Taking the high road to ending your union.
There I was, sitting on the floor in the corner of the gym, when my best friend at the time came over to me; ready to begin our Monday morning workout.
I looked at her, tears welling in my eyes, and I said the words that began it all, “I think I want a divorce.”
I could barely breathe; in fact I could barely speak. And looking back at it now, I realize that saying these words out loud was the most difficult moment of the entire divorce.
I didn’t wake up that day and decide that I wanted a divorce; it never happens that way. The decision to divorce is one that is usually slow to develop, a slow growing disconnect from each other over time that results in distance, tension and quite often, bad behavior.
My husband and I had been in therapy for almost four years, exploring and investigating how and why our marriage wasn’t working. It was exhausting and worse, it wasn’t working. But neither one of us gave up, not because we didn’t acknowledge that it wasn’t working, but because it is painful and frightening to say these words out loud, knowing how life altering divorce is.
Saying those words out loud that Monday morning was the moment that I knew divorce would become a reality for me. I had not told our therapist, I had not told my husband, and until then, I had not actually admitted to myself. This reality took my breath away, and left me feeling more scared and alone than I had ever felt.
At the same time, those very words marked the beginning of the journey back to myself. Back to the truth of who I am and what I really want. Sitting on the floor of the gym I recognized my life was never going to be the same again. What I didn’t know then was just how massive a transition divorce really is or just how happy I would eventually be.
The ending of a marriage is far more complicated than one might imagine. More often than not the most painful part is being honest with yourself about your desire to divorce. Guilt, fear, anxiety, insecurity, and not knowing how to communicate cause most of us not only to ignore the truth of what is going on and prevent us from talking with our partner openly and honestly, but these feelings also the driving force behind infidelity and inappropriate, self-sabotaging behavior.
At the same time, how you make a decision to divorce will set the tone for how the divorce plays out and will become the foundation for your new life after divorce.
The decision to divorce does not have to diminish the importance of your marriage, and it shouldn’t.
I recognize that by the time you arrive at the desire to divorce, things have probably happened in your marriage that have caused pain, that feelings have been hurt and that the trust between you may well have been compromised. I can assure you that whatever the situation, you are both suffering.
In every divorce, there are two participants; two versions of what happened; what went wrong. Honoring the relationship and marriage that you shared by acting with integrity and honor will give each of you the opportunity to move forward in the best possible way; especially if you will need to continue your relationship as co-parents. And, even if your spouse chooses a different approach, you still have the choice to take the high road.
If you are contemplating divorce, here are my three recommendations for making the decision with intention.
1. Be Honest: It is hard to be honest about the decision to divorce, especially when our truth will hurt someone or cause pain; fear takes over and so we avoid it at all costs, waiting and hoping for something to change. Unfortunately, the truth of how we feel doesn’t ever go away. And if we ignore it, we run the risk of doing something that will have unintended consequences. Perhaps we will find ourselves crossing the line into an inappropriate relationship. Or perhaps we will act in a way that is reckless and unsafe. What you may not know is that the pain of being honest and speaking your truth, will always be better than the pain caused by trying to ignore it. We are adults, and part of being responsible adults (and parents) is learning to live and communicate honestly, and with kindness.
2. Get Support: There are many ways to communicate how you feel and what you want, no matter how scared you are. Learning how to communicate around the decision to divorce requires getting good support. Support from someone with the skills to help you find a way to open the subject with clarity, kindness, compassion and courage. As well, divorce is complicated; and complex. While it is an extremely emotional decision and process, it is also a significant legal and financial transition. Part of making the decision to divorce is to educate yourself; gathering the information and skills you will need to move through the process with clarity and control.
3. There are Consequences: Far too often we do not accept responsibility for the choices we make; the choice of how we speak, act and behave. Because the decision to divorce is so frightening, we often arm ourselves with anger and defiance in an effort to fuel our courage and give us the strength we need to actually do it. But, there are always consequences. If we speak with anger, confrontation and judgment, we can expect a defensive, even angrier response. If you choose to have an affair, you will get caught at some point down the road, and you can expect the divorce to be far more hostile and difficult than if you had initiated it prior to engaging in an inappropriate relationship. It is unfair to act surprised or victimized when your choices result in appropriate and expected consequences.
Choosing to divorce is not enjoyable. Nor is it easy, fun or meant to be taken lightly. It is a personal, private decision; and one that deserves to be handled with care and consideration. It is between you and your spouse; and will have a far better outcome when approached as jointly as possible.
They say that what happens in a marriage is sacred, and I believe that same holds true for divorce.
Laura Campbell is the CEO of the D Spot, blog, an Extraordinary Love Strategist, and Divorce Expert. She works exclusively with extraordinary women to find extraordinary love. The women she serves are passionate about creating the life and love they imagine, during and after divorce. Through the D Spot she is dedicated to helping women regroup, renew and reinvent themselves through the continuum of the divorce process and as they design and move forward in their new lives. Her passion and true life purpose is to educate, inspire and empower women to strategically create the life that they envision and deserve. Through her proprietary “Love Readiness Assessment”, she guides women through a process of both preparing for and setting the foundation for attracting and sustaining effortless and extraordinary love; and integrating it into their real and dynamic lives. She is an author, speaker, blogger, coach and ROCKIN’ mom of two teenage boys! Follow Laura on twitter!~
Editor: Lori Lothian