Experiences of finding happiness after leaving an unsatisfying marriage?
May 23, 2018 10:05 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for stories from people who made the scary leap of bailing on an unsatisfying marriage, and what happened after they did.

I have a friend currently in this situation, who is unhappy but feels that 'the devil you know is better than the devil you don't', and is afraid that if he leaves his current relationship he'll end up alone, or not find anyone more compatible. I'd like to get some feedback from people who have been in a similar place, made the choice to leave, and how they feel about making that decision.

The broad strokes: Friend in question is cishet male, around 30, Nordic in a Nordic country. Has been married since his early twenties, and his wife was his first serious relationship. No children. He admits the marriage may be a bad match, as there were issues from the beginning. He is unhappy with many aspects of the marriage, and has made efforts to discuss their issues and initiate change, but rarely does anything come of it. They have mismatched libidos, no mutual interests, and communication problems; she has trust issues and engages in some controlling behaviour, and categorically refuses couples' counselling. He is disappointed with their sex life, and on a few occasions sought sex outside the marriage.

The status: He drifts between living with the situation, primarily through ignoring it or hoping things will improve, and being frustrated/disappointed/unhappy and thinking of splitting up. His primary concerns about splitting up are:

—practical: That it would be a hassle. That it would be more expensive, and more inconvenient, to live alone or have a flatmate, and that this would cancel out the benefits of freedom. That he's grown used to her and worries he'll be lonely without someone around all the time.

—personal: He's not a social person, and worries about being alone for the rest of his life, and of not finding anyone more compatible. His confidence has taken a hit through all this and he doesn't think anyone else would want him. He also has a chronic illness (IBD) and feels this makes him less appealing to a new partner.

So what I'm looking for is personal experiences, from people who have been in a similar situation in a marriage, decided to leave that marriage, and what happened after. Were you happier after leaving your spouse? Do you regret doing it? What was it like to start dating again? How difficult was it? How did you meet people? If you could do it over again, would you?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (26 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I left my first marriage in my mid-20s and do not regret it a bit. I married the guy I had dated since my sophomore year of high school, and he was only my second boyfriend ever, so I definitely had a lot of fear. I worried I wouldn't find love again or that I wouldn't know how to date since I had so little practice and was so introverted. But at the same time I knew getting divorced was the right thing to do because we were both miserable.

Honestly? Getting divorced was incredibly freeing. I became more social, and more willing to take (safe) risks. It led me to landing my dream job because I wasn't tied down by another person. I ended up dating a lot more than I expected. I did land in a horrible, abusive relationship for a long time but remembering how I survived my divorce helped me escape that relationship as well. Now I am married again and while we do have our ups and downs, I feel like I have learned a lot along the way and am very happy to have made this journey.
posted by joan_holloway at 10:24 AM on May 23, 2018 [5 favorites]

Therapy, by himself if she wo't go. Try hard to make the marriage work; it's a lot easier to ed it when you have done this and it's a big fail. There are some downsides, but they are resolve-able. If one is ina bad marriage, leaving it can feel great. It's okay to end a marriage, but it's not clear if this is what he wants or what you want for him.
posted by theora55 at 10:36 AM on May 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've been your friend. My ex-husband and I got married young, and we were fine for about a year or two until we began realizing we didn't want the same things. There was some verbal and emotional abuse on his part. I just walked out one day, and never looked back.

It was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but for the longest time there wasn't a day that went by that I wasn't relieved and felt a sense of freedom from walking away from that marriage. Fortunately, my ex wasn't a vengeful person, and we were able to part somewhat amicably.

I leaned on one close friend and family a lot in the first year after breaking up. It's ideal and probably fairly important to have a support network while making alternate living arrangements. It's also better to live with someone initially, preferably someone with whom there's a close relationship, because in the days and months that follow you're constantly asking yourself if you did the right thing and you definitely do not want to go back on your resolve. Having someone there to keep you accountable is important. The loneliness can also be crushing, although personally, that was bearable for me because I felt so so so relieved. My confidence did take a hit, but my support network helped me realize that in many ways the relationship had held me back since we'd been married so young. It was time to discover who I actually was, and in hindsight, despite the occasional bouts of fear and uncertainty I had a great time making new friends, taking up new hobbies, moving to a city I loved for a new job, and just doing whatever I wanted. There were some bad decisions, there were many bouts of crying and wondering if my destiny was to be alone, but you know... that's a near impossible outcome.

