How do I accept my divorce for what it is?
September 26, 2011 7:12 AM   Subscribe

Now my divorce is really happening, how do I learn to accept this is the way its going to be now?

I recently split up with my ex husband. We were together for a total of 3.5 years, married 2 years after first meeting and we split up 1.5 years after marriage, last November/Dec. I married young at the age of 24 and our romance was a complete whirlwind and we both experienced a deep affinity and love for one another.

It's been very difficult to move on, we both inflicted awful and unnecessary pain on each other for little good reason. It's been a real self discovery process and I am still struggling to let go inside.

Everyday I feel the pain of what I did to him. I also know that I was miserable in many ways. Ten years my senior, my ex-husband had little qualifications apart from years of working in a bar and I worried incessantly about how we would survive in the future with a family. He binged drank consistently, he had very open views on sexuality to the point where I felt my values were being compromised due to our being in a semi-open relationship. He was out of work and depressed for almost 9 months and I lost my respect for him and began to treat him poorly. He also had a kind heart and was honest and generous.

The whole situation ended badly with us both lying and cheating on each other moving into new relationships with our accomplices before we gave each other a proper shot together. The actual end of our relationship was his choice although I did little to really save it due to my anger and resentment towards him. Prior to that, he was very public with his affairs and it was soul destroying for me to witness and deal with in front of friends and family even though I was with another person behind closed doors.

Despite all of this, I still feel some love for my ex. I also feel grief, guilt and pain for my part in the total destruction of our marriage.

My husband is now pushing through a divorce application very quickly. I really hoped we could come to that agreement together in a more amicable way. At this stage I am waiting for the papers to be served and my ex and I have mostly ex-communicated each other. I am trying to overcome the fact that the vows I took meant nothing and that I also let myself down.

How do I know and how can I accept that this is the right way for the divorce to happen? Is it possible to have an amicable divorce? If he wants to push it through quickly should I just accept this? The last time he spoke to me properly was at a large party where he was intoxicated and he told me how much he truly loved me. Yet he's unable to say hello when he is sober. I still think that deep down he probably loves me and wishes none of this ever happened and sometimes I feel the same. Yet due to so much water under the bridge, I feel sick to think of him as a person and us being together. Is it normal to have these thoughts?

How do I forgive myself and move on with my life?
posted by Under the Sea to Human Relations (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
How do I know and how can I accept that this is the right way for the divorce to happen?
The right way is the way that involves the least amount of time in court.

Is it possible to have an amicable divorce?

If he wants to push it through quickly should I just accept this?
Probably. What would be the advantage of prolonging it? This is your call though.

Do make sure you have a lawyer read over your papers. You sound like you don't want or need a fight, but it is a good idea to have someone who knows the legal system and is not emotionally involved on your side to protect you. A good lawyer won't start a fight, but will make sure that you have what you need.
posted by yeolcoatl at 7:29 AM on September 26, 2011 [3 favorites]

Frankly, it sounds like a toxic relationship. You need to focus on yourself. When I went through a divorce, I still deeply loved my ex despite what he had done (basically verbally abusive, which is just as damaging as physical abuse, but easier for the abuser to get away with because he can convince you that what he's saying is true). I couldn't accept what was happening and I still have trouble trusting men a few years later and haven't been in a serious relationship since. There are a few things I wish I had done differently, that may help you.

1) Cut off all contact with him except for necessary contact for legal purposes. It may feel impossible, but you won't start to heal if you're in contact.

2) Don't follow his life through social media or friends. De-friend him on Facebook. Seeing that he's happy, sad, single, having casual sex -- all of it is going to be a painful reminder of the past. You need to focus on you, the present, and the future.

3) Figure out what would make you be happy if you were going to be alone forever. This sounds odd, but really your life is about you. If you can be happy alone, you will be able to be happy on your own and find a healthy relationship that will enhance that. I've finally done this and am truly happy for the first time in years. (I'm back in school and working on my dream career path!) I don't worry about my ex, or other guys I've dated, or if I'm going to find a guy who I can be with forever. I am focusing on being the source of my own happiness.

4) Don't worry about being in a relationship. That will reinforce all of the pain. Know that you will be okay. Know that you may find a great relationship in the future. Have faith that you will recognize the right guy when he comes along.
posted by DoubleLune at 7:30 AM on September 26, 2011 [8 favorites]

Is it normal to have these thoughts?

Yes, all of this is completely normal.
posted by yeolcoatl at 7:30 AM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

It is very difficult to unlearn behaviors that you accept into the fabric of your life. That's how it is with divorce. You basically have to unlearn a bunch of things you told yourself leading up to and during the marriage.

Everything you are going through seems completely normal. Consider getting some therapy to help make sense of things and even hit up the bookstore for a book on coping with divorce (there are many good ones).

