The first divorce

Suzanne’s biggest challenge and accomplishment after her divorce was succeeding as a single parent, with everything that entails. Getting married in college at twenty, meant Suzanne had never lived on her own or had sole responsibility for running a household. Yet, even with all that learning, Suzanne still says there was one thing that dominates as the most difficult task – being the first divorce in her family. Here’s Suzanne:

[contemplate1] Getting a divorce was one of the hardest things I had to do, not so much because I was scared to be by myself or that I didn’t think I could make it on my own but more because I have really strong family values.

No one in my family has ever been divorced, ever, not cousins, not uncles, not aunts, not grandparents, not anyone. I was the first one and I’m still the only one to ever be divorced.

For me, the biggest thing was to say,

“Wow, I made a mistake in choosing a partner and I’d rather be without them than live this way.”

That was probably the hardest part in getting divorced, which may sound silly to some people.

It was hard, especially those first couple of years at family functions, hard to be there and to look at everyone and say, “Yeah, I’m divorced now.”

My parents were upset when I told them. They wanted to know if we couldn’t do counseling but I was past that. I think they were more upset for my son – he’s the apple of their eye. He can do no wrong and is spoiled completely by his grandparents. I think they treat him differently from their other grandchild and it’s probably because he was their first, but I think it also has to do with they feel for bad for him because he comes from this ‘broken home.’

He loves his grandma … she doesn’t have any rules … grandma just lets him do whatever:)


A couple of thoughts on this segment:

How often have you heard the phrase “It’s too easy to get divorced.”  Do you think it is?

Maybe the legal process is easy, it certainly seemed pretty straightforward for me in Colorado but the emotional process for me was the hardest, most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do. I know exactly where Suzanne is coming from. I’ve interviewed over fifty women about their divorces and I don’t think a single person has described their divorce as emotionally easy. One of my universal truths about divorce is that it is always painful.

Being the first in your family to get divorced is hard and I think it’s hard on two fronts. Firstly, family is usually a source of role models and if no one has been divorced, then you have to look elsewhere. Life events always seem easier when there are role models and being first in the family means there’s no friendly aunt or cousin to pull you aside and support you.

The second way it’s hard is because you are teaching all your family members about divorce and how their role changes in the situation while processing the divorce yourself. They may not say it but they may be looking to you for guidance. They’ve all seen movies and news reports showing the worse sides of divorce but you could be the one to show them what a good divorce looks like, a divorce where your ex can still attend family events, where it’s OK for your family still to be friends with  your ex. It can also mean being on the receiving end of judgmental comments.

Where you the first in your family to divorce? How did your family react? Did others follow suit soon after you?

And one more thing … “broken home” is one of those phrases I’d like see banished. Children should be told or lead to think they come from a broken home simply because it is laden with negativity. In truth, the one or two homes they have after divorce may be a much healthier, happier environment for them.

This is the last post in Suzanne’s series – thank you Suzanne for sharing your story. You can keep up with Suzanne on Twitter (@ADivorcedMom ) and on her blogs about divorce, debt and finances at Care One Credit.

  • Jenn

    I can completely relate to being the first to divorce…my parents have been married forever and I felt ashamed that I had somehow failed. Also? Good point about the term “broken home”. I absolutely agree!

  • Audrey

    This is such a great story – thanks for sharing this. Divorce is very difficult for everyone involved. I have never known anyone to have had an easy divorce. I’ve been following the writings of Grace Adams at her blog, Looks Great Naked. She sure has a tough story about a husband who was addicted to sex and overcoming an affair. But her humor and message about not having your identity wrapped up in your spouse is what has kept her strong.

    • Mandy

      Thanks for visiting and for the tip on Grace’s blog – I’m off to visit her.

  • thedivorceencouragist

    Ditto on the “broken home” issue. Ban it!

    I almost laugh when I hear people say that divorce is the ‘easy way out’, because it’s far from easy (emotionally, financially, socially… even spiritually!). It’s interesting what a big role “outsiders” can play in this intensely personal matter. Family and friends have a major impact on a person’s overall process… for better or worse.

  • Jolene

    I actually don’t think divorce is “easy” to do. I always have said it’s easier to get married than divorce, at least, legally. I also don’t think it’s the easy way out, as the Divorce Encouragist notes. It’s such a hard thing to do and admit to and get through. This was a great series!

  • Sheryllalexander

    Your parents have “rules” for you (you can’t get divorced), but let their grandson “do whatever”? That’s psychotic. You realize that, right?!

  • Mandy Walker

    I don’t see it as psychotic – I think it’s quite common for grandparents to follow different rules for their children than for their grandchildren.