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Divorce Dialogues: 'We Had Compassion for Each Other'

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Guest blogger Kate Meyers: Alex K. was married at 24 and divorced after four years. He dated his second wife for seven years before they tied the knot. They have been married for 11 years and have two daughters, ages 7 and 4.

couple sitting in the couch
momlogic: Why did you get divorced? 
Alex K.: I think explaining why I got married might help. I met my first wife in late 1988. Two winters before, my father had died. That summer, my brother died of cancer -- and in the fall, my best friend from college died unexpectedly. It was a strange time, and this remarkable and wonderful and warm person came into my life. I needed someone in my life, and I needed something long-term. We moved abroad because I got a job over there, and she left her job to move with me. I think the move was hard on her -- but interestingly, she still lives there. We started separating ideologically, and then started separating emotionally because of that. It was much more intellectual than anything else. 

ml: Was the actual divorce difficult?
AK: The divorce was very amicable. We agreed that we loved each other, but that we shouldn't be married to each other. We got the divorce in four months. 

ml: What was the hardest part for you? 
AK: The reality of it. It felt very final. And for me, the hardest thing is saying goodbye to people. It scared me and scared her a lot. I felt humiliated by it, like I had to apologize to people for it.   

ml: Based on your experience, is there any advice you'd like to give? 
AK: I was trying to find a way to forgive anything that had happened -- and by that I mean accepting and understanding. That's a really hard thing to do, but the first thing I had to do was figure out what I had done wrong myself and see my responsibility in it. In our case, it helped me absorb all that had happened. I read a book by Stephen Mitchell, "The Gospel According to Jesus," and there was a part in it about why Jesus was so forgiving and how forgiveness is an important component to finding truth. That book -- plus really good blues music -- helped a lot at the time.   

ml: What was the best thing to come out of your divorce? 
AK: We didn't belong together. It was a reality, and the best thing was that we didn't move forward and ignore what the reality was. She was the brave one and said, 'Let's separate,' and it ended up being great for me. We were going in different directions and our vectors were never going to get closer. And we had compassion for each other, because we loved each other. But that gets truly tested.  

ml: How did being divorced affect you emotionally, at first?
AK: It made it harder when I was dating the woman who is now my wife, because she was clearly in love with me early on and I didn't want to toy with those emotions. Because of my experience, I had a much different feeling about reacting to strong emotions compulsively. As we got closer, I kept pushing back. It took a long time, because I wanted us to take the time and I saw what happened to me when I didn't. The funny thing is, when I married my [second] wife, it felt like waiting helped us grow together, and it made our marriage a special ceremony. It reaffirmed something we had built, as opposed to celebrating something we wanted to do.

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