I am divorced. In fact, I've been divorced for so long that I don't identify as Divorced, so much as I identify as In A Relationship. I've been with W for so long though, that it's like we're married.
It wasn't always this way. I remember a time when my divorce was fresh. I don't remember the details of my divorce, really, but I do vividly remember the reaction that I got from others during and immediately following my divorce. What's reminded me about the responses that I got, and what has me writing about it tonight, is that so many people I know are getting divorced right now. I wanted them to know that they are not alone, that they will get through it, and have a life following their divorce.
While I won't get into the private details of my split, I will say that my husband and I separated when my son was about 3 years old. There wasn't anything horrible that caused it; the marriage just sort of crumbled. Today, my ex is married to a woman who is perfect for him, and wonderful to my son. She was made for him. Our divorce, ultimately, benefited him. It is the same for me. W and I got together shortly after our divorces, and after many years together, my son now has two sisters and I have found my soul mate.
Having said that, even the best divorces aren't easy. Friends feel that they have to choose sides (they don't) and the dividing spouses wonder who gets who in the divorce. There is property, usually, to split up, sell, or do something with. If their are children, there are custody issues to deal with, where the kids go, with who, and when.
When there is a horrible incident that caused the divorce, like cheating, or when one person wants out and the other doesn't, the pain of the divorce is much greater. Healing that pain, and dealing with all of the other basic things that life requires, can feel nearly insurmountable. I assure you, it's not. I've seen friends go through the most dreadful of circumstances and come out the other side much stronger.
I was divorced before my son was in preschool, and meeting people as a divorced mother of a four year old wasn't easy. People judged me and made comments, both to my face and behind my back. It surprised me, since divorce has become so common. But to the marrieds around me, it was like my divorce was contagious. I can tell you that I specifically remember being out with four couples one night. I was newly dating W, and they began asking us when we'd get married, talking about how great their marriages were, and how they'd never get divorced. Yuck, divorce! No way. I'd never do it! Not even if I hated my husband. Literally all four couples are now divorced. (I cannot get into detail, as I wish to protect these friends' identities, but each story is as unexpectedly disruptive as the next.) Hearing of each of their splits surprised me. Ironically, they didn't surprise W. Regardless, nobody wants to see a marriage end.
I have learned a lot in these past years. I have learned that commitment and love go hand in hand, and require tending. Communication is very important, as is honesty and trust. It's so important to talk through things, and to hang in when things get tough. Surviving really tough moments, celebrating special times, both together are what make for a strong relationship.
Expecting it to be like a RomCom, though, sets everyone up for failure. Each relationship is different and what works for you is just that; What works for you. When it's good, it feels safe and comforting, and when that happens, it's important to go the extra mile to make it work.
For now, to those of you going through divorce, just take it slow. Breathe. Allow the process to occur. The first year may surprise you. It takes you to this place where you just do things you'd never normally do. I know that my first year had me tripping from one bad choice to the next. Mistake after mistake. But I learned a lot (and thankfully, survived it all) and those mistakes helped me recognize a good thing when it fell into my lap. TW