Within a year I had a new place of my own, I graduated with my doctorate, and I had a group of friends that I liked to hang out with (my ex didn't like me to socialize too much, so I had to build a group of friends from scratch.) My first apartment where I lived alone after the break up was small, and it was old, but to this day it will be the best place I've ever lived in because it was mine. It was my sanctuary, and while it was certainly more expensive than living with my ex husband, that expense was far outweighed by the freedom and the contentment that came with not being in an unhappy marriage.

That was about ten years ago. Since then I've met and dated many wonderful and not-so-wonderful people online and in real life, even being the introvert that I am. I was in one long-term relationship of four years that didn't work out, but we're still friends. For the past five years I've been in a relationship with the father of my beautiful son, and we're very happy.

If I ever felt as unhappy in this relationship as I did before, I wouldn't hesitate to do it again, even though I'd have a child and it would be infinitely more difficult. There is no good that can come of voluntarily choosing to live an unhappy life.
posted by Everydayville at 10:41 AM on May 23, 2018 [4 favorites]

First serious relationship?
Mis-matched libidos?
No Common interests?
Controlling behavior?
Communication Problems?

I would advise your friend not to worry what the future holds... the present is pretty poopy. The relationship sounds miserable. He should leave now BEFORE children are involved and spend the next 6 months figuring out who he is on his own. The other stuff will follow - I guarantee that.

It took me a really really long time to get out of my first "proper" relationship. Things weren't even that bad, we were just incompatible, but we also were madly in love and I figured that was enough. Of course it wasn't and the relationship crumbled around me but I clung onto the fact that I thought I would never love as deeply again. He was my first everything and I didn't want to let go of that. The truth is most people don't end up with their first loves for a reason - because we have a lot to learn about what it takes to successfully love someone else. I've been with my husband now for 13 years and we are infinitely more compatible as a couple - and you can only see that once you've been through a bad relationship.

Tell your friend to focus on getting out, and in ten years he'll look back and wonder why he didn't do it sooner. There is no magic recipe as to how to leave a relationship successfully, it's unique to each couple. But it is absolutely my opinion that your friend should get out now, while there are no children, while they are both young. Why subject BOTH parties to a lifetime of misery for fear of what the future holds?

I'd rather chase a future that is unknown than commit to the future path he has laid out in front of him at present. We KNOW what that future holds and it aint pretty.
posted by JenThePro at 10:41 AM on May 23, 2018 [6 favorites]

One of my friends pointed out, after the divorce, that I seemed taller. We laughed, but she pressed it, and we went through a bunch of old photos and videos and the like, and yeah, it turned out that I'd been hunched over and clenched inward and obviously miserable, even when I was smiling, for the last couple of years there.

Yeah, it hurt to sign the papers, and parcel out the books, and sell the house, and do all the hundreds of stupid little things you have to do when you end a marriage. But if I'd stayed in the marriage, I'd still be hunched over. Even if I were smiling.

Am I happy now? Yeah, I am. But what's even better is I'm not sad.
posted by Etrigan at 10:43 AM on May 23, 2018 [22 favorites]

Tell your friend that in the US we call these "starter marriages", they're so common, and since we do not have any sort of crisis epidemic of single people in their 30s so it seems like people get better at this stuff as they get older and have some mistakes under their belt, and their subsequent relationships are better and with people that suit each other better.

But you might also want to remind your friend that he's not the only person who gets to make a decision here and it seems like there's a real good chance he's going to end up divorced whether HE does anything or not, so...maybe take advantage of being in Scandinavia and get some of that good old affordable and available therapy. At this point, whatever he does or does not decide to do, that will probably improve the situation in various ways, and it's hard to see how it could hurt except it will require him to exert some kind of effort. But he sounds miserable, and I'm pretty sure that continuing to do nothing about it is the one guaranteed way to stay miserable, where all the other options at least have potentially better outcomes.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:54 AM on May 23, 2018 [7 favorites]

Leaving my first marriage was the best thing I’ve ever done. It opened me to a whole new experience of emotional fulfillment, love and life. Soon after I left my ex-wife I found the love of my life, had two beautiful children, my career skyrocketed and I had the opportunity to finally heal from the trauma of childhood.

