The worst night of my married life was when my then-husband and I were both pretending to be asleep. He suddenly took my hand and said, “I guess it’s over.” He was talking about our marriage. I said “uh-huh” and we both cried.
We’d been living for months like two polite acquaintances. What had initially felt like a perfect match had become a silent agreement for us to hang in for the kids. They were then eight and six. We both loved our children, but hadn’t realized how much each of us was growing apart as individuals.
So, we divorced. It wasn’t as hard on us as we’d expected. But it was doubly-hard on the kids who couldn’t understand how their parents could seem the same and yet so different.
I know now that we made mistakes. We saw a therapist but had different agendas. He wanted me to agree to stay together, though he was as personally distanced as I was.
We’d let our differences divide us. He considered his contribution as the larger bread-winner more important than my job, which I loved. He worked late, also on some weekends, taking for granted that I’d be busy with the kids since I already was away from them during the week... when they were at school.
A massive wedge of misunderstanding lodged between us.
He married someone else, got the adoration he’d been needing. I was single much longer - a lucky chance for learning more about myself.
The kids are currently nearing the end of their teenage years, thank heavens. They each have their sadness about what once was a family, but have grown to also realize that we’re still their family, their parents, the two people who care most deeply about them (though with guilt feelings, too).
So, I’m writing to say that some marriages simply don’t work. It’s how we help the kids through a divorce that matters most.
When Divorce “Works”
What also matters, through every major life experience that involves loss, is what everyone involved actually learns from it.
That’s not just about who moved on to a “better” relationship, which many people focus on after divorce. Rather, it’s about making peace with yourself about why you took this huge step that unsettles everyone involved.
And why you hung in through any negative reactions of family members, friends, etc.
This is where therapy helps - facing honest self-awareness, realistic needs, and setting achievable goals with the help of an experienced professional.
I’d been very concerned about a former co-worker. When we worked together several years ago, she was funny and very open about her mental health struggles. We later went separate ways, but kept up on Instagram.
She’d discuss how tough the Covid lockdowns were. Now, because of Omicron, she’s entered a dark rabbit hole. She’ll call politicians Nazi's because of restrictions.
I reached out as someone to talk to, but got chewed out because I "dared to post" something positive about myself. I haven't been following her account since. However, another mutual friend mentioned to me that her posts are getting worse.
Should I reach out again and offer her a friendly shoulder to cry on?
Yes, even if you disagree with her comments.
During this pandemic that persists, worries and fears are common, anger is fuelled by disruptive information on all sides, and loneliness is oppressive.
Being supportive is a gift. So is offering an online mental health resource, e.g., https://ontario.cmha.ca/news/tips-to-manage-mental-health-during-covid-19.
FEEDBACK Regarding the man receiving the social “Response of Nothingness” (December 27):
Reader – “As a single woman on the Internet, when random men approach me online, similar to when I’m walking on the street, my reaction’s often primarily about staying safe.
“The reality of being a woman on the Internet is that turning men down, politely/respectfully, has resulted in harassment or vitriol. So, sometimes it’s emotionally easier to ignore, than think about how to do it gently. Am I going to get called an ugly slut if I say no to this guy?
“Also, most of us receive a ton of online communication, and there’s a pandemic.
“I’m not promoting ghosting. But men must remember that women’s responses are often based on their personal experience.
“Suggesting that people not responding are “selfish” is selfish. Cold calling doesn’t mean anyone owes you anything. If someone can’t handle being quietly turned down, maybe dating isn’t for them.”
Tip of the day:
Divorce sometimes replaces marriage with self-awareness, better choices, more realistic goals.