Divorce Can Be Beneficial
For the past several days, I’ve been pondering one question given to me by a new friend — someone I’ve known for less than a week. That said, this person is remarkably perceptive, and she asked me this penetrating question:
“Can divorce, contrary to popular opinion, actually be beneficial?”
Here is my answer:
“Why, yes. Yes it can.”
“But Barb,” I can almost hear you protest. “Divorce is painful. Why would I ever want to go through that, and why do you say it can be beneficial?”
“Yes, divorce is painful. But if you and your spouse do not understand each other, have grown apart, or worst of all, he’s brought another child into this world outside of your marriage (which my second unlamented ex-husband did), you need to be gone. It’s not good for you to stay. And if you have children, your children will see all your pain, all your anger, all your dysfunction, and start to model it for themselves in their own relationships…something you truly don’t want.”
In other words, divorce in some ways is like a rebirth. It’s hard. It is not for the timid, no. But it allows you to restart your life, reassess who you are and where you’re going, and get yourself back on track if nothing else.
(Again, if you have kids, be sure to be civil to one another. For example, I understood that my parents were divorcing; I would not have understood them bad-mouthing each other. Thankfully, I do not remember either of them doing that, which in retrospect was a huge blessing.)
Mind, in case you’re sitting there thinking, “Your divorce must’ve been the easiest on record,” my answer is, “Um…no.”
My divorce was brutal. I remember eating baby food, because nothing else would stay down. I saw my soon-to-be-ex-husband parading around town with the woman who became his second wife, and I could do nothing but swallow helpless rage. (It took me some time to realize that I was enraged, mind, because at first I was so saddened by all of this, and wondered how it could have ever come to pass.) I played in a group with my soon-to-be-ex-husband and his new girlfriend, the woman who became his second wife, and it sometimes was agonizing…yet I refused to give up the comfort of music, as I knew I needed it to help me somehow get past the pain.
I did not enjoy going through the divorce process at all. But eventually there was light at the end of the tunnel…and it wasn’t an oncoming train.
In other words, I found Michael (or, as he would no doubt want to have it, he found me). And finding him, being with him, being married to him, was worth every other pain in my life, past and present. He understood me, he was creative and funny and helped me be my best self, and I did my best to give him all the support, encouragement, laughter and love that I could, too.
Because that is what love is.
So, if you are divorcing right now, try to avoid giving in to despair. Divorce gives you the opportunity to find someone who is truly right for the you-who-is right now, rather than continuing to fight the same old battles in the same old ways.
In other words, do not see yourself as a failure if you must proceed with a divorce.
Instead, see yourself as a survivor. Someone who will do what’s necessary, so you can have the chance to meet the person who truly is right for you down the road…just as I met Michael.
**Edited to add: I am not ashamed to say I was twice-divorced before I finally found Michael, my late husband. I just didn’t want to bog down the narrative, which I would’ve, so I didn’t discuss my second ex hardly at all. Seems appropriate. (I know who mattered to me in this life, and my ex-husbands did not, except as shining examples of what not to do.)