My divorce has made me feel a type of guilt I didn’t know existed. People told me I would mourn and grieve, that I would go through many stages and be confused by so many feelings, and it would be hard to untangle them all.
They were right.
And these feelings aren’t something you can adequately describe to anyone. Because until you go through divorce, you have no idea the places it will take you.
It’s scary when you decide to divorce, but it’s so much better than staying in a situation that is making you feel broken and helpless every day for the rest of your life.
My ex-husband and I worked on our marriage for a long time — 6 years. We both committed to staying together and trying as hard as we could for the kids, until one day we realized there wasn’t anything left for us to grab onto.
We were trying and failing, and trying and failing, until… we were just failing everyone in our home, especially our three children.
We knew having to share our time with the kids would be the hardest thing for both of us to endure and we spent many hours crying about this fact — together and separately.
Sometimes we still do, and it’s been over a year since we split up.
This wasn’t in our plan. The plan was to stay together until death parted us.
There wasn’t a death, but we knew if we didn’t do something when we did, we’d do more damage staying together than separating.
One night, as we were talking about how we needed to tell our children (we’d put it off for too long and it was time), I said, “This is going to kill our kids.”
Then we both shut down for the night, deep in thought.
Saying it out loud was enough to stall us for another two weeks even though we both knew that what we were putting them through by staying together was doing the same thing.
Of course, you want to give marriage your best shot for you and your partner. But when you give up on that sentiment, your kids are there to give you some willpower; they are your motivation and you think, Maybe we can make it for them.
You don’t want them to come from a home that’s broken, but that’s exactly what you are doing if you stay together and you and your partner are miserable — that is a real broken home.
They will remember the look on your faces when you see each other. They will know if you aren’t sleeping in the same room. They will make comments when you stop kissing and hugging and saying “I love you.”
They feel the tension, observe the nasty looks, and hear the tone in your voices.
They absorb your sadness, your anger, your restlessness.
They can feel it all, but I can tell you from experience, kids are resilient. And while divorce is hard on them, you know what’s harder? Growing up in a home where two people can’t stand each other and want nothing more than to escape.
They know if you are only staying together for their sake, and it doesn’t feel good to know someone has decided to be miserable for their whole life as a sacrifice to you.
What I thought would break my kids has actually saved us all.
The whole, long process of divorce comes with sadness and guilt — lots of it. But kids want nothing more than to have happy parents, even if the gateway to that happiness means one of you moves out.
It might take a while for happiness to come again, but it will. I promise, it will.
In the end, you are both just as much their parents as you always have been, and by walking away from a partnership that isn’t working, you are giving those children a gift that you can’t give them by staying together and being miserable.