Yes -- this is a hard one, isn't it. The end of a relationship does not necessarily mean failure. We can work on changing our ideas on this.
None of us go into a marriage expecting it to end in a divorce. Our visions of our married life may have included a stable home and family, and what ever else you thought would experience.
But divorce does happen. You may have tried to work through the concerns, and ended up understanding that the best solution is divorce.
But when you call your divorce a ‘failed marriage’, you are not acknowledging the value that may have been there during your time together, the lessons learned, and the opportunities that await you in your new life.
1. Maybe your marriage had just run its course, and the expiration date came due.
We have been given the idea that marriages are to last until the end of our days; in fact, some of us pledged this in our wedding ceremonies. But life is fluid, and full, and with this brings new experiences and changes to all of us. We grow and evolve. Sometimes we are on the same path with our partners, and sometimes our partner’s path differs from ours. And while we are walking through these experiences we may find that the marriage we promised to uphold isn’t working to support us personally or as a couple.
Is anyone to blame? No, not really. Often trying to align our differing paths together creates chaos and discord, and we look to blame our partner for our dissatisfaction. The reality may just be that the relationship served us for a time, and with growth and experiences, it no longer functions as a healthy place to be. If we can acknowledge this and let go of the blame, we can honor the lessons that we learned while together and take them in to our next chapter.
2. There were probably some great times along the way, which we forget when we think about separating.
Is your soon to be ex really a bad person, or do you need to see them this way because you are working through the wild emotions that go with divorce? Were all those years spent together as a couple full of misery, or were there times of happiness, laughter, and even joy?
It can be hard to reconcile conflicting feelings when we go through a divorce. Is it possible for you to see that your ex is fundamentally a good person, and to understand that your relationship with them might be difficult now as you figure out the divorce? What were the good moments that you shared together? Can the memories of these co-exist with the challenges that you are facing now? This can be a hard thing to experience — two opposing feelings, two sets of memories — but perhaps in trying to let them co-exist you can both honor what you had and acknowledge that your future is going in a different direction.
3. You probably worked very hard to make your marriage work, and when your solutions didn’t work, you walked away knowing that you had tried your best and that you were choosing a better life for yourself.
We rarely walk away from a commitment at the first speed bump that appears on the road. We try to resolve it, and continue to try as the concerns appear and grow. We look for many solutions, many ways to move forward, but sometimes, in spite of our best efforts, we exhaust everything that might work.
I hope you acknowledge this — that you worked hard, that you did everything you knew to do, before you made the decision to divorce. And even if it wasn’t your decision, I hope you understand that you really put in a great effort and that the divorce wasn’t for a lack of trying.
4. Your kids. Without your relationship you may not have had the gift of your kids. And your kids may be better off living in a home with less strife and a more fulfilled parent.
5. You may be in a safer, healthier place now.
If you were in an abusive relationship and are now in a safe place, congratulations. You have chosen to remove yourself from that environment and find a new way to live.
It might be as well that you always put yourself last — the kids, your spouse, work, etc. always came first, and now you can spend time focusing on your health.
6. The lessons learned, and the experiences that you shared, will help you as you create your new life. And this is where you get to start over with your new chapter, that you write yourself.
You will, at some point, be able to look back on your marriage and glimpse some good things you experienced, and I hope they will make you smile. You will have grown through the marriage in many ways, and as you begin to dissolve it now, you continue to grow. The new life you are creating for yourself now will reflect all these changes.