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What I Wish I Would Have Known BEFORE My Divorce

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Marital Mess: As the ink dries on my divorce papers, I've been able to reflect on the past six months of separation from my now-ex-husband.

wedding cake

I was sitting on a park bench with some friends of mine (both married with kids), updating them about my divorce. As the children frolicked, we complained about our husbands: How they never spend enough time with the family; how they don't get how hard it is to be a full-time mom, etc. Then I had an epiphany: I'd felt exactly like they did in my marriage, and I placed a lot of the blame for my unhappiness squarely on my now-ex-husband's shoulders. But it wasn't all his fault. I had created a situation wherein I was the boss and controlled almost everything. It was the very weight of that responsibility that I resented most.

The difference now (after being separated and sharing the custody of our 3-year-old) is that I've been given the gift of time to myself. My son's relationship with his father has blossomed because of their delineated time together. It has brought me tremendous comfort and happiness to get back in touch with the things I love and that make me who I am. Dance class, gourmet dining, independent cinema, travel, volunteering ... I've had the time to rekindle passions of mine that make me feel alive and vital, that I had pushed into the deep background of my married life.

I write this not to gloat and endorse divorce, but instead as a gentle reminder to moms just like I used to be. Why didn't I do these things within my marriage? I felt worn down by the day-to-day grind. I felt overwhelmed and unfulfilled by the endless laundry-folding, potty training, carpool driving, snack-making, picture-taking and career-making, not to mention trying to maintain the semblance of an intimate connection with my husband. I felt responsible for EVERYTHING. It seemed so monumental to take any time, however brief, to do the things that made me uniquely me. But looking back, I see now how totally necessary it is -- and how it ultimately makes me a better mom.

My first choice in life is still to be married with child(ren), and I wonder if my marriage would have turned out differently had I been nurturing myself with the same attention and love that I gave to my child and my husband. I'll never know the answer to that question, but I do know this: Moving forward, I will never stop making time for doing the things I love to do. Getting a sitter for just a few hours so I can reconnect with myself isn't just a luxury, it's an absolute necessity.

next: Help! My 4-Year-Old Loves Guns
25 comments so far | Post a comment now
Kristen June 3, 2010, 4:27 AM

Sad that it took a divorce for you to figure this out. Our family is intact and very HAPPY because we live by these “rules” so to speak. I think families also need to just slow down and truly try and enjoy each other.

Danielle June 3, 2010, 5:51 AM

Kristen that statement was just cold. Just because the other person is your lover doesn’t mean things are perfect. People with kids not in school and who don’t have the help from their parents and do it all on their own…it’s completely different. You are figuring things out as you go along. Yes separation is sad but for you to compare your family. When you don’t get a break you don’t put your own passions on hold, besides taking the kid with you everywhere. I’m sure your husband helps watch the kid while you have you time. Some people don’t get that luxury until after the kid is 5 and in kindergarten.

JBird June 3, 2010, 6:16 AM

What is this - a 2-paragraph justification that we must live our lives to make ourselves happy? Grow up. As a full-time working mother with a busy life and a husband that is less than perfect, this life isn’t all about YOU and YOUR NEEDS first. You can fill your brain up with every ounce of new-age mumbo jumbo about living your dream, fulfilling your passion… but that’s not a grown-up mantra honey. Didn’t you realize this after having kids?

Yes, I’m being judgemental, but I see this mind-set all the time, and it makes me sick. Sitting with yourself for a few hours so you can “reconnect” with your inner beauty? This generation is so narcissistic and full of “ME ME ME” — very evident from your post.

Black Iris June 3, 2010, 6:31 AM

I think the author has a great point here. Some wives talk about how their husbands actually spend more time with the kids after a divorce. That’s because they have custody at certain times. Why end up actually divorced when you could have your husband take the kids every Saturday and stay married? We shouldn’t attack her for raising this question, we should thank her.

Jilly June 3, 2010, 7:21 AM

WOW Jbird…angry much? Sounds like you need to take a little breaky-poo! Investing in yourself isn’t selfish unless it is at the detriment to others. A miserable women is not taking care of her family to the best of her ability in my opinion…you lose patience, understanding, empathy….(shall I go on?) when you are not feeling mentally and physically in shape. Part of keeping that “shape” involves taking a little time to nurture it…..a LITTLE time…..a LITTLE time….hear me? It is not a sin to take a break. Let me go on to give you an example…I go to to the gym to workout. Why? So I can be healthy, keep up with young kids, be there for husband and family in the future, etc…No one in this process is being ignored, my daughter goes with me and gets to have a blasts in the well-attended, secure play area! She does not want to leave, in fact it takes at least ten minutes to get her out of there! When I arrive to pick her up, I always find her giggling and happy, playing with the other children. Where do you find fault with that? I welcome you to do so…

Anonymous June 3, 2010, 9:59 AM

Well said JBird. We live in a world over run by me me me self entitled attitudes. No more compromises, no more making things work, just unjustified self gratification

Anon June 3, 2010, 10:39 AM

whine, whine, whine

Kristen June 3, 2010, 11:00 AM

To Danielle, this is Kristen. My post is not cold. I am a homeschooling mother who doesn’t get a break by sending her kids to school, PLUS I am a military wife who’s husband quite frequently works 12+hrs a day and goes on deployment. I am not being judgemental. I get that you are figuring it out along the way but come on, to be married and only figure it out after you get divorce just kind of shows that you didn’t try everything. My marriage is by no means perfect but we try hard and our happiness is just proof of that.

