“Sarene had never married — it was illogical to believe two people could remain compatible for a lifetime …” (Robert Jordan, Lord of Chaos, pg. 489).
Even if you know that your person and you will both change over time, the reality is that you don’t get married expecting a divorce.
Unfortunately, sometimes that’s the way things shake out.
Even though I had noticed some incompatibilities between my husband and me over the years, it was a shock to me when he asked for a divorce. I felt hurt and betrayed and a number of other emotions.
But those feelings didn’t stop me from deciding that it was important to learn how to divorce like an adult.
Let it out and let it go.
You don’t have to bottle everything up when you divorce like an adult. I cried every morning for two weeks. One day, I lost it and went on a rage-fueled, profanity-laden tirade at my husband. That was the least adult interaction we had, and he was gracious through it all, letting me get it out and apologizing that his choices put us in this situation. (Our son was nowhere near, which was important.)
After letting it all out that time, I realized that I also had to let go. Let go of the hurt and anger and sadness, and replace it with purpose. It’s not always easy, even months later. Sometimes I feel angry or upset, but I acknowledge those feelings and let them go. And I look around and realize that I have a pretty great life right now.
Being angry doesn’t help anyone, and it holds me back. Plus, it’s not healthy for my son to live with me if I’m negative. Letting go is one of the most important things you can when you are ready to divorce like an adult.
Your kids and friends aren’t bargaining chips.
It’s tempting to bring the kids and friends into the situation. This is a terrible thing to do to the people you love. Your kids need love and support — and they need to see a united front. Even when you are divorced, you still need to coparent. Unless there is actual abuse involved (and you need to do what it takes to protect them), your children will be better off if you both act like grown-ups and are kind to each other.
My ex and I consult on major purchases related to my son. I’m not buying him a laptop until I discuss it with my ex, and we regularly talk about consequences, and school, and other parenting issues. Staying on the same page keeps the kids from playing you off of one another and helps them see that you can handle the situation like healthy adults.
The same is true of your friends. Don’t make them pick sides. And don’t pump them for info about your ex.
Keep calm and communicate.
Other than The Incident, my ex and I talked calmly throughout the entire process, even doing our research to figure out how to divorce in the most cost-efficient manner.
It helps that we are both reasonable, grown-ass adults who aren’t trying to destroy other people’s lives. We sat down and talked through what would be the best way for us both to get a fresh start. We were calm when talking about the issues, and when one of us started feeling stressed about it, we took a break to regroup.
Dragging it out and trying to “stick it” to the other person doesn’t help anyone. The only people that benefit are the lawyers. We saved money on the divorce by divvying everything up on our own, and acknowledging that we were both working toward the goal of a good start. Do I sometimes wish that my ex’s desire for divorce didn’t come with the current results? Sure. Am I going to try to ruin his life? Nope.
I’ve got better things to do. Like get on with my own life.
Can you remain on good terms?
Learning how to divorce like an adult isn’t just about settling it like grownups and moving on. If you don’t have any of the same friends or you don’t have children together, you may never have to see your former S.O. again. And that’s cool if that’s the way you want it.
But I’ve got a child with my ex, and I have relationships with members of his family because we were married for 13½ years. So he’s part of my life. Permanently.
Actually, we’re pretty good friends. We text and talk regularly. Our relationship is the best it’s been in probably three years. Over Christmas, when I went to collect my son after holiday time with dad, we got together with his parents and had dinner. Like normal families do. We also planned a pretty kick-ass family vacation (just the three of us) to New York in July.
Divorce doesn’t have to be toxic and drama-filled. It doesn’t mean that it will be all unicorns and rainbows, but it also doesn’t have to turn your life into a pit of despair.