Being somewhat socially awkward and inexperienced, it took a mindset of self re-invention to get out there and (re)discover who I was outside of the context of my disappointing and unfulfilling marriage. It really paid off. While I know there must be exceptions based on a number of factors, generally I feel no one should be in an unhappy relationship.
posted by nandaro at 11:09 AM on May 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

I think marriage counseling is time well spent, even if the marriage ends in divorce. You learn a lot about yourself and what you want in a relationship. And the communication skills alone make it worth the investment.

That said, I believe this is a quote from Johnny Carson: "the happiest time in anyone's life is right after the first divorce". There's a lot of truth in that seemingly glib remark.
posted by she's not there at 11:12 AM on May 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

Tell your friend to leave. It Gets Better.

I was in a marriage much like his - not abusive, not horrible, but not satisfying. I left and pretty much immediately took up with the Second Mr. Rachael. Have I been happy since then? Well, let's put it this way: my entire family of origin has died in the seven years since I left the First Mr. Rachael. So, no. But I can't tell you how many times I have thanked the universe that I have been with The Second Mr. Rachael during these experiences. Sometimes it's not about happiness - it's about who's going to be beside you for the bad times, which will arrive eventually. Having the right person there makes a huge difference, and having no person at all would still be infinitely better than having the wrong person.

Tl;dr - Yes it was a pain in the ass in practical terms. Yes I am glad I did it. No regrets. (Also I was 31 at the time.)
posted by missrachael at 11:15 AM on May 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

Ten years ago I told my first husband that I wanted a divorce. We'd been in counseling for several months. Completely different priorities. He resented me for our differences. I resented him because I had unrealistic expectations too. Mismatched libidos, and the scant sex was bad. I gained a TON of weight because I was eating my feelings rather than feeling them. He did too. Nearly everything about him annoyed me, but I was wracked with guilt thinking of how to break it off, or whether I should.

But in the post I linked above, you'll see my turning point came in the form of an offhand conversation with an improv friend of mine one night after a show. He said one slightly-more-negative-than-neutral thing about my first husband, and that let me see the opening he created. I heard myself saying "He's a good guy, but not the guy for me." I didn't even mean to say it. WHERE DID THAT COME FROM? Oh, just my inner voice, finally getting to have her say. We'd been married for nine years at that point.

I never feared being alone, even though when I said the words "I feel very strongly we should end this marriage" I had terrible self-esteem and had not been kind to myself for many years. Because just knowing what I wanted was SO FREEING!

Bottom line: I broke my leg three months after we split up. It gave me months of isolation to truly be alone with my thoughts and feelings, and learn who I wanted to spend time with. I lost a ton of weight, I got strong, and I created an online dating profile. I went on dates with only a couple of people, because I found the love of my life by writing an absolutely frank profile. It wasn't love at first sight (for me), but I knew within minutes of meeting him that this was a person I wanted to spend a lot of time with. We got married 1.5 years after I told my first husband I wanted to split up. (Even though I'd said I didn't want to get married again.) I was 41 when I got married the second time. That was 2010.

I don't regret a thing. Not even the first marriage--because then I wouldn't have had all the personal growth that I obviously required to get to the point where I could be a mature, loving partner in an equitable, joyful marriage. He still makes me laugh multiple times a day. We are a great match--similar priorities, mostly the same interests. But completely different and complementary personalities. (We have no kids and never will.)

I wish your friend luck! It CAN get better--if he goes after what he wants.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 12:18 PM on May 23, 2018 [4 favorites]

He is disappointed with their sex life, and on a few occasions sought sex outside the marriage.


she has trust issues

Gee, I wonder why.

Apologies if I've misunderstood the situation, but if you're open to the possibility of taking a different tack here, have you considered that as his friend you may be uniquely positioned to let him know that it's kind of shitty to act as if it's a major personality flaw to have trouble trusting somebody who is actively betraying their trust?

Less cynically, perhaps he would be receptive to an argument pointing out not just that staying is unfruitful for him, but unfair to her. I'm assuming that despite the ongoing frustrations, he cares for her enough to consider this angle.

Wishing them both the best. This stuff is tricky.
posted by Expecto Cilantro at 12:22 PM on May 23, 2018 [23 favorites]

I was married for two years. It wasn't a terrible marriage but it also wasn't the right marriage - neither of us would have been happy had we stayed together much longer, each one not getting what they needed from the other. It was really challenging to get divorced when things weren't terrible, just headed in a direction that would have become terrible, in time. Marriage counseling just made that clearer to me. So we got divorced.

