Divorce was the last thing I ever wanted in my first marriage.
Yet, in hindsight, I wish that my husband had asked for a divorce.
Because a divorce would have far easier – and more honest – than what transpired.
If he had asked for a divorce, I would have been gutted. There is no easy way to accept the end of a relationship when it’s not what you want. It’s natural to beg, to cry, to rage in attempt to change the outcome, to somehow MAKE them want to stay.
But that one-sided attempt never really works.
If they want out, if their mind is made up and they are not willing or able to make an effort at repair, it’s often best to let them go.
From my perspective now, I would rather face divorce than have a partner who is only with me out of a sense of obligation or guilt. I want to be with somebody that chooses me every day (especially on the hard days when we don’t especially connect). Anything else only leads to resentment.
I would rather face divorce than have an unhappy partner that is using affairs to try to fill the void they feel. I would rather be left in plain sight than cheated on behind my back. The pain from betrayal is unparalleled.
I would rather face a divorce sooner than abandonment down the road when the pretense becomes too much for my partner to uphold. They both result in a feeling of rejection, but abandonment makes it much harder to learn how to trust again.
I would rather face divorce than be with someone who was married in name only, who refused to be emotionally present. I would rather be alone than feel miles apart from the person sleeping next to me every night.
I would rather face divorce than be married to someone who keeps up a facade at all times, pretending to be something and someone that they are not. I’d rather have an honest ending than a lie that lasts til death do us part.
Two things can be true at the same time –
Divorce is awful and can be extremely disruptive and even traumatic, especially for a partner who does not want it or for the children.
Sometimes divorce is the best outcome in a given situation.
If you have to choose between a happy marriage and divorce, it’s obvious which selection is the preferred one. Yet that’s not the option that’s on the table. The decision is between keeping a malfunctioning relationship going either through life-support or a steady drip of denial and an end of that relationship, leaving space for something new.
Speaking from personal experience, if you’re facing an unwanted divorce, it’s extremely challenging to accept that your marriage was not as happy as you thought. This is especially true if your spouse actively hid their unhappiness (don’t you just love the, “I haven’t been happy for a long time” being the first indication of a problem???). But even if everything was smooth from your perspective, they may see ragged surfaces and unfilled spaces from their side, and the marriage is the sum of those views.
I wonder now if my own fear of divorce played a role in my ex-husband’s deceptions. If he was too scared of my reaction to bring up the possibility of divorce, so instead he tried to pretend that everything was okay at home while living an entirely different life outside those four walls. Perhaps things would have been easier if we were both more willing to look at things honestly.
I am not anti-divorce.
I AM anti-lying to yourself or your partner. A relationship that is not built on honesty will eventually – and painfully – collapse.
I AM anti-cheating. It is never okay to betray your partner’s trust.
I AM anti-abandonment. It is cowardly and immature to slink away without a conversation.
I AM anti-shaming someone for the decision they make. We all have to do what aligns with our goals and values.
Divorce is awful. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy (or even on my ex-husband!). Yet sometimes, for some people, in some situations, it’s the right decision.