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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
C.C.B. August 21, 2010, 4:36 AM

I didn’t know the medications could have been making me so disconnected to feelings about my Ex, and kids, back then. U R right, I am having angry moments and blaming others. I see now I hurt a lot of people back then. What a mess. I have loads to work out before I marry again. Thx.

I am also going through the religion doubts. Your viewpoint gives me something to think about.

Just say'n August 28, 2010, 4:43 AM


“Be Willing to persevere and uncover the lost treasures
that first drew you and your spouse together.

No marriage is trouble free.
Life isn’t trouble free.
Love isn’t trouble free.”

Comment on book above... August 28, 2010, 7:36 AM

“Is there really such a thing as a good divorce ? Determined to uncover the truth, Elizabeth Marquardt herself a child of divorce conducted, with Professor Norval Glenn, a pioneering national study of children of divorce….In Between Two Worlds, she weaves the findings of that study together with powerful, unsentimental stories of the childhoods of young people from divorced families.

The hard truth, she says, is that while divorce is sometimes necessary, even amicable divorces sow lasting inner conflict in the lives of children. When a family breaks in two, children who stay in touch with both parents must travel between two worlds, trying alone to reconcile their parents often strikingly different beliefs, values, and ways of living. Authoritative, beautifully written, and alive with the voices of men and women whose lives were changed by divorce, Marquardt s book is essential reading for anyone who grew up between two worlds.

Makes a persuasive case against the culture of casual divorce.”
Washington Post

Sheila August 28, 2010, 10:29 AM

The lifelong heartache my kids would really be experiencing was what I wish I had known BEFORE I left without really trying to fix the marriage.

Everyone who is thinking of divorcing, did divorce and their family members need to read this book to know what your kids will be or are going through.

“Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce”

Mary August 29, 2010, 10:29 AM

I think many people, women and men alike, believe that love is something that just occurs from a feeling that suddenly comes over them. For anyone who has been married, we know love is both a noun, the feeling, and a verb, the actions you take because you feel that way. The noun part is the feeling you have when you are in the same room with that person, when you touch or think about them. The verb part is actually work; successful love is only possible when both partners know that love as a verb is very action oriented. This is true in the beginning of a relationship or after many years together. If you aren’t consistently action oriented with your love for someone, it will not be there.

Divorces are decisions made by either one or both to stop working on love. One of my favorite lines from a movie, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, is “Love is what is left over after being in love has burned away.” When you love someone, you should be aware that you are making a choice to take action with your love in the best interest of your partner. Love is not self-serving; it is a shared experience so both need to be fully committed to maintaining that love indefinitely. Unfortunately, in most cases we let our egos, and sometimes just laziness, complicate things and we choose to stop acting on our love, even when one person has maintained their commitment to love.

If more people understood that love is a choice, we’d have fewer divorces and more happy couples. If everyone would choose to invest in love, they could have it and keep it. Hopefully one day I will find a man that understands that life and love are about choices, and each decision has consequences - good or bad. Love is a choice to take action and put another’s needs before your own. Many parents understand this and they choose to exercise their love for their children unconditionally, but don’t consider that a spouse needs the same devotion. Loving a spouse is always harder than loving a child. Choose to love both and you will have the reward of a lifetime.

Mindy Erikson

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