I married my best friend a few years later and have never been happier. (Plus my ex is engaged to someone who is a much better fit for him.) I would have liked to stay friends - he decided we shouldn't, which hurts - but I also understand it.

The hardest part for me was giving up the idea that we should have a shared understanding of why we split. His reasons for why he thinks we split are not what I was experiencing. It took time for me to realize it doesn't matter if we have the same narrative about what went wrong between us. What matters is it was the right decision and we are both much better off as a result.
posted by egeanin at 12:23 PM on May 23, 2018 [5 favorites]

I have a friend currently in this situation, who is unhappy but feels that 'the devil you know is better than the devil you don't', and is afraid that if he leaves his current relationship he'll end up alone

As long as I felt like Prince Charming had to be out there somewhere just waiting with bated breath for me to be free so he could swoop in to rescue me and live happily ever after, I stayed, in part because I felt that it would be a case of "new face, same old crapola." I wanted to know that the part of this bad formula that was my crap was sufficiently resolved. When I got to the point of "I would rather be alone for the rest of my life than live with this man any longer," I left.

I'm much, much happier.

I think the very fact that someone feels like they can't bear to be alone undermines the process of establishing a healthy relationship. Fear and desperation do not make for a good negotiating position. They make it really hard to have important conversations about the relationship that don't necessarily need to be hard discussions, but probably will be if you are terrified of being alone, as I was for a long time.

To be clear, I did work on myself during that time. I didn't just wait for things to change.

Also, I will add that I have been alone a long time and this is very much to my surprise. I was quite shocked that shortly after he moved out, I stopped feeling like a victim of a vampire and in constant need of emotional "blood transfusions." In my case, I think I did the right thing waiting. But there is certainly an argument to be made that many people can and should just rip the bandage off sooner rather than later, so to speak. A bad relationship can be the very reason you feel unable to stand on your own two feet. You won't know if you can or can't until you leave, so it almost always takes a bit of a leap of faith.
posted by DoreenMichele at 12:24 PM on May 23, 2018 [4 favorites]

Married in 2014, divorced in 2016, and I'm currently 34. I felt such a sense of relief when we separated and it was so freeing. I've learned a lot about myself and my sexuality that I think I had been kind of using the marriage to hide away from (because it can be scary to realize huge things about yourself, even when they're ultimately positive!)

For the first time in my life I'm dating someone I feel head over heels in love with rather than "good enough" and it is SO worth it. There was a sort of stifling comfort to staying in that marriage, but having left it I just wish I would have done so sooner. That's literally my only regret. I'm so much happier now.
posted by augustimagination at 12:56 PM on May 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

Does he want to leave, or is this something you want him to want? I've known a couple of guys who preferred to stay married because they felt it kept the women they were seeing on the side from pressing for a commitment.
posted by betweenthebars at 1:11 PM on May 23, 2018 [5 favorites]

Has been married since his early twenties, and his wife was his first serious relationship. ... worries about being alone for the rest of his life, and of not finding anyone more compatible.

My first serious relationship (hell, first intimate relationship of any kind) started when I was 30. I was much more compatible with my partner than your friend is with his wife, and we stayed together for four years. She eventually fell in love with my closest male friend and dumped me.

I spent about a year worrying about the same things your friend does; I had it easier than him in some ways because the ending of my first and only relationship had been forced on me rather than being something I had to contemplate making happen, but like him, I had a huge amount of trouble shaking the first-partner-is-only-possible-partner mindset.

That mindset didn't actually disappear for me until the night I completely unexpectedly found myself in bed with somebody else. Because first relationships (especially late first relationships) will skew your perspective that way.

So if I were able to have a conversation with your friend, I would be assuring him that as somebody who keenly remembers the sheer relief of finally having found somebody, I fully sympathise with his unwillingness to let go of what he knows he has; but that I also now know from personal experience that the whole soulmate thing is utterly bogus and Tim Minchin is completely correct, and that the longer he spends chained to somebody who doesn't respect him or even like him very much, the more of his life he's just flushing down the drain.

Because the devil you know, if she is a devil for you, is much, much, much worse for you than the wonderful woman in your future who actually actively wants to be your partner and your lover and your equal.
posted by flabdablet at 1:25 PM on May 23, 2018 [4 favorites]

He's grown used to her and worries he'll be lonely without someone around all the time.

