Journey Through Divorce
When you’ve been married for 24 years, you know when things aren’t right in your relationship. There were strange numbers on the telephone bill and unusual charges on the credit card statements. There were absences from home by my husband for evenings, hours on the weekend, and sometimes overnight. There were always excuses, lies, and disappointments.
The problems started many years before. It wasn’t all his fault. I focused on my work, on my kids, anything but him. We were different. I was ambitious and intense. I wanted to work hard, get ahead and save money. He wanted to have fun. When he started drinking too much and lying to cover everything, I lost respect. That was the beginning of the end.
I didn’t want the marriage to be over. We met when I was just 18 and we were a couple for the next 30 years. I am Christian, have two children, I didn’t want a broken home. But I also didn’t want to work on the marriage. That would mean dealing with my own issues and then there was the drinking and that lack of respect. I probably never would have left him. He had to leave me.
When my husband moved out, that was the first time I had ever lived alone. Even then I wasn’t really alone as I had two kids living with me, but I felt alone. Suddenly the whole world was part of a couple relationship and I was the only one who had no one. I was a freak! I sank into deep depression. I cried buckets of tears and gave myself therapy with exercise and self-help books. I jeopardized my job and alienated my children. My family tried to be supportive, but I’m sure they thought I was nuts. I was convinced that no one else would ever want me again. I was pathetic!
I eventually came through it. I grieved for two years. Then I started dating. I began to look forward to things again, little by little. In five years, I was married again. In looking back, I know I made some major mistakes and I’d like to share those things with you, hoping to make it easier for someone else.
One of the biggest thing I learned: Don’t ever take your relationship for granted. You should never stop working on it. How to do that? Keep it fresh; mix things up by doing different things together. Create new experiences and make new memories. This will keep things interesting and your relationship from getting stale. Make it a priority. Mothers often focus more on the kids than on their husbands. This is dangerous. You need to find balance. Work on being a better person. It will make you a better spouse and a better parent. It will make you worthy of respect. If your spouse is not worthy of respect, there is a lot that you can do to validate him or her. A little encouragement and kind attention from you will help him or her to “raise the bar”.
If you believe in God, keep Him at the center of your relationship. Then if the marriage does fail, you will have your faith to sustain you. Another big thing I learned: If your marriage is over, focus on your children, instead of trying to find a new partner. The last thing your kids want is a stepparent in the house. I thought it would help with finances and parenting. It did help the finances, but parenting in a divorce is still your responsibility. Bringing in a new housemate may drive your children away from you and often destroys the original parent-child relationship. It’s a very big chance to take. Remember, your children are in pain too. They especially need your love and attention right after a separation. Concentrate on keeping that relationship with them strong and healthy. Don’t say anything derogatory about your spouse to them. Don’t forget they still love the missing parent, often more than ever as he or she is not around all the time. This advice is “key” and will save you much grief as your children grow up.
I was fortunate. My new husband is a jewel. But there were problems, especially over the issue of parenting. My daughter found friends that were a bad influence. Her teen years were extremely hard for her and on my new marriage. She was so unhappy and I felt so much guilt. But we all came through it. She graduated from college at 20 and has her own successful business now. I’m very proud of her. My husband and I have been married for eight years. He’s stuck by me and our relationship is solid. The biggest thing I learned: “this too shall pass”. Things will get better. You will come through it too.