When Michelle talked about making a conscious decision to be happy and not to play into the drama of her ex dating the mother of her daughter’s friend, I wanted to know more about how she was able to do that without ignoring her feelings. Was it just a process of rationalizing the decisions she’d made? Was she intentionally stifling her feelings and could they rear up in the future? And how about her ex? It didn’t sound like he was fulfilled in the marriage and yet he didn’t want the divorce. Did he ever get to the point of agreeing the divorce was a good decision? Here’s Michelle:
[contemplate1] One of my reasons for wanting to end the marriage was obviously my own happiness, but I look at it and think,
I don’t love this guy, and he deserves to be loved just as much as I do. I could stay here and stick it out but that’s not fair to him, it’s not fair to either of us. I need to let him go too, I need to let him have a chance to go find someone that really loves him and makes him happy. I’m not making him any happier than he’s making me.
It’s been really cool. The first Thanksgiving after we separated, I posted on Facebook, that I was really grateful for the relationship I have with him and that he was a great father and friend and co-parent. It was a public acknowledgment of him and that felt really good to me because I have been really, really lucky. I’ve read a lot of stuff on this blog and I know that a lot of people have nightmare stories. I can totally understand if there’s already somebody else in the picture, it could be so painful. There’s a lot of hurt and that’s a lot harder to get over and be peaceful around.
So I’m fortunate that I didn’t have that situation. But still, it’s a little weird when he has a new person in the picture and I don’t. I don’t have a relationship, so not letting my feelings get in the way is something that has made me feel stronger as a person, has made me feel like it’s a gift I’ve been able to give my kids.
I have those days where I’m like, “Wow, he sure didn’t have any problem replacing me” or sometimes my daughter will say it is a little hard for her that his girlfriend is the parent of a good friend of hers, so she doesn’t always want to spend a lot of time with them.
I’m not stuffing my feelings in a box, and there have been times where I’ve lashed out at him. I have actually had moments where something’s triggered me and I’ve gone off on him about something, but then the next day I’ve recognized that it was my stuff and I’ve apologized to him. Just said, “Hey, you know what, sorry, yesterday I was feeling defensive about this and I was feeling fearful about that and it’s really not you, it’s me.” It’s really helped our communication, in a way that we never could communicate when we were married.
He and I had uncomfortable conversation that when were driving our kids to summer camp just this last summer. Since we split up, I’ve changed my life direction quite a bit. I’ve got into coaching, I started writing a blog, I started being pretty public about some of my own experiences, my eating disorder experience, my marriage experience, my coaching website has a lot of my personal website on there, really about how unhappy I was for so many years and what it took for me to take steps to turn it around.
I asked him, “Have you read any of my stuff?” because at one point he said that he’d heard about my blog. I really make a point to never say anything negative about him. If anything, I take responsibility like, “Here’s where I contributed to the breakdown of my marriage,” but friends would tell him about it. He said that he did read a little bit of my website and he had to stop because it made him sad, or upset him and I asked why.
He said, “Well, I didn’t realize our life was such a train wreck.” I said, “Well, I tried to tell you. I tried so many times to tell you that I was unhappy and what you’d say was ‘maybe you should just go find another guy.’”
It was hard for me. I couldn’t feel bad for him that he felt bad about reading it because I had tried to tell him, but he didn’t seem to want to hear it. I think he knew that things were bad, but I just don’t think he ever thought that I would do anything about it, or he just didn’t really think it would get to the point that it would change. But now, he says, “It seems like you’re happier, I’m happier, it seems like this is the best decision” and he says it in a way that I think he’s being sincere.
Allowing yourself to feel your emotions is a key part to your healing. There are no invalid emotions. You have to acknowledge them all. Even the ugly, mean, unflattering, selfish ones. If you’re feeling hurt because your ex has moved on quickly, then say you’re feeling hurt and ask yourself why? Focus on you and don’t fall into the trap of trying to guess why he/she might be behaving that way. Then, as Michelle did, you can make an intentional choice over how you will behave. If you try to ignore your emotions you won’t get to the deeper learning of your experience.
I get frustrated when I hear or read questions like, “Who filed for divorce?” Who initiated the divorce?” “Whose choice was it?” because I don’t understand the point of the question. Sometimes I think the asker is trying to somehow laying blame or fault. Sometimes, I think they’re trying to figure out what to say next because if you filed for divorce that must mean you wanted it, it was your choice and so somehow, that means it’s all OK with you.
Who filed for divorce simply means the person who started the legal process and we shouldn’t read any more into that action than that. And I look at the person who said, “I want a divorce,” as the one who had the courage to change the status quo and frequently the other spouse is not in agreement with the decision at the time. I’ve read that some 80 percent of divorces are decided unilaterally – I don’t know the source of that statistic but it seems plausible. I’m curious of these, what percentage of spouses end up agreeing that the divorce was the best decision. Jolene ended up being friends with her ex for a while – they didn’t have children together and have drifted apart now. Kristen is another guest who talked about her decision to end their marriage even though her husband didn’t want to divorce.
I initiated my divorce and it wasn’t what my husband wanted to do. I haven’t had a conversation with him about how he feels about it now. I’ve talked before about how I thought that having that conversation might bring some closure – my dating coach advised me to look for closure from within and that seeking the conversation may not bring the validation for which I was looking. So I haven’t asked. I don’t know if he reads my blog but I have to admit I am still curious …
If you initiated your divorce, do you know how your ex feels about the decision now? Are you curious? If your ex made the decision, how do you feel now? Would you like to talk to him/her about it?
Photo credit: emma.buckley