I've never been in this situation myself but I've heard from many friends that nothing's lonelier than a loveless marriage.
posted by rada at 1:31 PM on May 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

It really struck me how lonely your friend is. And that loneliness may be making him selfish. Willing to waste the time (and biological clock?) of his wife so he doesn’t feel lonely, having multiple infedelities (relationships, prostitutes, just using other people for sex?), not wanting to live with roommates because right now he has so much freedom... The loneliness he feels can’t be solved by being in a relationship, or a string of relationships, or casual sex partners - he has to get comfortable with himself and who he is. Can you help your friend find a therapist who will help him address fulfilling his needs in a healthy way and through a healthy relationship where he doesn’t blame communication, control, and trust issues on the person he is lieing to and betraying?
posted by saucysault at 1:38 PM on May 23, 2018 [6 favorites]

I got married first time at 28, and spent a significant part of my late 30s and early 40s wondering why I was sticking it out. I have to admit that a bunch of it was pride, not wanting to "fail" at marriage. Both of our sets of parents and pretty much everyone I had known had never been divorced. Eventually, when she was working away for a few weeks at a time, it got to the point where I realised I would prefer it if she didn't come back. Our son stayed with me, as he'd been pretty much with me most of the time we were together anyway.

It wasn't particularly difficult, as although she was not particularly happy with what was happening, we still got on civilly. I think we only had one phone call where a bit of argument and anger came out. We agreed very early on to split everything (in NZ, once you've been together three years everything is split 50:50 regardless of where it came from), and we agreed not to give lawyers any of it. I put together a list on email, came up with a figure, she disagreed with some of my points and came back with another one, I suggested we split the difference, she agreed. I think that all the agreements, including childcare and the separation and divorce, came to a total legal bill of $2000 between us. So that was a win.

The freedom of single life was a bit of a revelation (even if it was not entirely bachelor-like freedom, as I had a son to look after so couldn't go out to bars or whatever). I was told without question by female friends that online dating was the only way to go, so I did. The pickings are very light for males on those sites, and I was completely open on my profile so didn't attract that much random attention. The messages I did get, though, were great. Over a period of a year or so I met three lovely women, and I am very happily married to one of those now. I can't believe how differently my life has turned out.

My marriage, though, was far far happier than your friend's sounds like. For the first five years it was pretty darned good, and for the next five it was perfectly ok.

It will certainly get better. He's very young. I would certainly do it again and should probably have done it a few years earlier in retrospect.

It's entirely possible to fall hopelessly in love like a teenager at 50. And it's much more fun, because you know what you're doing and have none of the teenage angst and uncertainty :-)
posted by tillsbury at 3:53 PM on May 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

He's grown used to her and worries he'll be lonely without someone around all the time.

Maybe he can be convinced to leave, if not for himself, at least for how cruel he's being to her. He's gaslighting her and using her as little more than a lap dog. Maybe he'll "grow used" to roommates and he won't have to lie to any of them about sticking his dick elsewhere.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 5:06 PM on May 23, 2018 [14 favorites]

Got in a relationship when I was 19, with someone on the other side of the world, no less. Moved here to be with him after I finished uni. It wasn't my first relationship exactly, but the first one that involved cohabitation and basically creating a life together. We were together for 13 years and for the last many of them, I was sticking with it because although I was unhappy in some ways, I wasn't drastically unhappy most of the time. I definitely couldn't imagine doing everything on my own.

Everything changed when I was 31/32, met a woman and fell madly (I do mean madly, there was nothing sane about it) in love with her. My ex and I were poly so it wasn't cheating, everyone knew what was going on. But without going into detail, it got really bad towards the end as I realised I actually didn't want to be poly, didn't want more than one relationship, and didn't want to be with him. So I ended it. I am sure he'd have a different story about it, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Then followed a really intense period of self-discovery. I did not stay with the woman I'd fallen madly for either; that's another long story in its own right but suffice it to say it was really not good. But I was doing everything for myself - becoming completely independent by having to deal with all the things he used to take care of because it fit his skill set and preferences better than mine. Living completely on my own in a place I had chosen for myself and could do what I wanted with. Making life on my own terms without having to check with anyone else. Working out how I could afford everything and pay back debts. It was terrifying and exhilarating and stressful and wonderful. I wasn't stuck anymore. We got divorced and have rarely communicated since. I don't wish him ill, but I have no desire for him to be in any way part of my life either.

