Unsure About Divorce?
By Myra Alport December 23, 2023
Is Divorce the Right Move for You?
Like many women, I found myself teetering on the edge of divorce. Most of the time it was just a passing thought until one day my spouse suggested it when we reached an impasse.
A series of defining moments occurred as I read “Coming Apart: Why Relationships End and How to Live Through the Ending of Yours” by Daphne Rose Kingma. This well-known relationship expert and author opened my door to true introspection and self-learning. Her guidance led me to face my deeply seated emotions instead of intellectualizing them.
Taking action required a great deal of effort and processing, which I had long been avoiding. I would remind myself that I wasn’t a black or white, all-or-nothing kind of person prone to quick decisions. I was an overthinker who sought logical explanations or reasonable excuses. In fact, I was fully at home in that vast gray area where my suppressed thoughts and feelings dangled in space. I told myself that I wasn’t a quitter. See what I mean?
Relationships Have a Shelf Life
Kingma believes “the coming apart of a relationship is just like the establishment of one; it’s a complex and intricate process.” Is it ever! The notion that marriages are to last “until death do us part” could be paraphrased to “until the end of the marital shelf life.” We must accept that all relationships change over time. Marriage is like assembling an intricate puzzle with each piece representing shared moments, experiences and a unified vision for the future. Over time some pieces become fractured and may forever be changed, upsetting the once harmonious picture.
While divorce is the process of disentangling emotions and memories there’s also a bright side. It also presents immense opportunities for personal growth and transformation. But to be successful, you gotta do the hard work or you haven’t taken lift off.
A Diagnostic Coda
In the book’s preface, Kingma references a concluding chapter, a ”diagnostic coda” to help identify the signs and symptoms of a floundering marriage. I impulsively chose to read this section first, kind of like glossing over the last chapter of a book to see if it’s interesting enough to read from the beginning!
This section became my wake-up call, a bright red flashing SOS signal that led me to face certain realities once and for all. It was time to take a leap of faith (in myself), to jump off the marital roller coaster, full stop. I realized that the glue that solidly bound us together as business owners for over 20 years revealed holes in our foundation when we chose to leave it all behind to move cross country.
On the one hand, we celebrated the move as a newly found freedom, a do-over of sorts. There were lighter demands on our time to pursue new interests and explore new places. Yet the demons from back home came along for the ride. The resulting stress highlighted certain behaviors that were capsizing our marriage. I could not picture spending the rest of my life this way. Don’t get me wrong - there were plenty of happy memories and we were blessed with an amazing daughter.
Discovering My Self
Kingma explores the psychological developmental process that helps to answer the questions “who am I?” and “why are we in relationships?” While we like to think that childhood and adulthood are distinctly different phases of ourselves, they are intertwined both consciously and unconsciously. I also realized that as a young child of divorce I never witnessed what a good or bad marriage looked like.
What hit home: My mother had many redeeming qualities yet for much of her life she talked shi*t about my dad, whom I barely knew. I heard what a weak and depressed man he was, how he might have been successful if only he had applied himself, and how tightly attached he was to his parents.
It took me years to connect the dots: I married a college dropout who was always seeking approval from his father, an ambitious, self-made man. Rather than striving to become his own person, he opted to work for his parents (aka financial safety net). He had never fully evolved. In hindsight I was attracted to his physical and mental strength, the confidence he exuded and his overly protective nature. I felt secure for the first time in my life.
Like death, divorce requires acceptance before healing can begin. Kuzma calls this grief passageway “emotional resolution.” One difference is that death is finite and irrefutable; with divorce you’re both still out there and may remain in each other’s lives if children are involved. Closure will be more challenging. The key takeaway is to focus on your feelings instead of avoiding them. Get to know your “self” during this transition and find peace.
If you are on the brink of divorce, I hope you will check out this book in search of closure. I have never once regretted my decision. There is so much awaiting you!