been done differently. It makes you stronger, and your kids stronger. It perhaps opens some new opportunities for you.
Anyways, hope you get the ideaMay 30, 2013 at 6:13 am #36264
Yeah Indiglo- My therapist keeps telling me she’s going to whack me with her clipboard if I insist on the totally black or white responses to things! 🙂
I am actually better than I was. I think the message from the mediator to set things up for the final agreement sent me down a bad path. It is not unexpected, but it hammered me far harder than I thought it would. I guess up to this point I always had a faint hope of our being able to sit down, compromise, and work through everything to save the marriage. Time will dull the pain and maybe I’ll find some balance and even start to like living again. But how many times have we read that we need to live in the now? And my “now” has hurt me beyond any hurt I’ve ever had in my life. Not even my younger brother or my father passing away compares to this loss.June 3, 2013 at 9:48 pm #36425
I am sorry that you find yourself in this position. It is such a tough time.
I too went through a divorce after 17 years with my husband. My first piece of advice is to allow yourself time to grieve. You can’t move from all you’ve known in your married life without grieving it’s loss. Don’t be too hard on yourself, allow yourself to feel the grief.
My second piece of advice is to still attempt to be amicable with your ex-wife. Not for yourself, or for her, but for your children. They love you both, you two are the most important people in the world to them and nothing hurts a child more than seeing their parents fight. Their ability to cope with this situation really does depend on how you two respond to each other. If you need to fight/discuss/argue, do so in private when the children aren’t around.
Thirdly, there is life after divorce. Just don’t force it. Look after yourself, your health, your children and the rest will follow. I personally saw a counsellor to help me adjust and he recommended a book for me to work through. It may be worth a look if you’re interested or when you’re ready. It is called “Rebuilding when your relationship ends” by Dr Bruce Fisher. He also holds seminars in the US if that is where you are based.
In Australia we have a place called Relationships Australia that hold courses to help you rebuild and restart after a relationship breakdown. I’m not sure if there is anything similar where you are, but if so, perhaps something along those lines may be helpful to you.
Good luck with everything JeffJune 4, 2013 at 5:44 am #36430
I totally agree with you about the kids- it’s one thing both of us have strived to do during all of this. My STBX and I have a pretty good relationship (all things considered). We’re both products of divorce ourselves and both had lousy situations put on us by our own parents, so we both went into the split knowing how vital it was to manage to stay at least cordial. My parents split was so bitter and venomous that over 30 years later they couln’t be in the same room. Her parents also have a very unhealthy relationship where neither has emotionally moved on. I figure we need to stay on friendly terms. After all, we’re going to see each other the rest of our lives at brthdays, graduations, weddings, etc. It’s why I’m so concerned about the kids being nothing but statistics. Both sets of our parents divorce and now we do. All the studies pretty much concur that we’re setting our own children up to continue to perpetuate the cycle unless we can do something to break it. No, that’s not a reason for us to stay together- I’ll never do it “for the kids” but I so desperately need them to understand that you shouldn’t just walk away and not try to work on things either. That’s hard when it’s exactly what she did.
Anyway- thanks for the message. It helps to know others go through this too. As for life after divorce- I don’t know. I still am not seeing how I’m coming out of this a “better” person or that there is a life for me. I guess maybe with time.June 4, 2013 at 8:56 pm #36470
I understand your worries about your children being statistics, I think that is a worry we all have to some extent. I don’t know about repeating the cycle though…both my brother and myself have divorced and our parents have been married for 43 years and have a great relationship. My new husband also comes from a family where his parents are still married after 42 years and are still so in love that it’s inspiring. So, even those that come from ‘intact’ families can become divorce ‘statistics’ as well.
I believe that the worry about your children being statistics and potentially setting them up to repeat the cycle is mostly driven by guilt. For me I feel guilty that I couldn’t provide my son with the ‘intact’ secure family that I grew up in and I know my brother and my new husband feel the same.
I’m so glad to hear that you and your ex-wife understand the importance of remaining amicable. One would say ‘how could you not after your own upbringings’ but believe me, I know plenty of people that haven’t learnt from those experiences. Have you thought that perhaps you are breaking the ‘cycle’ by your ex and yourself being amicable? That you are teaching your children tolerance, love and understanding…all essential skills for a successful life?
Life after divorce will come when you are ready. You may not become a ‘better’ person per se, particularly if you are happy with who you are now…but I can pretty much guarantee that you will come out of it stronger. No one can experience the grief you are experiencing now and not grow from it in some way, shape or form. As I said before, just take the time to grieve. Right now, just focus on getting through each day, focus on the joys where you can (your children, for example), and congratulate yourself at the end of each day for getting through it.June 5, 2013 at 4:23 am #36487
Kirsty- you hit that guilt thing right! Part of the way I was raised where we kids were made to feel guilty over just about everything. Guilt is one of those things you work on,but it’s so deeply entrenched that it takes constant reminders in my head.