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After 15 years of marriage and three beautiful children, I decided it was time to call it quits.
Mind you, it did not happen overnight. It took years in the making to get to that point. I wanted to save my marriage, and tried everything to stay together, but eventually I came to the realization that we just could not go on like this—something had to change.
We went to therapy and read all the books, but nothing seemed to help. I was no longer happy and hadn’t been for a long time. My heart was in pain and my soul, little by little, was getting broken.
I loved my husband, but I did not want to be his wife anymore. I wanted to be free, to feel joy and happiness, and to find myself again. I no longer knew who I was. For the past 15 years, I was a wife, a worker, a friend, a colleague, and a mom, and I lost myself in the process. At 43 years old, I did not know who I was anymore, even though I knew that I no longer was that 27 year old who married the man of her dreams.
Did I really want a divorce? Was I ready to be the person who breaks the family apart? Of course not, I was not ready for that at all. I was scared of what a divorce would mean and bring into my life and into my children’s lives.
Should I stay married for the sake of our family so my kids could have a mom and a dad together? I thought about it for a long time, until that day, after another fight, it hit me. What I am truly doing to my children by staying in a marriage that is no longer working? What am I really teaching them? I was teaching them that it was okay to be unkind to each other and worst of all, I was teaching them that it was okay to take it. And I could not do that to them.
This was the moment, I knew that I had to stop our marriage.
Yes, I wanted a divorce, that I was certain of, but how? I was scared of the fighting and the hurt it could bring to our family, and I did not want that. The divorces around me were ugly and destructive. Families were torn apart and the parents hated each other. This is not what I wanted. I wanted to be happy again, and having an angry ex-husband and shattered kids would not bring the happiness I was longing for.
I wanted a beautiful divorce.
I wanted to divorce my husband, but I did not want to fight. My marriage to him was over, but I also knew that my relationship with him would never be over, not with children. We had to change from being a married couple to being a parenting team.
The kids loved their daddy, and I would not be a party to destroying him in their eyes. I wanted my children to still have an amazing relationship with their dad; I wanted them to see him the way I saw him years ago. I wanted him to be the best daddy he could be.
Whether divorced or married, our family would always be my children’s family. And I wanted to still love him. Not be in love with him, but love him. He was my family, the father of my children, the person whom I shared the most beautiful beings with. I did not want him out of my life.
While the drive for a happy life gave me the strength and courage to move forward with the idea of divorce, I still had difficult questions to answer:
What do my children need from me so they can grow strong and happy?
What are the values I want to teach them?
Who do I need to be now to support them?
How can we team up to care, love, and be there for them, even with a divorce?
How am I going to make it financially?
Where will we live?
How will I be able to feed my kids?
What do I need to create this new life?
Of course, I was terrified. While I wanted to believe that we could make it work, I also knew there was a chance that it could become nasty, just like most divorces we had witnessed.
It took me a few months to be sure and to build the strength and courage to finally start the divorce process. I knew it was going to be one of the most challenging times of my life, and I needed to be ready for it. I had to be strong emotionally, physically, mentally, and financially to make it happen.
I wanted the fights to stop, to live apart, but still be there for each other. I wanted us to stay a family. I believed that I would be able to love him again as a person, if we were no longer together. I wanted what most would say was the impossible—I wanted that beautiful divorce.
Our family was already drained from all the resentments, the fights, and the constant tension. I longed for peace. I longed for a life filled with love again.
I believed that the impossible could become possible, and that we could transform what everyone expected to be ugly, hurtful, and destructive into a respectful, kind, caring, and supportive relationship. That became my vision. I took the lead and was going to make it happen.
I needed to somehow create a bubble, a safe space around me. I needed silence and peace inside my head and my heart—so I could find the strength not to fight back and to react aggressively, as we did in the past.
I would have liked to point a finger at him, and to let him know how much he had hurt me. But we had to stop that destructive cycle. It didn’t matter anymore who did what and who hurt whom or who wanted the divorce. All of the hurting was part of the marriage, and our marriage was over. A new chapter was beginning—and I wanted a beautiful, divorced life.
I held the torch of that vision for him, for our children, our friends, our families, his girlfriends, and for me. I was committed to have a divorce where we still could be a family no matter what.
It’s now been five years since we split and my ex-husband is remarried. We are getting along quite well, we are a parent team for the children, and we all are happy. I can say that we have a healthier relationship today than when we were married. Children, at the end of the day, don’t really care if their parents sleep in the same bed, but they care that they both are on the same team for them, and that is what we are.
We are parents and always will be.
~ For more, check out my book A Family No Matter What.