Samantha  June 3, 2010, 2:01 PM

Kristin, just because you get a divorce DOES NOT mean that you didn’t try everything. some people just weren’t meant to stay together, this women is sharing knowledge that she learned through experience and all you’re doing is telling her that she failed and that it was her fault. it’s great that you’re happy in your life, it sounds like a challenging one, but everyone is not you and it doesn’t give you the right to be so…mean. gosh. what happened to your compassion and empathy “hey i’m sorry you got a divorce but glad you learned something form the years you put into your marriage.” might have sounded a little nicer. every marriage is different and every family is different.

and to the author-i’m glad you learned what you did. i frequently say that no one should lose their zest for life….i’m glad that things have panned out the way they have for you, considering your situation. your ex is closer to your son, and your son will see you both as independent personalities, not just functioning parents. maybe this was what had to happen in order for you all to come to this point in your lives and i wish you the best.

Samantha  June 3, 2010, 2:06 PM

and Jbird…jeez . what is wrong with having a family AND pursuing other things that also make you feel fulfilled? the other things we love-hobbies, activities, don’t have to disappear when we get families. you’re “so sick of hearing this new age crap…” what about the seemingly old age theory of life you’re portraying?

Gigohead  June 3, 2010, 2:06 PM

wow. Reading this story reminded me of why my first marriage failed. I was too young and also too controlling. Now I take my time to do things that I love to do on my own and that does not include my kids. Sad, it took a divorce too to make me come to my own realization about my life.

HarleyCat June 3, 2010, 4:14 PM

Hang on a second here… she’s divorced with a 3 y/o and actually has time to take classes, volunteer, travel??? I’m not sure what big fat support payment she’s living off, but I’m divorced with a 3 y/o too, but I have a little thing called a FULL-TIME JOB and time to myself is very little and far-between. Must be nice! Her married-life “day-to-day grind” is my single-mom reality.

Michelle June 3, 2010, 6:05 PM

Actually, I am still married and my husband does stuff with my son all the time. Of course, my son is almost 8. Thats quite different from a 3 year old.
Maybe, the message is to to try to stick out and make it work especially if the guy is decent.

SS June 5, 2010, 1:17 AM

ahhahha JBird is going to live a very unhappy life, that much is obvious

Never realized momlogic attracted such an immature bunch

Denise June 30, 2010, 1:01 PM

I went through a divorce as well, I sacrificed, made it all about him and our child. Guess what, he cheated and left anyway. So now I do live my life for me, I don’t put all my efforts into a man and I won’t. Bitter, yes, but also now I have my eyes open to the real world where men leave and you are left holding the bag. Make yourself happy no one can do it for you. The only two I invest in is my child and me. I will not trust a man after what I went through, I just can’t.

Julieannle August 6, 2010, 4:15 PM

I think it is common to have second thoughts about a divorce once it finally becomes final. The fighting has usually slowed at that point, and the loneliness is setting in. I doubt that this divorce was the result of one person’s choices. If the author were back with her husband she might be just as unfulfilled in that relationship.

I too, saw my ex become a better person after seperating, and I missed him, our home, his family, etc. But when we reunited right before the divorce was supposed to be final, I saw that his public side was very different from what he was like with me. Things were worse than before, we had to start the divorce process again, and it was uglier. Not the best way to end a 27 year marriage. Sometimes missing an ex can make you feel guilty about a marriage ending even when it’s not your fault. Let’s give this gal a break, I’m sure there is more to the story.

C.C.B. August 18, 2010, 3:48 PM

I left the marriage, refused counseling, divorced him and now am having second thoughts about my Ex. I was on medications back then. Problem is, I am with a new man and we are planning to marry. Ex has girlfriend. Why am I so hurt and jealous about this? Is it too late to go back? Thanks for the help.

Susan August 19, 2010, 6:41 AM

Another view…
During my divoce which I now regret and wish I knew.
I thought I was doubting my religion.
My family counselor showed me it wasn’t my faith religion but the human aspects in
my church I had disagreed with that led me to doubt it and my marriage.
He encouraged me to not give up on my faith religion. I now overlook the human parts
I don’t agree with and concentrate on the eucharist which is the basis of my faith religion.
It has saved my sanity in aknowledging all the crap I have done. It made me other centered
rather than self centered. This was key.

I am healthy and really happy again and so are the kids.

Agree August 19, 2010, 7:12 AM

JBird, Anonymous, Susan…

Right on target!!

Mulligan August 20, 2010, 7:22 AM


It is called regret honey! You ran from the 1st guy and never faced your issues. I’ll bet you are having angry episodes and blaming someone else [they have “the issues” like I did my mom ]
Am I right? Why do I say this? Because I’ve been where you are.

I ran, I married again too soon and ran again. I finally got into counseling again with a good family centered shrink and was able to figure it all out. My old one had led me to take the meds, blame others and believe it was all about “me” being happy. What a crock.

I actually asked my ex to go with me though he had moved on. I didn’t realize all the hurt I inflicted due to “brain fog”…I now know my reality at the time was I couldn’t feel normal emotions like I might be hurting him, my kids…due to the drugs…a mess. O’h, I was functional and looked normal. I understand now I made many decisions that ruined my world and theirs not caring what it might be doing.

If you have kids, like I did, you need to confront the damage done, and is still doing, to them. I also had to come to grips with moms so called “issues” that were really “my issues” I didn’t want to face. That was tough.

I still have major regrets for what I chose to do and for all the cruel things I said and did to mom, my ex’s and my kids. It’s not pretty and it’s really hard work but the reality of what I DID finally took me, and my kids, on the road to healthy relationships again. Turned out my new shrink was a Christian which really helped me in the end.

Don’t marry again UNTIL you face reality of your choices or you will have MAJOR regrets and damage yourself and others in the process like I did. Good luck.

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