Life is full of tough decisions. We are constantly making choices that will affect how we live. Some will turn out to be great decisions, and some will be mistakes. And, even some decisions that we realize weren’t right can have positives, as well. That includes divorce. Deciding whether to get divorced is one of the hardest decisions you will ever make. It’s painful and seems terrifying and sad at the same time. If you’re at that point, here’s some advice.
Let’s start with your decision to get married. When you decided to get married, you were most likely young, or maybe this is a second marriage for you and you were older. Regardless of age, you felt immense love and excitement for your future partner, so at the time, the decision seemed natural.
When talking to a young person, I always give this advice: Think long and hard before you get engaged, because the person you marry is going to shape THE REST of your entire life. It could determine what you do professionally (in a way), it will shape your family life, it will determine how many children you have or don’t have, and it will have a huge effect on how you end up financially.
I tell young people to look at the person’s family. Look at the dad. In many cases, your husband is going to become his dad. Look at the mom. If she’s a heavy drinker, her daughter might end up that way, too. Not always, but something to think about.
Look at the future, not just right now. AND look at the past. Look at how the person was raised, and look at how their relationships are with their family and their siblings. A good friend of mine once said, “If he’s rude to his mother EVER, dump him now!” That’s good advice!
So, to those of you who are divorced, if you are thinking about getting into a second marriage to someone, you have another chance before you make one of life’s biggest decisions (again!)
Now onto deciding whether to get divorced:
I want to make something clear. Divorced Girl Smiling does not promote divorce. I am 100% in favor of marriage. I absolutely LOVE the institution, and when I see people married and happy, it makes me very happy. The purpose of Divorced Girl Smiling is not to celebrate divorce, but to help men and women have a better life after they’ve been dealt the divorce card.
Deciding whether to get divorced was the hardest, worst, horrifically difficult back and forth decision I have ever made. The thought of it makes me want to throw up, because I remember my ex and I going back and forth desperately trying to work it out before both realizing separating was the best thing.
There are so many factors to consider: 1. Love and loss. 2. Children. 3. Finances 4. The house. 5. Individual happiness. 6. Trust. 7. Loyalty. 8. Health. 9. Work. 10. Freedom. 11. Conflict. 12. Addiction. 13. Independence. 14. Wellness. 15. Likeability. 16. Friendship.
There are a million things that fall into these categories.
I remember my therapist at the time saying that there is no right or wrong time to get divorced. Some people throw in the towel quicker than others, some get back together and break up 15 times before it’s all said and done, and some stay miserable in the marriage because they come to the conclusion that that is their best option. She told me never to judge anyone for any decision they make and she was right.
When I knew our divorce was really going to happen, I can remember sitting in her office and just sobbing. She said to me, “I’m not going to talk. Just sit here with me and cry for a little while.”
And I did. And there was nothing else to do. The decision had been made.
But I will always remember it as the hardest decision I’ve ever had so far in my life. I was scared, confused, angry, sad, edgy, hurt, depressed, but in a small way, excited for a new life that had so many unknowns ahead. And guilty for feeling that way!
A friend of mine said to me when he heard I was getting divorced, “Well, if you stayed, you know what you are going to get. Is the unknown better than the known? If you can answer that question with a yes, you did the right thing.”
Married women sometimes approach me and say, “Boy, you’re so lucky. I want a divorce.” This is what I tell all of them: If you want to get divorced because you think you can find someone better, then don’t do it. If someone told you that you’ll never meet anyone else, and you will be alone forever if you get divorced, and you STILL want to get divorced, then you are doing the right thing. You can’t get divorced to “upgrade.” It doesn’t work. Try to fix what you have.
But if there are deal breakers, and you absolutely know there’s no fixing the problems, and you are sure you cannot partner any longer with the person, then leaving could be for you. But go into it knowing there are no guarantees that you will meet someone else (although dating after divorce at 50 can be wonderful).
I’m not trying to be negative, just realistic. Are you most likely going to find love again? Sure, if you work on yourself, and then put yourself out there and go about it in the right way. But you shouldn’t even be thinking about someone else when making the decision to get divorced.
I want to close with what I think is really good advice: Once you make the decision to really get divorced, (and you mean it this time), don’t second guess yourself. Listen to your gut and have confidence in your decision. Because we can talk ourselves in or out of anything and facing divorce is scary, so you might decide to rationalize staying. Knowing that divorce isn’t an easy journey, stick to the decision of knowing you are doing what’s best for you and your kids, and that once you get through it, life will be so much better and happier.
By the way, here are the two easiest decisions I ever made in life:
1. The decision to have kids.
2. The decision to start Divorced Girl Smiling.