The Space Between Us

decision to divorce

You weren’t planning on this. Nobody does. I will never forget the moment my now ex-husband said those words, “I want a divorce.” I was shocked, shattered. It felt like my whole world had been pulled out from under my feet. In retrospect, there had been signs, not blaring neon ones, but signs nonetheless. Arguments that never got resolved. Distances that just kept getting wider.

It is a rare thing that two people will decide at the same time that they want to split up. The dynamic that I have experienced from decades of working with people who are going through divorce is that there is one person who is leaving and one person who is being left. These two people, people who have loved each other, who have built a life together, are suddenly in such different places on their journey that it’s hard to recognize each other. It is this distance that fuels so much of the conflict we see in court.

The Decision to Divorce

The decision to divorce is not one that is taken lightly. You may know this yourself as you spent months or years contemplating it. You grieved and tried and compromised and hoped, both consciously and subconsciously. You thought about what staying would look like, and leaving. You hurt and you healed and, at some point, you decided. At some point, you had to move forward. You had to tell him/her that you wanted a divorce.

They will feel blind-sided. The D word may have come up before, but when it’s said that way—the this is happening now way, it’s different. Even if it’s said softly. Even if it’s said in love and kindness and let’s do this in the best way possible for ourselves and our kids. It’s an explosion, or maybe an implosion. It’s all of that. All the sirens go off in our nervous system—all the fight and flight and freeze. Panic and desperation and so many questions, and it’s hard, even in the very best of circumstances, to make good decisions.

Lots of times the initiator makes the decision and tells their partner and then expects or assumes that they will just be able to get on the same page. It doesn’t work that way. The second person, the one being left, they are going to need a minute. They will often need time and support to process, grieve, and accept that their life is changing in such a huge and (often) un-wanted way.

If both parties can understand that although they are in different places in their healing and may want different things for their lives, it does not mean that they have to be enemies or that the dissonance has to carry on through to co-parenting or to court.  If we can give each other some grace a lot of unnecessary hurt and conflict can be avoided. If we can react, even under the most difficult circumstances, with trust and compassion for ourselves and others, we can transform ourselves and our families and create lives to be proud of.

Need assistance with your divorce? Contact me for a complimentary discovery call.