Fly with the Phoenix

Divorce: The Sequel
August 17, 2010, 2:55 am
Filed under: Family Transitions | Tags: , ,

I saw a neighbor today, a woman I haven’t seen in several months. Chit chat, I find as a newly divorced woman, is increasingly awkward. “The Question” is inevitable and almost always causes the person on the other end of the conversation discomfort. I want to squirm, too. So, after the niceties about our kids, “the question,” came in the form of “so how’s married life?” I explained I was divorced, and she said, “What? AGAIN?”

My neighbor may not have meant to slap me, but the comment did just that. For the duration of the conversation, I felt like such a schlep. Twice married, twice divorced.

L-O-S-E-R! If I–a life coach–can have these feelings, certainly folks who have not had formal training must similarly struggle. For all of us who have had the verbal smack down–divorced AGAIN–a couple of things to remember.

One. Statistically, 60 percent of second marriages will end in a divorce. I guess what makes this sting for me is that the other half of this equation is this: A couple who can make it through the first five years has a greater chance of success. I can still hear my ex-husband recite this in my head. My second marriage lasted four years, five months. I realize marriage isn’t a game (far from it), but my mind continues to turn over the question “why couldn’t we hang on just a few more months to work things out?”

There is no answer of course, so if you are torturing yourself with the same question, we need to let this go. We are in the denial stage of our grieving, and it’s important to understand the question may not have an answer. A marriage is a dynamic thing, always moving, changing, being challenged. When two imperfect people are involved, anything can happen and any number of reasons can be the tipping point.

While knowing the odds are not in your favor to make a second marriage work, there should be a modicum of comfort when you realize how many of these relationships combust. Old habits, old baggage, ex-spouses, children, finances, jobs, families in friction…my goodness…what a fragile house of cards.

Two. It takes two to be married and two to get divorced. While processing your part in the failure of your marriage, remember your ex-spouse was not without fault. No matter what the Internet book sellers are hawking this month, one person cannot save a marriage. Both must be committed to do the work–including sacrifice and forgiveness–or it will eventually crumble like my grandmother’s coffee cake.

Three. The state you are in is temporary. Know that the loneliness, fear, shame and all the negative emotions you are processing during the grieving period will eventually disappear. We are not losers, but we have suffered a great loss. Grieve. Plan. Take care of yourself. Learn to be okay living alone before you seek another relationship.

The next time you face an acquaintance or colleague and anticipate “the question,” be prepared to state plainly “(Spouse’s name) and I divorced (insert month)” and then ask them how is everything at their house before moving into the topic of weather. Promptly excuse yourself to either a.) go make a copy of a document in your hand or b.) find the buffet table and grab a slab of chocolate anything.


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