10 THINGS YOUR MOTHER NEVER TOLD YOU ABOUT DIVORCEBy Vicki
The Voice of
For anyone who hasn't been divorced, trust me divorce
is never what you imagine it to be. Here are a few insights
that may hopefully save you a trip to court or at
the very least, give you some idea of what may lie ahead.
I know the 10 things listed here might not apply to everybody
(there's always going to be the exception to the rule)
but it covers most of us.
1. It Takes Longer To Get Your Divorce Behind Than You
Think. Or Can Allow Yourself To Believe.
I thought I had it together after a year. Then I thought
I had it together after 3 years. Then I was impressed
when I could say I had been divorced 5 years. Then I was
devastated that I could be brought to tears in seconds
after 8 years when something inappropriate I thought
was said to me. I guess it's always "there"
but fortunately with each passing year it feels longer
ago, less important and more comfortable but unlike your
child's owies, it's never quite all gone. As that old
saying goes, marriage may not be forever, but divorce
2. Going Through Divorce Is A Physical Experience.
This one took me by surprise. My body seemed to experience
a death defying whirlpool. I hate speed, roller coasters
and the feeling of one's stomach dropping when on a turbulent
airplane ride. But I can remember having all those feelings
simultaneously while just sitting in a chair after
we separated. Yuck! Fortunately this usually passes in
3 to 9 months. Shorter than than #1 but not short enough!
3. It Never Works Out According To Plan Yours,
And even when it does, it's only for a short time. Life
after divorce is always changing and you won't have a
lot of control over those changes. We often get hopelessly
caught up in parenting plans when we first separate, and
while that is important it doesn't usually prepare
you for the on-going changes and negotiations that go
on for years changes that you don't always like
but learn to live with.
There is the on going trade-off of which battles will
catch your children in the middle and when one must learn
to lose a battle to win the war or should I say
the peace the peace of mind your children need.
Life takes twists and turns that will never be in the
"plan" so you must learn to go with the flow
or be hopelessly mired in your own anger or disappointments.
4. Parental Time (aka custody) And Shared Financial Responsibility
(aka child support) Are NOT Tied Together
Though they might be tied together in the eyes of your
mother or your mother-in-law, these are two separate issues.
When you confuse them or make them cause-and-effect items,
you do a squeeze on your kids.
It seems like such a natural ("if he doesn't pay
support on time, well then the kids just won't be ready
on time or at all" or "I'll be damned if I'm
going to send a check this month if she and her honey
are going on a ski trip: a) with the kids (that's not
what I'm sending support for and I'll not see them this
weekend like I was supposed to) or b) without the kids
(she's away and I have all these extra food bills this
week with the kids here) but this is not a life situation
where each month comes to an EVEN tally. EVEN it never
is. Equitable is the best you can hope for. Marriage isn't
EVEN so divorce sure ain't gonna be.
5. You Never Outgrow Your Wish To Be The Favored Parent
Remember when your kids asked you who you loved best,
you knew what a silly (but honest) question it was because
everyone likes being first in the hearts of those they
love. Unfortunately in a divorce, when parents aren't
together to hear news in a shared situation, your child
will tell one before the other.
It doesn't mean you're the less favored, secondary or
unfavorite parent but it sure does feels like it. So you
have to learn to forgive yourself when those competitive
feelings crop up from the dark depths of your soul and
learn to laugh at them. Remember you're not alone.
6. Divorce Doesn't "Fix" Your Ex
If your former spouse was cheap, never on time and thoughtless
before the divorce, he or she will continue to be tight,
late and say stupid things in the divorce. The things
that you tolerated in marriage under the perfume of love
will infuriate you in divorce. You thought you were done
with putting up with "_____" (fill in the blank)
but it continues just like it was in your marriage. You
have to learn to accept, overlook and forgive or else
you are going to expend a lot of wasted emotions on someone
you're not even married to. You can only be angry or hate
someone you care about. (Ain't that a bummer!)
Also, your lawyer can't make your ex-spouse be a sensitive
person or parent so don't waste unnecessary dollars trying
to have your lawyer get "through" to him or
her. When you can begin to replace the word "wrong"
pertains to parenting skills, money values, personal habits,
etc, etc, etc) with the word "different" you'll
have come a long way towards acceptance.
7. Divorce, Unlike Marriage, Is FOREVER When There Are
Unless you really wish to lose your position as a parent
(which is THE hardest on kids), you will have family occasions,
graduations, shared holidays, christenings, weddings and
funerals that will continually bring you together over
the years. Those knots in your stomach at shared public
events especially in the beginning are known
only to others who have been through divorce. No one else
has a clue.
Approaching your ex first with a friendly word at such
events puts everyone else at ease and is a worthwhile
practice. And with practice and some history
you may find those stomach knots actually loosening. Mortal
enemies have been known to actually become friends
sometimes good friends and many find they can be
kind of comfortable "cousins."
8. If You Don't Hate Your Exiting Spouse When You First
Separate, You Will Within 3 Months to 3 Years
It's next to impossible to skip this one though it always
seems to come as a surprise. Why, I'm not sure. Now you
both have different agendas and no way will your priorities
(usually money concerns or kid issues) be the same as
It's okay and sometimes even important
to be angry with your ex (for a certain amount of time
not forever) but it's not okay to share or show that anger
with your children or in front of your children. Not easy,
but for their mental health, their need for a safe haven
and their need to love both parents, you've got to keep
these volatile feelings to yourself...or limit them to
your therapist or support group.
9. The Day Your Ex Remarries Is REALLY PAINFUL.
The only thing worst than hearing your ex is remarrying
from a third party is actually hearing the news from your
ex. Obviously a no-win situation. No matter how glad you
are that your ex is your ex, you'd never take him/her
back and you're thankful you're divorced, it's still a
painful time. It's that last nail in the coffin of what
was once your marriage and your hopes and your dreams.
If you know anyone whose ex is getting remarried, don't
let them spend that day alone. And if you know your ex
is getting remarried, don't spend it by yourself
unless you really enjoy digging a dark hole and crawling
into it. (Obviously the kids will be attending the wedding
and unsure of how to be of comfort to or deal with the
10. After All This, Know That There Is Still Such a Thing
As A GOOD DIVORCE
Yes, you read that line correctly. Now this is not to
be confused with divorce is good, but there are ways of
turning this lemon into lemonade. Read up on how to do
it. There are lots of books to help you even I've
written one. Making peace with life's changes is good
for you, for your kids and for your life. Divorce is not
the path to be recommended easily, but it's not a terminal
illness or a contagious disease either.
I did not come up with the term "good divorce."
I'll credit that to Constance Ahrons, author of the book,
The Good Divorce. "
A good divorce," she says, "is not an oxymoron.
Astonishingly, in my studies, I found half the divorcing
couples we interviewed had civilized and many amicable
relations with each other. Another surprise was that almost
everybody wished to be on better terms with his or her
ex even the ones who had bad relationships.
I'm tired of the doomsday reports and the label of the
`broken home.' We have been so inundated with negative
stories of divorce that men and women need to hear the
message that they can make their families work better,
minimize stress and not feel like total failures.
In a good divorce, a family with children remains a family
one that is sufficiently cooperative to permit kinship
bonds to continue. Perhaps if we begin to revise our expectations
of what divorce means, all parents who divorce can do
so with civility and respect."
Bio and more articles by Vicki