Relationship-wise, I've had 3 in the 12 years since ending the marriage - and am still in one of them. One was about a year, one was about three, and I've been with my current partner for not quite 3 years. I am definitely not a prize catch myself with long term physical and mental health issues to contend with. I'm also an introvert and can think of nothing more hellish than going out to bars trying to meet people. And yet somehow I have managed not to be completely alone. I am not always happy (one of my issues is clinical depression) but I have never regretted ending the marriage. My life is a million times better, even with my raft of current problems, than it was back then.

I echo others in saying that if he won't do it for his own sake, out of inertia or whatever, then being fair to his partner may be a better argument. She deserves someone who really wants to be with her.
posted by Athanassiel at 5:19 PM on May 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

I had 7 of the 8 issues that JenThePro summed up above in my first marriage and left it in my late 20s. It was the best decision I ever made.
posted by getawaysticks at 5:36 PM on May 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

My parents divorced after 13 or 14 years of marriage and two children. It was a good idea; they had grown apart and everyone in the household was miserable. My father dated a few women afterwards but never for more than a few years, and finally he became comfortable with being single and living by himself (with frequent visits to see the kids). My mother dated a couple of guys and then met and married someone who turned out to be a much better match. They were married in 1986, when my mother was 41, and are still happily together 32 years later, having supported one another through a couple of major health crises.

My father died in 2008, but in the aftermath of my wedding in 1995, my parents got used to spending time together, reconciled, and eventually became friends. My dad went on a couple of vacations with my mom and her husband, and she was with my sister and me at his bedside when he died.

My take: divorce is stressful, disruptive, and expensive (especially when kids are involved), but staying in a bad marriage is ultimately far, far worse.
posted by brianogilvie at 6:58 PM on May 23, 2018

I was married 20+ years, about 10 too long. My ex is not a bad guy but we grew apart and I spent 10 years depressed and more and more lonely in a sense. We were good partners for raising our kids but that was about it. But I just could not end it..So I blew up the marriage in a spectacular, mean and stupid way. I should have just been honest with myself and with him. It was a mistake.. Course the ex who swore he loved me was remarried within a year..jerk. BUT
I met my Love . He is everything I never knew I was missing. He lets me call him silly little nicknames. Is honest and open with me, Puts up with my ups and downs and loves me back something fierce. Our Happily Ever after will be shorter than I ever wanted (cancer) but it's been worth every moment. I would have never loved nor been loved like this if I had stayed married..
posted by ReiFlinx at 5:05 AM on May 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

Most people I know are thrilled to be divorced but I do know a few who regretted it. All of these people were the partner that was using their partner and getting quite a lot out of the relationship, actually, but were miserable anyway and cheating on their spouse. After divorce they found themselves alone, without a social network, and had to do a lot more housework and emotional labor than they even knew existed. Their previously cozy life that they took for granted disappeared and the new life was a lot of work for them. The things they hated about their spouse turned out to just be completely in the realm of normal human needs. Their spouses, on the other hand, were free and happy.

Sounds like your friend, who is cheating on his wife and using her because it's convenient and makes his life better and hesitant to leave because he doesn't think he can find another woman to use might be on the money with this one. His quality of life probably will go down if he divorces her. She should divorce him, though.
posted by Polychrome at 7:16 AM on May 24, 2018 [6 favorites]

I did this five years ago, and I am SO GLAD I DID IT! At the time, it was heartbreaking, soul-crushing, and absolutely terrifying, but now I am free free free in every way. What I've done since undoing that relationship:
- I grieved for a solid year. Went through the stages. Didn't rush it. It hurt like hell, and my friends from that period are my besties for life. They saw me through, and I learned from them that I didn't need that relationship to have love.
- I dated and played and explored. Falling in love again after my heart had healed was a powerful experience. I learned that I love deeper and stronger each time I open myself to someone new. I think this ability is heavily dependent on actually grieving and healing first.
- I finished a PhD as a single mother, landed a dream job, moved across a few states, and kicked ass in my new professional life. This was a surprise to me: that I could do all this without him. Since then, I've learned that this isn't a fluke of chance. I'M BETTER WITHOUT HIM BECAUSE MORE OF MYSELF IS ALIVE AND THRIVING WITHOUT THAT RELATIONSHIP HOLDING ME BACK.
- I stopped dating. There came a time when I wanted to go inward. I called a time-out on looking for a relationship, and found more depth in my solo life.
- And it just continues... Moving on from a relationship that was no longer right for me was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I can't say enough good things about divorce when divorce is what you need to grow into your best you.
posted by Dr_Janeway at 9:31 PM on May 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

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