July 2022: Angst — Lisa Rose of Southern CA says: “After my divorce, I felt an immediate sense of freedom that made me quite giddy!”

How long were you married before you began thinking about getting divorced? 18 years

Why did you want to leave? There were many “reasons,” but the overarching answer is that we were in a negative cycle that was not improving.

How did your spouse feel about your decision? His feelings about getting divorced shifted as time went on. At first, he was (unbelievably) surprised. Then after we actually separated, he was angry then dismayed. He moved to resigned when I started dating someone (about nine months after we separated) and finally reached a place of appreciation as he started to date someone new and see himself through her eyes. He actually thanked me for seeing the truth first.

How long did it take to make the decision? Yeeeeaaars! (about 3)

What kept you from leaving sooner? We talked about how the “family” becomes something greater than each of its parts greater than the marriage itself. I stayed for the big picture, the dream of an intact family, the friends, and history we all shared, the hope that it might improve, and also the fear that nothing would get better if I left.

Do you wish you had waited? No. Never.

Talk about what your life has been like since you got divorced. Better! I felt an immediate sense of freedom that made me quite giddy! Then I got to settle into myself in a way I hadn’t for years. Then I met a man who made me see things differently again, and I am learning new things about myself every day.

Are you happier? Wildly! How is your spouse doing? He is better than he has in years. We are close, and he even talks to my new partner. As my partner (Tim) said, my ex is “resigned to his life and what he can expect.” Unlike me, he is not ambitious and not interested in pushing himself in the ways I always did and also expected from him. How are your kids doing? Better. They both saw it before I did. they still struggle with their own relationships with their Dad, but I am no longer the go-between, which is healthier for everyone!

Would you divorce again? Would you do anything differently? Sooner. Otherwise, I feel like many of the things we did were right and left us in a good place to move forward.

Now take a look forward: Do you want to marry again? What lessons will you take with you into your next relationship? No. Yes. Maybe. I am already learning so much that it’s hard to share just a few.

  1. I am learning to listen to my heart and my body.
  2. I have found that I do not need to say everything I think or ensure that my point is acknowledged in every conversation.
  3. I am realizing that it’s ok to argue and even get angry. Holding all of those feelings back is not the path to a happy relationship!

Advice for Others: What lessons from this entire experience have you learned and would like to share with others?

  • I understand what they mean when they say that finding the best partner requires being the best partner — for the first time ever I actually want to be a better partner for this man rather than just expecting him to be better for me. You can’t fake that, but if you don’t feel it might be a red flag.
  • I understand that you need to find a “whole” man – or at least one who is striving for that. Too many many are arrested in their “prince” phase and cannot see what is required of them in a relationship.
  • The idea that a marriage has failed because it ended is unfair. My marriage did a bunch of great things for us, including bringing our children into the world. It just ran its course and we are both better for having had it and having ended it!

Resources: Conscious Uncoupling — While this book was a little sophomoric for me, but the idea of generosity stuck and has been the foundation of our positive outcome.