Are You Guilty of Divorce?
Are You Guilty?
Well someone has to initiate the divorce if the marriage is not repairable. And although I give a lot of credit to the person that was stronger, braver and ready to face reality first I realize that the guilt that comes along with this can be very hard to manage.
I personally was on the other side of the divorce. I was the one on the receiving end. The one left to manage the feelings of rejection and failure. But guilt was not avoidable. Although I didn’t make the choice to terminate the marriage I still felt guilty enjoying life after divorce.
I remember my first Christmas after the split. It had been just days shy of a year since we separated. We made it through one last Christmas together for the sake of our one year old son, who honestly would never even remember it. But this Christmas was different. My now two year old son was spending it with his Dad and I was not part of it. I was very lucky! I had met an amazing guy on Match.com and we had been dating for about six months. He invited me to go to New York and get away with just him. What could be better than shopping, dining out and a fancy hotel room with the guy that I really liked?
I packed some cute outfits and tried to convince myself that I was going to have a great holiday. But I failed. Instead every Christmas ornament, song or child just reminded me that I was not with my family. I was feeling so guilty for doing something that was nontraditional that I couldn’t enjoy a single moment of the trip. I couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel room so I could fall asleep and wake up with the holiday over.
Most people going through a divorce understand these guilty feelings and are constantly looking for ways to get through it. And I did exactly that. First I will tell you that it is perfectly normal to feel some guilt during those early stages of separation. Just experience the feeling and allow yourself to go through the emotions. But in many cases this guilt becomes a self-serving punishment and will only serve to do more damage to the children that you are so concerned about. You need to forgive yourself!
Be sure to remind yourself of the alternative. Children growing up in a household where there is a loveless marriage, constant fighting and disrespect will learn just that. They are like sponges and are watching your relationships as if they are watching a movie. This is not the 1980’s anymore where you almost never saw divorced families. It is becoming more of a norm and children are no long looked at differently. You have done something very brave and if you are able to learn and grow from the experience you just might be able to model a healthy relationship for your children the second time around.
My divorce was almost 11 years ago. And I can assure you that my 12 year old son has adjusted beautifully. Both his parents are remarried and in healthy loving relationships. My son actually has four parents who model very positive things. Although it is not the ideal situation it was inevitable for us. Ten years ago I was angry and battling lots of rejection issues. But today I am thankful for his brave decision to end the relationship. Trust me when I tell you that the things you feel guilty about just might be me be more appreciated than you can imagine down the road.