Before you choose divorce…

According to statistics, the first Monday in January brings a peak in divorce applications. Intense expectations of time spent together, forced jollity and realising that this life isn’t what you want means the post festive season of dark mornings and a lack of twinkly lights also regularly result in filling in papers giving extensive reasons you don’t want to be shackled to your spouse anymore.

Sometimes divorce is understandable. It’s unavoidable. If you’re in an abusive relationship I’d argue it’s necessary and important. But choosing divorce isn’t the ‘easy’ option. It’s a way out of a situation, but that doesn’t make it simple.

I didn’t choose to divorce. But if you are choosing to separate and divorce, lately I’ve been reflecting on what I wished my ex had done before that decision and what might have changed our situation for the better at that time.

I wished he’d tried everything.

That sounds vague, but I wished nothing had been left ‘unattempted’ in the pursuit of saving our marriage. He felt it was dead in the water, but to me attending counselling or mediation together would have meant that being confirmed through discussion. Topics would have been aired, options considered, and if that had still led to him leaving then it wasn’t due to a hitherto unearthed but fundamental fix. Talking wasn’t something he wanted to do, and I think it is often something that’s balked at. ‘Couples counselling’ doesn’t sound like a fun Wednesday night. And it might not be. But it also shows you’ve tried even something you didn’t particularly want to do in an attempt at saving your marriage, and what is six hours out of your life? Not all that much in context.

I wished he’d try to rekindle the romance. It sounds trite, but I wished he’d ‘date’ me again. Presumably there was something he’d fallen in love with, so I wished he would date me to find it again. Falling out of love and finding you have nothing in common anymore could potentially be redeemed through rediscovering what you love to do together, and having fun together. Maybe it won’t mean your marriage is saved, but it might mean you can also end amicably as you remember you did like each other, even if you don’t love each other any more.

I wished he’d been clear; explained why so I’d have understood. But maybe I would never have done so, as it was so entirely at odds with what I wanted, thought and hoped for. I wanted desperately to understand. I don’t think I ever fully have, but now I’m at peace with that.

I wished he’d own up to his mistakes. When we filed for divorce, I asked him to fill in the papers but to ensure we were granted a divorce I edited them. Having to write out, in excruciating detail, what had led to this was a painful layer to peel back and be forced to stare at again. Being honest the first time questions were asked to filling in the final papers would have saved me heartache.

There are some decisions I was grateful for.

I appreciated the generosity in dividing our lives as he knew he was forcing me into something I didn’t choose and that our split wasn’t acrimonious. I’ve appreciated being able to move freely into a new life, which is significantly easier when you don’t have the tie of children together.

Choosing divorce isn’t easy, for either party. But knowing there’s nothing more that could have been done, that you’ve really tried everything you could, is a small piece of comfort when everything seems lost.

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