Making the decision to leave a marriage, whether it is your choice or the other person’s is not easy either way. Adding external stresses and thoughts to an already difficult life event does not help. Here are the things I learned during my divorce and my tips on how you can get through it with your sanity intact.
Not everyone will agree with your reasons
A divorce involves only two people. You and your ex. No one else lived in your home and experienced the things that you both did, so no one else has the right to comment or judge. To the outside world, your ex-husband may have been the greatest guy, but only you know how you felt in the marriage. They weren’t in your bed, so get their opinions out of your head.
People will tell you to get back with your ex
For years after I split, one friend would compare any guy I met, with my ex. It frustrated me to constantly be reminded of the past that I was trying so hard to walk away from. I would get questioned if I wanted to get back with him. If I was trying to replace him. Just because I am able to communicate peacefully with him, does not mean that I want him. There was a reason we came to this humongous decision to split. It was not an overnight decision, it took me years to gather the strength to walk away and it is a path that I do not plan to go back down on.
Put your ego aside
There are still many days when I cry and feel hopeless. Not because I want my ex back at all. But because I want to blame my ex for the life I’m living now. Alone and isolated, away from family, in a city and a country that I truly can’t stand. But that would also be unfair since I chose to move here for him and I also did some things to lead to an unhealthy marriage. I do not feel the blame can be split in half, one person may be more at fault, but I also cannot say that I was perfect. Marriage is hard. It is even harder if you are with someone who does not match your outlook on life or share the dreams and values that you hold dear. But that doesn’t make them evil. I can now appreciate that my ex is a human being and has his flaws just like I do. But he’s entitled to his opinion and views on life. You can’t point fingers at someone without looking at yourself in the mirror first. Don’t go around town bad mouthing him.
People will judge how you raise your children
If children are involved in the divorce, then it adds a whole extra level of stress and trauma to an already difficult experience. All you can do is trust your gut that you are doing the right thing to raise your child and preferably work together with your ex to ensure that your children have the least painful experience possible. They didn’t ask for their parents to be living in two homes, so the least you can do is communicate peacefully with your ex for the sake of your children. My son is a happy little boy with bright eyes and a wide smile. He embraces life with joy and passion and I think it is because he sees that his Dad and I are not at each other’s throats. If we disagree on something, we talk about it when he is not around and I am quick to tell him that Daddy and I are friends, even if I do not always feel that way. This involves digging back into the acting skills you learned in your high school class. Put on a mask for the sake of your kids and do not complain about your ex in front of them. It simply isn’t fair to the little ones to be brought into the mess. If I were to ever hear anyone speaking ill of my ex, I would be the first one to defend him for the sake of my son. Despite my efforts to love and protect my son, I have still been called a bad Mom, selfish and that I am ruining my son’s life by not staying married. It has weighed heavily on my mind and has led to many a sleepless, tear-filled night. But in my heart, I know I made the right decision.
You will be forever bound to your ex if you have a child
Remove yourself from the relationship you had with your ex and try to see him as a father. Was he a good Dad? Did he provide for the children emotionally and financially? If the answer is yes, then why take on a personal vendetta against him and use the kids as pawns to get back at him for something that he may have done unintentionally or intentionally to harm you? Whether he cheated, was neglectful or just unloving to you, does not mean he does not love his children. Pull yourself away and take a close look at the relationship he has with his kids. Obviously if abuse was involved, then you have a right to protect your children, but if it was just that you did not see eye to eye, it is not fair to cut him off from a relationship with his kids.
There will still be ups and downs with your ex
There will be days where you will dislike him, when memories crop up about the pain you experienced while being married. There will be many days you feel he ruined your life. Feel the emotions and try to move past them to see that you are now in a better place without him and the past is gone and if possible sit down with him and discuss what the best way is to move forward on your own separate paths.
Society will judge you
Being South Asian means that we have our parents, sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, pretty much the entire community surrounding you, judging, questioning and snooping for reasons as to what happened. Some may be well intentioned, others just want to gossip. There is also the stress of eventually finding another life partner if you choose to and explaining to his family what happened and why you are not some used woman that has been left on the shelf to collect dust.
Be gentle on yourself and to your ex. This is a difficult process. Many people think I am weak, a push over because I didn’t fight him for full custody of our son. I automatically assumed we would share custody. I never thought twice about it. This has made it hard for me in some ways because now I need to consult him on everything, but at least I know my son has a Dad that loves him. I also didn’t fight him for one penny. Many people said I should have stripped him dry, taken everything he has. How would that benefit me or my son? If I had taken his money, maybe that would have satisfied my ego for about two seconds, but after that, he would have had nothing and that in turn would have harmed our son. I believed that he would care for our son financially in his own ways and several years after parting ways, I can safely say he has continued to do so. This depends on your ex and how involved he was prior to the split. It is also important for you to display kindness if that is a trait you want your children to inherit.
Fake it till you make it
Life shouldn’t be over after a divorce, but some days it certainly feels like it. You are at a crossroads, wondering which route to take. Every single day is a battle against the outside strains and voices. In the end, it is necessary for your mental strength, to just go with your gut and do what feels right for you. Because at the end of the day the outsiders and their opinions aren’t what is going to get your bills paid, put food on the table for your children and keep you warm at night. And here is the good news. If you can look at your past marriage as an outsider and dig into some of the reasons it failed, it will help you to be a better partner to whoever you meet in the future and it will also help you to really narrow in on the type of person you want to be and the type of man you want to attract, which will hopefully lead to a happier life down the road, even if right now everything seems dark and scary.