Also, if you really want to move on, don't fall in with any sort of nonsense about "remaining friends". There is no better way to be emotionally stuck in the mud than to delude yourself with thinking you can be friends with someone who, frankly, treated you shabbily. Implement a rule of "no contact" unless you share children and then talk only of the children. If you have no kids with this guy, I'd recommend never speaking to him again. It's the best way to move on.

And while it is possible to have an "amicable" divorce, everyone's definition of amicable is quite different.
posted by PsuDab93 at 7:54 AM on September 26, 2011

I just wanted to throw in that "time" resulting in recovery from the loss of trust and the end of your marriage is largely a crock of bull - it is going to be all about how you spend that time. Have you thought about grief counseling? That is the only thing making a huge difference for me in rebuilding myself and accepting what happened in my marriage.
posted by Acer_saccharum at 7:58 AM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

From what I've seen, divorces like this where you are really young, there are no children involved, and the marriage was relatively short, are not the kind of divorces that screw people up for years. You need to forgive yourself and your ex. You made a mistake. That's okay. You are human. The important thing is that you learn from your mistake.
posted by bananafish at 7:58 AM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Divorce was the most painful thing I've ever undergone. I too, married at a young age and one thing that's been very helpful is to view this first marriage as a training or demo marriage where I got a chance to make mistakes in order to avoid them in the future. My current (2nd) wife and I will be celebrating a 25th anniversary this year. I saw my ex this summer and was amazed at her rigidity and other unchanging aspects of her character, after all these years. I was extremely grateful that we didn't "try to make it work" no matter what.
posted by Xurando at 8:22 AM on September 26, 2011

Best answer: Honey. This sounds like a terrible relationship and I'm sorry you are so conflicted. Everything about it sounds broken. Also, it was absolutely unfixable. In your 20's, you still think the impossible is possible. By the time you reach your mid 30's, you realize succes only comes when you engage with sane and stable people, you recognize that you cannot change people or fix them - the only person you can fix or change is yourself.

Meanwhile, you are not a broken person! You dodged a huge bullet! You get to move on in life and find a man who (a) puts you first (b) respects you and shows it (c) respects himself (d) has a career and the ability to support a family with you (e) is emotionally available, which is critical for a happy family life (f) doesn't cheat on you (g) inspires honesty in you both, and (h) LOVES YOU DEEPLY.

This man is out there, and now you are available to be with him. Celebrate!

Sorry. I simply don't see a problem here.

Seek therapy and time to help you process how emotionally twisted and dark this episode in your life became. What you are feeling right now is normal. That toxic relationship was a mindfuck. It'll take some time to process, and likely the world will never look the same to you. This is a good thing. If you do this right, you will never ever have to go through something this destructive, ever again. Learn from your mistakes. In the future, endeavor to always see very charming but perpetually drunk selfish boy-men as thoroughly unattractive.

Instead, cultivate attractions with people who treat others and themselves with care and respect. Make it your goal to always look for this quality in people everywhere you go. Embody this quality in yourself. This is your new "normal" and you'll find this good stuff everywhere once you start actively pursuing it internally and externally.

There is a whole new world available to you now.

Congratulations! Come join us!!
posted by jbenben at 8:41 AM on September 26, 2011 [12 favorites]

You sound like you're blaming yourself a lot. You learn to forgive yourself by learning from it, understanding how and why you behaved the way you did. If you can understand how and why he behaved the way he did, and forgive him, you'll be better prepared for the next relationship.
posted by theora55 at 9:14 AM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Be happy that you love/loved him enough to feel a wrench now. Otherwise you'd be feeling like the time you spent together was a waste.
posted by BibiRose at 10:04 AM on September 26, 2011

jbenben pretty much nails it.

Time will take care of an awful lot, as will completely severing contact. Consider seeing a counselor to talk through some of these issues and to make sure that your grieving process continues along a healthy path.

I had a very similar and ugly experience with someone who really wanted to have a polyamorous relationship, except the part where she told me up front about that. Because I loved this person, I made the mistake of trying to work with it, to keep her in my life. I coped pretty much the way you did. Big. Mistake.

Completely cutting this person out of my life turned out to be a really great idea since every conversation we had at the end was highly toxic. Visiting a counselor to make sure my grieving process was natural and healthy was also a good idea.

In your case, a divorce is necessary, but can be short and mostly handled by an emotionally detached lawyer. Look for someone who has strong litigation experience but who does not think that litigation is the most adult way to handle things, who prefers settlement and can be relied on to be emotionally neutral. If you acquired few assets during your marriage (sounds likely), and have no kids, it should be done with a minimum of fighting, unless someone hires a lunatic.

I'm very sorry to hear you have to go through this, but you're going to get through it and in plenty of time to have a thoroughly wonderful marriage with someone more suited to you.
posted by Hylas at 10:44 AM on September 26, 2011

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