Many of us are children of divorce and divorced parents. The experience we had as a child infuses our choices and journeys as adults. Here's what I know from both:
1. Grow up: This is not your parents' divorce. Get your own.
2. Kids' best interests: Your children are having their own experience. Let them. Protect them.
3. Best selves: Did you start out friends? If your marital love was born out of a deep, abiding friendship and your divorce rekindles that friendship, your children - and your own wellbeing - are blessed.
4. Root of all evil: Having money and stuff to split is bad. Not having money or stuff to split is bad.
5. Crazy Town: You will each lose your minds. Hopefully not at the same time.
6. Better halves: Sometimes there is a better half. Each of you gets an equal chance at the title. Claim it proudly.
7. Prepare to be amazed: Some transgressions are unforgiveable. Not always the ones you might predict.
8. Built to last: You are capable of genuine, expansive forgiveness in the face of cataclysmic events.
9. Fight or Flight: When you are frightened, you will be pettier, meaner, and more vindictive than you've ever imagined.
10. From a safe distance: Some of qualities and circumstances that tore you asunder in marriage can bind you tightly and safely in divorce.
11. You @#$$%^%!!!!: Some of the qualities and circumstances that tore you asunder in marriage will continue to drive you insane in divorce.
12. She did WHAT? What you thought you knew about yourself and your ex-spouse is only half the story.
13. Cognitive Dissonance: Your brain will be required to perform the nearly impossible psychological high-wire act of protecting you against what you perceive as your archest enemy out to steal your children and leave you destitute while - at precisely the same millisecond - holding tightly to the memory and belief that this same person once held your heart with love and is the other half of the key to your children's psychological health.
14. Harm to your children: No matter what the circumstances, your children will experience deep pain, loss and grief because of your choice. Everybody gets to live with that.
15. Please get back together! Just know going in that for the most part, your kids will forever nurture the primal wish that their parents will get back together, well into their adulthood and beyond.
16. Everything old is new again: What sucked about your marriage will really suck in your divorce. All the dysfunctional dynamics that may have been simmering between you in marriage will come raging forth in your divorce.
17. Everybody’s on the pain train: In many splits, one partner initiated, the other resisted. It is awful to be either one.
18. Being unfriended: Friends and family will choose sides. That’s just painful and hard and sad.
19. Shame: Even if it’s the right thing to do for all involved, it feels lousy to be ‘divorced.’ For some, there is tremendous shame and failure involved. We all judge ourselves so harshly.
20. And yet….: How it feels, how everybody feels, during the first week is not how folks will feel the first month, first year, five years later. The experience, meaning, lesson, dynamics will change. Sometimes they’ll get worse. And sometimes, mercifully, they’ll get much, much better.
Good luck out there.
Must-reads on divorce:
Judith Wallerstein's: The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce
David Royko's: Voices of Children of Divorce: Their Own Words On *Feeling Caught in the Middle *Visitation and Keeping Commitments *Mom and Dad Dating and Sex*Remarriage and Stepfamilies *Their Own Future Marriages.
Constance Ahrons: The Good Divorce
Isolina Ricci's: Mom's House Dad's House (make sure to get the book for parents and the version for kids.)
Huffington Post Divorce: Great site for compelling stories, resources and great divorce-related reads.
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Sex with your Ex? Why Divorce Sex is so Good and so Bad
Can Divorce be the Best Part of Your Marriage? 10 Tips on remaining sane and humane
Who Gets Custody of the Friends after Divorce
Old Flames on Facebook Wreck Marriages
Tools to Detect Internet Infidelity