I’m a woman, 39, facing my second time in divorce court. I’m shocked and upset at how my life is turning out.
I thought my generation had gained from the previous feminists who fought for gender equality and women’s rights to have lives of ambition and accomplishment beyond the kitchen and nursery.
I also thought the more recent #metoo movement would have our partners aware that we won’t tolerate abuse – sexual or otherwise.
But I found out, twice, that while we could advance at work, we were mostly expected to run the home-fronts and child-rearing on our own or constantly negotiating for help.
My first marriage at 26 went sour within two years (no kids), when my then-husband felt “entitled” to a cooked meal and slam-bam-sex even when I’d worked late and came home exhausted.
I married again at 33 and six years later we still haven’t learned how to live together and share the load. Instead, he learned how to leave me with the majority of child-care as often as possible and spend his time instead with a woman who catered to him.
I love my child, and also love my work, where I’ve achieved a great position and salary which helped us as a couple.
I loved my husband too… but didn’t know how to be an adoring wife when our child needed attention from one or both of us, and it was always left to me. I didn’t have the energy or desire he had to go out several nights a week to fine restaurants, and have babysitters even on weekends so we could go away.
What have I been doing wrong?
Divorcing Again and Devastated
You’ve been living with the wrong men, while trying to do the right thing.
Now, you can do even better. IF you use this time period to strengthen your understanding of yourself.
You’re already accomplished, have income, life experience and a child. Those are solid factors on which to build.
Don’t dwell on the past, learn from it. Firm up your self-knowledge, including your needs and expectations - crucial, if you find someone with whom you start a new relationship.
Meanwhile, discuss these openly with your friends and hear what they include in their pack of self-knowledge.
Get counselling about what in your growing up has influenced how you react to a partner. It’ll bring you new insights into how to modify or change some of your reactions.
Practice the art of compromise… in your friendships, with colleagues, with your child who’s developing needs and wants too.
When you do meet someone whom you care to know better, ask questions about their growing up years and how they shaped their relationships and current needs and expectations.
If there are big variances with your own increased self-knowledge – or, more serious, any red flags – make counselling a need for you two together, and possibly for this person alone, too.
You’ve spent 14 years learning about what can go wrong in relationships, plus how you can think you know people and find out through time that you and they didn’t know each other at all.
I get it, that your two divorces are a tough learning curve. But dwelling on past difficulties is only useful if you study how to avoid the negatives of those years, and move toward positive ways to make your life work, whether alone or in a future, healthy partnership.
My neighbour’s a widower, retired, and helpful regarding things like taking in anything left for me at my front door when I’m out for hours.
The problem arises when we actually meet in person or we have to discuss something practical. He turns the conversation to politics.
We’re both aware that I’m less politically informed than he is, and also on opposite sides from him on some issues. I try to just say with a laugh that I’m on the run, but he persists and wants to go on trying to persuade me to his views. What should I do?
Keep up your good humour and respect for this man who’s basically helpful and likely lonely, too.
Look online for any political discussions to be held at nearby churches and community centres which he can easily access, and pass on the information. He’ll appreciate even that much conversation as well as your helpfulness.
Tip of the day:
When divorce is the choice for an unhappy, unworkable marriage, identify your positive needs/ expectations, and how to meld them with another’s if there’s a new relationship.