I divorced my husband and now he’s everything I wanted.He’s doing everything I asked him to do, literally for years. Everything from mounting the flat screen TV on my wall to leaving the house in decent clothes that weren’t stained or full of holes, to quitting drinking due to his admitted alcoholism (which was the ultimate reason for my leaving). He quit cold turkey, is doing yoga with his girlfriend, dresses MUCH better and lost 40 lbs. I want him to be happy because he was always an angry person but goddammit, I had to rip my family apart for it.
I’m sorry to hear about your divorce and the obviously messy process that got you there. Dealing with a spouse who has a substance abuse issue is extremely complex. Your husband likely suffers from emotional health issues that lead to his alcoholism.
I’m not a therapist however, I’ve seen enough to observe that when emotional health issues surface (in your husband’s case as alcoholism), they are the result of a lifetime of factors. Just as it took a lifetime to implode, it will be a lifelong battle for him to overcome.
The good news is that he is trying to control now what he couldn’t control before. I would imagine that as part of his recovery he is learning to take responsibility for past failings (although not sure if he has apologized to you for anything. I hope he has). But it’s likely that his newfound helpfulness is a way for him to make amends.
Advice for “I divorced my husband…”
It often takes a catalytic event or maybe several to bring a crisis to a head – in your case divorce. Your husband likely wasn’t ready to be the person he is trying to be until now. Whatever the case, as hard as it might be for you to applaud his progress, it was perhaps much harder for him to make these changes. I doubt anyone would’ve chosen to become an alcoholic and tear his family apart.
It’s understandable that you’re feeling frustrated after you bore the brunt of all his past missteps, particularly now that someone else gets him all shiny and new.
How many times have you heard the story of the next wife getting the partner you wish you had?
It takes distance to be able to recognize our faults and work to overcome them. Perhaps it’s time for you to forgive your ex and be happy for his hard work and all the positive changes he’s made.
Which brings me to your situation. No matter how much your ex ruined your family, in order for you to move forward, I suggest taking some time to figure out your own responsibility for the breakdown of the marriage. Not easy words to hear, nor an easy job to do.
The more you can take responsibility and accept that things didn’t go as planned, the more room you have for creating a better future for yourself. The more time you spend focusing on “I divorced my husband and now he’s making all these wonderful changes,” and being angry and frustrated with your ex, the less space there is for you to put positive thoughts and manifest your own fulfilling life.
A few suggestions:
1. As wonderful as it is to have a handyman on call, it’s time to call Rent-a-Husband or another handy man service.
In other words, have your kids ready to go when he arrives or pick a spot to exchange them so you won’t be tempted to ask him to change one more lightbulb that you couldn’t reach. This is a step towards independence and moving forward.
2. Practice replacing your anger and frustration against him with positive thoughts about you.
Whether through meditation or mantras or reframing, it’s time for him to move out of your head. A wise coach once recommended I stop letting my ex rent space in my head.
3. Try some coaching.
Divorce coaching or life coaching employs tools to help you move forward. There are numerous programs both online and live. Divorce Rehab by Wendy Sterling (also a Divorced Girl Smiling contributor) is one terrific example of a comprehensive program for divorce recovery.
4. Be grateful that you have an opportunity to start again.
Being grateful has been shown to change your brain. Start a gratitude journal or download a gratitude app that you use regularly. The more positive reinforcement your brain gets, the more the negative thoughts lose muster.
5. Take stock of what you’ve been through and what it took to get you where you are today.
You may still be reeling from the long process that lead you here and that’s okay. Think of the moments when you thought it couldn’t have got any worse and yet it did and you overcame.
Give yourself credit for how strong and resilient you are. What are the good things that came out of divorce process? Write them down and look at the list everyday. You’ll be amazed! When you’re able to look at the situation from a distance you will see that with every obstacle comes opportunity.
In closing, it’s understandable to feel resentment that it took you divorcing him for him to make positive changes. It can feel unjust and frustrating and cause feelings of bitterness, even jealously of another woman getting the best version of your ex.
But instead of focusing on the past, or what could have been and why things didn’t work out, think about this. The path you are on may not be the path you would’ve preferred, but nonetheless, you’re on it. So, why not embrace it? You may be surprised at what wonderful pearls you have yet to uncover if you live for today instead of yesterday or tomorrow.
Karen Bigman is the Founder & President of The Divorcierge. Karen partners with individuals faced with the myriad of emotions and tasks associated with divorce, acting as a guide and confidante, and consulting with them on how to navigate the emotional, financial and logistical issues. Karen holds a B.S.B.A. from Boston University, and M.B.A. from Columbia Business School, and an iPEC Coach Certification (CPC®). She is also a CDC® Certified Divorce Coach. Karen has been profiled in the NY Post, Financial Times and UK’s Daily Mail. The Divorcierge is global and now works with all genders.
Like this article? Check out, “Why Couldn’t He Change For Me?”