When she lost her child at the shops, she never expected this to happen
Kellie Turtu of Mama Pyjama is this week’s winner of iBlog Friday with her post…read more
In Australia around one third of marriages end in divorce and while it is often awful and heartbreaking when it happens there are some things you should know
You're going to hear a lot of people telling you that you're taking the easy way out and that you should suck up all the hurt and sadness because you took vows or because it's better for the kids. Ignore them. It takes a huge amount of courage to stand up and demand a better life for yourself, your kids, and, yes, even your ex. Making a change is always harder than sticking with the status quo, so be proud of yourself.
As for the kids: They deserve to have happy parents who can actually be present for them - and they deserve the chance to see what a healthy relationship looks like so they have a shot at having one someday, too.
When it's time to tell the kids, share the news together. Try not to demean or blame each other. And if it's within your means, get advice ahead of time from a therapist. How the children react will, of course, depend on their age and temperament, but be prepared for anger, tears, screaming or even silence. They may blame one of you outright (rightly or wrongly). They may blame themselves (the hardest). And if they're older toddlers or young preschoolers, there's a good chance they're not going to get it right away. Which means you'll have some version of this conversation again and again.
You'll ask them why they never said anything before. They'll say, 'Oh, you know, I didn't feel like it was my place,' or 'I didn't think it would change anything…you were so in love with him.' Both may be perfectly true, but having this information now isn't helpful or supportive. Feel free to say as much.
Obviously, you enter every relationship with your friends and his friends, and when you split, your people go with you. What's harder is dealing with friendships you genuinely shared. For a while, you may still see each other solo, but as time goes on, some of those relationships will fade. Divorce makes people uncomfortable, and sometimes, it's easier for them not to be around it. As unfair as that is and as hard as it may be to let go, it may be for the best. Surround yourself with people can see you for you - divorce and all.
The trigger could be anything: A family walking down the street. A pregnant woman. A co-worker announcing her engagement. Or the fact that the dumb cable people are three hours late and why can't something just go right?! Go ahead and let it out. You'll feel better. And look, there are some things you might just not feel like doing for a while, especially if it involves celebrating someone's marriage or baby. Try to go anyway. Yes, you'll need to put your game face on but your friends, who've been there for you, still need you there for them.
Divorce comes with a tremendous amount of guilt, and it's going to be very, very easy to blame yourself for, well, pretty much everything. Number one: It's not all your fault. Nobody chooses the end a marriage unless they've wrung their heart dry with trying. So as you move forward and try to take care of everything and everyone else, remember to take care of yourself. Spend time with friends. Go for walks. Splurge on a spa day. And if you're really struggling, don't hesitate to see a therapist. Getting a totally objective point of view can be incredibly validating and reassuring.
And then you'll all get used to the new normal. Whether you opt for 50/50 custody or a more traditional see-Dad-on-the-weekend schedule, there are going to be days in your week when you don't get to put your child to bed or be there to wake him up. (Some clueless people will say, 'Oh, but at least you get a built-in break!' Once again, ignore them. This is not the way you hoped to get a break from your kids.) You'll miss them and the house will feel empty, but after a while 'The Roster' simply becomes Life.
Without even realising it, your vibe is going to change. You may be out with a few friends and suddenly find yourself talking with a guy. And flirting. And depending on how many drinks you've had, perhaps making out like a couple of teenagers. Yes, you of the two kids and minivan and 'broken marriage.' And why not?. Go out on lots of dates. Be responsible and safe, but have fun and enjoy the attention.
There's something altogether different about post-divorce sex. For one, especially when you're dating or in a new relationship, it can be hot with a capital H. The newness, the freedom, the excitement of being with a person you're really attracted to can make for some serious stuff. But what's also different is that for, perhaps for the first time...or at least the first time in a long time...you get to be in charge of your sex life. And that confidence allows you to connect deeply with a new partner - and with yourself in a whole new way.
You'll get through all the big stuff - telling the kids, someone moving out, taking off your rings, packing away the wedding pictures, signing the papers (each their own kind of hell) - and think, 'Okay, it's finally over.' But then you miss the first family event with your former in-laws or your child spends his first holiday without you. You'll have to catch your breath all over again. When you marry someone, you can't help but imagine decades of events and moments that you'll share together and as a family. So it's only natural that you'll mourn them when they're gone. Give yourself a little space to take it in and then let it go. You're already creating new memories and new traditions - and this new branch of your family history will be just as rich and full as you'd hoped.
You will fall in love again, and when you do you'll have the chance to do things differently. Never made sex a priority before? You will now. Used to constantly fight over money? You'll find a better way to communicate. As much as divorce is an ending, it's a beginning, too. It's a chance to have the life you hoped for - but in order to get it, you need to understand past mistakes and take the steps to avoid them again.
Your children do not need to know that you're splitting up because their father was getting some action on the side (or that you were). But they do need to know that you're both very sad. That sometimes when people spend a long time together they change and they stop feeling happy around each other. And when that happens, the best thing to do is to live apart. Explain the process of what's happened, and don't be afraid to share your emotions with your kids. Seeing you handle those difficult feelings will help them do the same.
But you can't do it. Ever. No matter what your ex did in your marriage, your kids are going to love him. Period. Making snide remarks about whatever aggravating thing he just did doesn’t help them. Or you. It causes confusion, pain and more heartache than they need. The goal now is to present as united a front as possible, and you can’t do that if you're constantly tearing him down.
Even if you treat their father with nothing but respect in their presence, there's a chance that at some point, the kids are going to point fingers. They may overhear something or jump to a conclusion or just misunderstand. All you can do is gently correct the facts, remind them that you love them no matter what, and do your best not to take it personally. Children go through their own grieving- and sorting-out process and this is just part of it.
Once you have a little distance, you'll be able to look back at your relationship and see it for what it was. You'll be shocked at what you accepted as 'just part of being married.' But here's thing: Marriages fall apart slowly. You accept one small thing and then another and then another. You keep trying and hoping things will get better until the moment arrives when you know it won't. And only then can you make a change.
You have to talk. A lot. You have to listen to each other. Calmly. You need to make decisions. Unanimously. In other words, you have to have the skills that were probably sorely lacking in your marriage. Knowing you're both working for the best interest of your kids will help, but if you're getting nowhere, it can be smart to consider co-parenting counseling. Kids who have parents who can cooperate adjust much, much better to their new environment - if you can't do it on your own, you owe it to them to learn how.
Unless you happened to be married to a millionaire, there's a good chance your standard of living will drop a bit. You may have to downsize to smaller home or use precious savings to cover legal bills. If you were a full-time stay-at-home mum, you may have to go back to work. Do your best to keep an eye on your budget, but also try to remember that for most people the added financial pressures don't last forever. With a little diligence, you'll get back on solid ground.
There's an ebb and flow to healing. You move forward only to circle back and leap ahead again. One day, probably sooner than you imagine possible, you'll reach the moment when you know the life you have now is the one you've been waiting for. Spend some time there. You deserve it.
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