10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Ended My Marriage
As my marriage was ending, I felt like I was waking up every day getting hit by a freight train. I’m not even talking about all the crazy logistics that I knew would be waiting for me once my husband and I decided to call it quits. Looking back, I sometimes think, “Well, if I had only known what to expect, maybe it would have been less terrible.”
Everyone’s marriage is different, but a lot of the feelings can be the same. If you are petrified about what’s in store for as you agonize over whether to leave the marriage, here’s a sneak peek at the range of feelings I experienced, not so you will fear them, but rather so you can accept and prepare for the heart wrenching journey should you decide to end your marriage.
The emotions described below are not forever. This will not be your new ‘life’. However, it is important for you to understand what you will experience during the initial time period so you can validate what you feel and steel yourself for a tough, sad, draining process.
1) You will doubt and lie to yourself all the time, especially at the beginning.
You’ll be so afraid of the unknown that you’ll start to play the bargaining game. You know it well because you’ve played it before. It goes along the lines of “Yes, I’m miserable and it’s been a while since I’ve been happy– but at least I’m comfortable. We really shouldn’t split; what would happen to the kids, the finances, our way of life?”
You will try to convince yourself that you can keep living like this, although in your heart of hearts you know it isn’t true. Know that you are bargaining with yourself and lying to yourself because you are scared. Know this is normal, but it is not an excuse to stay miserable.
2) The rollercoaster you feel when the decision is made to separate is unlike anything you have experienced.
Do not despair—it may cause you anxiety, but will not harm you. Even if you don’t know it yet, there is a weight that will slowly start to ease from your shoulders—the same weight that you denied was crushing you all this time when you tried to convince yourself that nothing was wrong.
3) Get ready for your self-esteem to shatter.
You will convince yourself that nobody will ever love or want you again. The temptation will be great to latch on to the first person who pays attention to you. Resist this trap, even if it’s been ages since you’ve felt romance and intimacy. You must work on yourself first and be okay with being alone so that you have a chance to heal.
4) You’ll get exhausted from putting on the happy face and telling everyone—and yourself— that you’re fine.
You need a support system: a therapist, a support group, family/good friends. Whatever avenue(s) you choose, it must accomplish things: a safe place for venting, and you must be able to learn how to cope in a healthy manner.
5) Get ready to feel like you’re getting sprayed with an industrial firehose.
Your list of obligations regarding emotions, finances, legal issues, custody, and other logistics will bury you and you will feel paralyzed. Understand that splitting is a process, and you don’t have to do everything at once.
Like any process, there are things for immediate attention, things for a little bit later, and things further down the road. Divorce is a marathon that will require patience and persistence. Save yourself ahead of time by accepting that this may take a while. And that’s okay.
6) You will have no control over your spouse’s behavior, no matter how angry he or she makes you.
For serious offenses (threatening your safety and well-being), you must absolutely take action.
Yet, for other things that won’t endanger you but enrage you, take a step back. It may seem like the ex-to-be is doing whatever possible to make you miserable. Don’t play the game. Although you cannot control your partner’s behavior, you control your reactions.
7) You may make decisions based on emotion rather than logic.
It is critical to remember that divorce is a business transaction—dividing the assets and debts and then continuing your life as an individual. Your head will understand, but the part of you that is hurt may spend months fighting over things that have nothing to do with business.
Choose your battles wisely; remember that nobody wins in divorce. You will need to learn when to fight and when to let go. If you don’t, you will find yourself robbed of time, money, and emotional energy—assets that are put to better use in your post-divorce life.
8) You may find yourself in unfamiliar situations.
Perhaps you are re-entering the workforce. Your budget may be tight. The children may have trouble adjusting. Friends and family may treat you differently. Understand that you are not alone in these struggles, and that help is available. Do not allow this discomfort to make you bitter, or drive you into hiding.
9) There will be times that you wallow in self-pity and despair.
You will say to yourself, “My life was not supposed to be like this.” This is part of the grieving process. You will accept that circumstances changed, and you will learn how move on. You must learn that you are not a prisoner to those circumstances, and that you have the opportunity to emerge from this split a stronger person.
10) You will learn that your divorce presents you with a choice.
You can choose to let anger and fear control you, or you can choose the path that takes more work. You can choose to ask for assistance and support, educate yourself about the divorce process, and give yourself credit for having the ability to get through this, which you will.
All of these crazy emotional things will happen, but if you are unhappy then the process may be necessary. There is ‘the other side’ after all of this. Sometimes, you need to walk through the fire to that ‘other side’–which is happiness. And, because you have walked through the fire, you will be forged, unbreakable. You are strong enough to make it through whatever you decide. The choice is yours.
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Author Bio Martha Bodyfelt is a divorce coach whose website, Surviving Your Split, teaches women recovering from divorce how to overcome the pain and beat the stress so they can get their lives back. For your free Divorce Goddess Recovery Kit, stop by survivingyoursplit.com. You can also her on Facebook or stop by and say hello at firstname.lastname@example.org.