Do you ever wonder if you really have the guts to file for divorce?
I had dinner last night with three friends who are in various stages of divorce. Our situations are each a little different. One’s divorce has been final for a few years, another friend’s separation has been dragging on for two years so far, and another is just beginning the painful process of telling their children, friends and family that they had decided to split up.
Their situations are different but what each of these woman had in common was bravery. Each woman was brave enough to file for divorce. In each of these cases, there wasn’t physical or emotional abuse which would make divorce a necessity. So when do you decide to end a marriage that isn’t working for both spouses? When do you decide that arguing and yelling in front of your kids isn’t helping but instead hurting them? When do you decide that your own life and happiness matter? Each of these ladies were strong enough to step out into the darkness and pray for the light.
The title of author Susan Jeffers’ book says it best:
“Feel the fear and do it anyway.”
The decision to file for divorce wasn’t taken lightly. In each of these cases, there was counseling, many attempts at making the relationships work. Each woman tried again and then tried some more to make the marriage work so that if it did end, she knew she had tried everything possible to save the marriage.
And in each case, it was the woman who finally found the courage and bravery to file for divorce and end a marriage that had long since stopped being a loving relationship. Women are usually the ones who will express their unhappiness in marriages that don’t work, and for some reason, they are also the ones who are brave enough to end it. Even when both spouses are unhappy, men will stick around. Are men too afraid of being alone? Too afraid of the difficulty of starting over?
Some women decide to stick it out. They can’t find the courage to strike out on their own. They send out beautiful Christmas cards of their smiling family each holiday season. The glossy photo doesn’t show that they live separate lives of silence, the heartfelt holiday greeting doesn’t say they haven’t been intimate in years. For these women, that is the best decision. They make it work somehow.
But for the three friends I just spent time with that simply isn’t an option anymore. These three women decided that their lives and happiness were worth more than a failed relationship. They were going to take a gamble, place a bet that that there was something, and maybe someone, better for them out there.
It’s like going to Las Vegas and spinning a huge roulette wheel. Will I end up old, alone and covered in cat hair? Or will I find a happy new life? There are no sure things in life and certainly not in divorce.
Have you filed for divorce? How did you find the courage to call it quits?