Wedding vows are a central part of most wedding ceremonies. Perhaps more than the legalities, it is these vows and our beliefs in marriage that make ending a marriage so hard. They’re what make us believe that divorce is not an option.
Today I’d like to introduce you to Molly who writes the blog, Postcards from a Peaceful Divorce. Don’t be fooled by the blog title. Molly would be the first to tell you that her relationship with her ex while close is not conflict-free. However, it was the concept of a “Peaceful Divorce” that made me want to talk to her. It’s so different from what is generally portrayed and just as my last guest, Judy said, we open ourselves up to new possibilities when we share stories like this.
Molly was with her husband for thirteen years and they split up just over four years ago when their two children were aged five and three and Molly was forty. Molly didn’t want a divorce, she still loved her husband and wanted desperately to hold on. Divorce was not an option. Here’s Molly:
The love never died, so I just felt like we really loved each other. I hate to say this, but when we were in grad school, before we had kids, our relationship was really, really great. I think I held on to that vision of how much I loved him.
Also my parents have been married forty-nine years and to me, divorce was never an option, never even an option. Never something I would in a million years consider. I thought it was for people who gave up. It just wasn’t something I was willing to consider at all.
When he said,
“I can’t do this anymore. I can’t stop being angry. I can’t find a way to change our dynamic and I feel like I need to leave,”
my first response was,
“How could you do this to our family? How could you do this to me?”
I didn’t see it as having any possible positive aspect to it. I just was,
“No, this would be devastating to us on so many levels.”
I remember the month and a half he was living here and looking for apartments. That was a tough time and I kept coming up with new reasons why he should stay and he just kept saying,
“No, no, I have to do this. I have to do this.”
I also underestimated the amount of stress that the conflict in our marriage and the toll that it was taking on me. You sort of accept it day by day by day until you realize you’re carrying this big burden.
I also took it like “there’s not anything I can’t handle. I can do this. I can handle this stress” but once he left I realized how much better I felt. It was pretty instantaneous and that surprised me.
At some point pretty quickly after he left, I gave up the struggle and I said
“I can’t do this. He left, he swears that it’s not a trial separation, he says he’s gone. I’m feeling better, I need to just let it go and move on with my life.”
Once I started looking for the positive aspects of the divorce and seeing a few of them, it became more and more evident and magnified how many benefits there were.
Like Molly, I didn’t even consider divorce as an option for a number of years but once I started to believe that the dynamic between my husband and I was not going to change, it became clear to me that it was indeed an option and a very viable one at that. I can’t say that I wish I’d considered it sooner – I probably wouldn’t have been ready any earlier to accept that our marriage needed to end. However, I am surprised how easy it was for me to dismiss the idea without even knowing much about it. What I did know about divorce was based largely on media portrayals. So my advice to someone facing marital challenges today would be a balanced approached. Absolutely try marriage counseling but also talk to people about divorce and their experience.
The ending of my marriage involved nine months of discussions during which time we were still living together. Our discussions weren’t loud, angry shouting matches but they seemed to be long, draining, painful circuitous conversations each night over dinner. When my husband finally moved out, the relief was instant. The atmosphere in the house changed immediately and the stress in my shoulders dissolved. For the first time in a long time, I could come home and relax and just be.