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Divorce Dialogues: 'I Tried Everything'

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Guest blogger Kate Meyers:Jade is a 52-year-old working mother with three children. She married at 26 and her marriage lasted 22 years. Her oldest, a son, was a senior in high school the year that she and her first husband divorced. Her daughters were then 16 and 11. She has been divorced three and a half years and remarried in July, 2010.

couple arguing
momlogic: Why did you get divorced?

Jade: Because I felt that my husband was not my partner and I was looking to spend the rest of my life with someone who I considered my partner. Nobody knows this, but we had separated probably seven years into our marriage. I pretty much always felt that I carried most of the load of our marriage, and for a while it was OK, but it never really equalized. My parents always told me that marriage is about compromising, but finally it felt like I was compromising myself away. And I decided I couldn't be happy. I felt like 22 years was a pretty good shot at it. I tried everything I possibly could. When I decided that I couldn't be with this person as my lifetime partner, I decided, "I deserve to be happy, and I'm going to move toward that."

ml: What was the hardest part about the decision?

J: I don't know that there was ONE hardest part. First, there was coming to the realization that the marriage didn't work and I wasn't happy and I had to make a change, not knowing what the implications would be. Following that, how difficult it was for my children, even though they understood why we got divorced. But seeing how my actions changed their lives, and the incredible sadness I felt for a long, long time .... It wasn't the same family, and the sadness of taking 25 years of your life and moving on ... the sadness of changing your life. But sadness is a lot different than regret.

ml: When did you know that you were going to be OK?

J: When I fell in love with my now-husband and I realized for sure that yes, this can be different. I totally feel happy from my head to my toes being with this person. As far as my kids, it's still evolving. It's hard to separate sometimes what is coming from the divorce and what is just part of their growing up. I think after my older daughter lived just with her dad for a while, and then decided it was important that I be in her life ... that was a very big moment for us. That year was the hardest thing -- holding my ground as a parent and not giving in to whatever they wanted. I wanted her to be with me, but it had to be within reason, and I think she realized, when she came back around, that I loved her just as much. When my youngest daughter went through some similar problems, I knew she'd get it because of my experience with my older daughter. I am much stricter than their dad, and ultimately I think they realized they needed both of us.

ml: What was the agreement about the kids?

J: We had agreed that we would alternate weeks -- one week they'd be with me, and one week they'd be with him. Now there's only my youngest left at home, and we're trying two weeks on, two weeks off. That first year, when my oldest said she wanted to be with her dad, I felt that I needed to let her have some independence and make some decisions on her own. If she had been younger, I wouldn't have allowed it, but I knew she was safe and loved and getting to school, and those were the criteria that I felt needed to be met. I decided to give her flexibility, and ultimately she came around. We live in a small city, so I was never far away.

ml: What was the biggest challenge?

J: How confused my girls were, and how hurt they were. And when I met my now-husband, their reaction was tough -- though not surprising. I could tell that they liked him but felt that they weren't being faithful to their father if they liked him too much, so they tried to shut him out. It didn't help that their dad portrayed himself -- and still does -- as the victim. Now it's a different story, and I think that has a lot to do with the passage of time. They can tell that he cares about them and he's easy to get along with.

ml: What have you learned from all this?

J: I learned that each day I had to put one foot in front of the other, but I couldn't rush the process. I had to live through the really challenging time and the sadness to get to the other side and the happiness. My oldest daughter is a freshman in college, and she's pretty homesick and I give her the same advice.

ml: What's the best part of having gone through this experience?

J: My happiness, and the lessons that I've learned. I'm much more conscientious in my daily life. I'm so much more content and at ease than I ever was. A lot of it has to do with me feeling good about me and where I am and who I am. I knew that marriages went in cycles, and I wasn't miserable; I just could tell I wasn't as happy as I could be. I never could see that end of the rainbow. Conversely, there were many, many times when I thought that if I were alone I would be happier, and that was a scary conversation to have with myself. I just didn't feel like I was getting anything back. This sounds kind of tacky, but I remember thinking, "What value did he add to my life?" Now people will look at me all the time and say, "Wow, you look really happy." And I think it's so interesting that it manifests itself physically. I feel good and I can project into the future that I'm going to feel good. I know I have the right partner to share my life with, and I feel like whatever challenges come up, I have the right person next to me to help. Through this process, I have thought a lot about other people and if they only knew how happy they could be .... And really, I thank God that I had the courage to try for happiness.

next: Brant & Seymour Work It Out, but What of Their Kids?
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