my divorce is not a failure

FailedAnother one bites the dust.

I found out recently that another one of my couple friends is separating. I think, in the last year alone, four couple friends of mine have separated.

I’m sure our grandparents are appalled with our generation and our throw-away marriages. We are selfish, have no sense of responsibility and lack commitment. What happened to “for better or for worse”?

Well. Sometimes ending the marriage is for the better. I don’t look at my divorce as a failure.

When I walked down the aisle at my wedding, it was forever. I wasn’t thinking about whether or not it would last; is he the right guy?; am I settling? No way. I was never more sure of anything in my life.

And we were responsible and committed; and we went through a lot of better and worse for 17 years.

But sometimes the person we marry at 25 years old is not the same person at 40 or 50 years old. More often though, WE are not the same people. Life happens and there is no way to predict how you or your partner is going to manage kids, the loss of a parent, money troubles, mental illness, job loss, or addiction. These things change people – life changes people.

Many people assume that long marriages are happy ones because they are supposedly indestructible. After all, they’ve weathered the storms and survived to make it to their golden anniversary. But, sometimes, they’ve simply learned to live with the situation. Truly, there is nothing wrong with that as long as you’ve decided that it’s a situation you can indeed live with.

He can’t stand my relatives so he doesn’t come to family dinners

Can you live with that? It may or may not be acceptable to you.

She spends constantly, driving our credit through the roof

Can you live with that? Or will you wind up resenting how hard you have to work to keep making money.

If you can’t accept things as they are, you aren’t doing anyone any favours by staying together and not being happy. Divorce isn’t the failure, the unhappy marriage is.

You can google the reasons for divorce to the ends of the earth but, generally, the same reasons keep coming to the top.

Besides the obvious top 5 reasons for divorce – infidelity, abuse, lack of communication, money troubles, lack of intimacy/sex – there are other reasons that can creep up more slowly and surprise you, even after 20 years!

I have personally seen at least one marriage end for each one of the following reasons:

In-compatibility

This one confuses sometimes because

we had everything in common when we got married!?

But nothing stays the same. Over time, people grow and change, especially as we age. Sometimes that individual growth can mean growing apart from your spouse. When a couples lives, interests and dreams go in different directions, a once compatible relationship isn’t compatible anymore.

Loss of Autonomy

The ability to be with someone and still maintain a sense of self and independence is very important but not always so easy to do. Especially if one person is a little controlling or insecure and the other is a people pleaser and afraid of conflict. Along with your shared life, you need to have your own friends, interests and opinions. A lack of individual identity can quickly create a co-dependant relationship which isn’t healthy or happy.

Addiction

Give him a beer and he will be the life of the party

or

She goes overboard with the shopping sometimes but it makes her so happy

An addiction doesn’t happen overnight so you may not even see it coming. But addiction is real and it’s scary. I’m not just talking about drugs and alcohol – gambling, shopping, cleaning and even sex can become addictions. Loving an addict is physically and emotionally exhausting and leaves little left for you. Only the very strongest of relationships can survive addiction.

Mental Illness

Sometimes mental illness is hereditary and you have a bit of a heads up but, more often than not, it’s lying beneath waiting for the trigger. A dramatic life event can cause depression, PTSD or even psychosis. No one has the same trigger so there is no way to predict. The death of a child or parent or being the victim of a crime can very often significantly change a person you know into someone unrecognizable.

Resentment

When one partner, over time, takes on more and more of the responsibility in the relationship – whether they take it on themselves or it is expected of them – it can lead to a build up of resentment. Resentment is a mixture of disappointment, anger and fear. These are toxic emotions and they will eat away at your relationship like an acid bath.

Abrupt lifestyle change

Your partner is transferred across the country but you can’t imagine leaving your home town. Or a car accident or medical situation has left your partner needing help and your role changes to caregiver. Financial gains and losses can disrupt life as well. We all know that “losing it all” can have a devastating emotional effect but “winning it all” can also change your life and cause conflict. If you can’t adapt, your relationship will suffer drastically.

Now, this all sounds like gloom and doom but I haven’t given up on love. Along with my many friends that are separating, I know others that are still going strong after 20+ years so I am confident that I’ll get it right this time.

In fact, it is said that couples in second marriages are less likely to divorce because they benefit from the experience of the first marriage.

I believe this whole heartedly but – and this is a BIG BUT – you MUST recognize the role YOU played in the breakdown of your first marriage. No matter how much you want to blame, it’s never just one person’s fault. Take responsibility for your part and learn from it.

I know the part I played in my marriage breakdown and because of this,
my divorce is not a failure.

In fact, my divorce is going great! My ex-husband and I are great co-parents, we’ve worked our way back to the friendship we had before we got married and, most importantly, we are happier.

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Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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