Thinking About Divorce? Fantasy vs. Reality

You say you want out of your marriage. Your life feels lonely, boring, stagnant, full of tension and disappointment. You’re envious of your divorced friends’ freedom. Their lives seem so exciting and passionate. Even dating looks like fun.

Is the grass truly greener on the other side?

Often, when we want something badly, we don’t take time to consider all the realities of the situation. Then when they hit, we’re taken by surprise. If you take some time to anticipate what your future will look like, you’ll be less likely to be haunted by thoughts of “if I only knew then what I know now…”

Before you make a move to end your marriage, talk to those divorced friends – the ones whose lives look so free and exciting. Learn from their experiences. Encourage them to talk about the sweeping changes divorce has brought to their lives. In particular, ask them:

  • Was divorce worth it?
  • Is it all you thought it would be?
  • What do you dislike most about divorce?
  • What were the biggest losses you faced?
  • Are you truly better off now?
  • Even if the kids have adjusted, how happy are they really?

If your friends are being honest with you, chances are they’ll bring up:

The impact on the children. For most families, this goes beyond inconvenience. Kids feel acutely the loss of the security that married parents offer. They struggle to cope with the constant transitions and conflicting loyalties. Sometimes they have to watch one or both parents intentionally try to hurt the other.

The financial implications of two homes. Running a household costs much more than many people realize. There’s health insurance, kids’ activities, pets, unexpected repairs. One person will likely be faced with a significantly lower standard of living than before, which can breed resentment.

The loss of friends and in-laws. This is when you learn who your true friends are. Couples you’ve known for years may grow distant or even drop you altogether. It can become a challenge to stay close to in-laws you once enjoyed. And let’s face it: your spouse’s friends will probably not be part of your future.

The loss of family. For many people, this is the saddest aspect of divorce. It’s definitely the one I feel the most. Holidays, birthdays, and vacations all seem different. Even though I have a wonderful new relationship, sometimes I miss the way things used to be. And if we adults feel the loss of our former family structure, what must kids go through?

The difficulty of co-parenting. It’s not unusual for one parent to take on the greater responsibility of parenting, while the other parent becomes “the fun one.” One parent is the Monday morning quarterback, while the other one resents being on the front line. This can happen even to married couples, but it becomes much more likely when you’re living apart.

The logistical nightmares. You may never want to see your ex-spouse again, but if you have kids, you need to be able to work together. Who will attend sporting events? Who handles illnesses, vacations, birthday parties? What if your ex wants to travel with a new flame and leave the kids with you? Or worse, take them along, to be cared for by someone you’ve never met?

The continued anger, hurt, and disappointment. It’s all too easy to find yourself spending endless hours trying to figure out who or what caused the breakdown of your marriage. Even years later, divorce frequently leaves behind a bitter aftertaste.

My point is: no one wins in a divorce. Is your marriage really so awful that you’re willing to endure the above consequences? Could you try to fix your marriage and save your family? True, it may not be possible. But by considering all your options, you will have taken that “what if” off the table for everyone.

If divorce is unavoidable for you, then use this post as a map of the hurdles you can expect. Your divorced friends survived, and you will, too. Just do it as well as you can.

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