Thanks, anonymous mom #2.
1. When did you know that you needed to get a divorce?
I was married for 14+years. The last 3 were pretty rocky but I wanted to try to salvage what was once a great relationship. Some of the earlier signs were lack of communication, lots of arguing about the little things, not really wanting to spend time together, just going through the day to day routine with no real sense of happiness when it came to him, sex was a chore and not something enjoyable in any way. When I found out I was being cheated on I knew right away that the relationship was over and it was time to move on.
2. How long ago did you get divorced, and how old were your kids?
We split up 4 years ago and it took over a year for the divorce to actually be finalized. I had 3 kids at the time and they were 13, 9, and 7.
3. What were you hoping for when you decided to get divorced? What did you want for your kids in this process?
My greatest hope throughout the divorce process was that somehow we could ALL find happiness again.
I knew that my ex and I were not meant to be together, we no longer made each other happy. We did a great job at not letting our unhappiness with each other impact the kids, but I also knew that if the 2 of us could find happiness even if it was not together then the kids were going to make out so much better in the long run.
We both always wanted our kids to be happy, feel safe, and know that even though we could no longer be a united family that we were still all a family our love for them would never change.
4. How did you tell the children? How did they react?
We discussed for days how we were going to approach it with the kids. In the end we decided to sit them all down, tell them that we had decided to no longer live together and let them ask as many questions as they wanted to ask.
We answered the questions as truthfully as we could without giving them any unnecessary details and also made sure that it was very much understood that the decision was mutual and it was no one person's fault…..especially theirs.
As for deciding where the kids were going to live…. we in a way let them make that decision. My ex was going to be staying in our home and I was going to be moving 2 hours away to be with my family. We NEVER asked the kids to decide which parent they wanted to live with. We asked them where they wanted to go to school. 2 of the kids wanted to stay in the school system they were in and 1 decided he wanted to try something new. We also left it open to them that IF they changed their minds they could change schools…it just had to be at the end of the school year. ( this did happen and now I have 2 of them with me and he still has 1)
5. What is your advice to other parents going through this in how they should work with their kids through it?
My biggest piece of advice is to make sure the kids are told the truth and allowed to ask as many questions as they need to. Comfort them when they are sad, understand when they are mad.
You need to realize that this is their divorce also and they are affected so differently then the adults in the situation. They have no control of their lives being turned upside down and the choice that are being made around them.
They need to be heard and understood and IF they are old enough they should be involved in some of the decisions that affect them ( what school they choose to go to). They should also always know that the adults will not be upset with the decisions that they do make. it is NOT a personal attack on us, it is self preservation.
6. What is your advice to someone contemplating divorce?
My advice to someone contemplating divorce is to really, really give it time and make sure you are positive.
If things can be fixed then try to fix them. It is a huge lifelong decision and it impacts your life as well as the lives of your kids and your ex for the rest of your life.
It is not an easy solution, it actually was probably one of the hardest things I have ever gone through. My divorce was finalized almost 4 years ago now and it still impacts my life and that of my children every day. Until your kids are grown you will still have a significant connection with your ex. I still talk to mine on pretty close to a daily basis.7. What helped your kids get through this situation? What were some challenges for them?
Keeping the kids safe from all of the negativity surrounding the divorce was probably what got my kids through this the most. My divorce was not pretty but the kids really had no idea. We as adults agreed to make sure our love for our kids was greater than the the "hate" we had for each other. We did not use the kids to get back at each other. We made sure the kids knew that we they were loved by both of us and that we both thought of the other as a great parent. Our love for the kids allowed us both to give them the support they needed.
8. What helped YOU get through this, and what were some challenges you experienced?
My family and friends and kids got me through this. Without them I don't know where I would be.
I went from a SAHM who had never had to work to a person that had to work full time to support myself as well as my children. I also had huge self esteem issues….. I couldn't understand why things went as horribly as they did, In my mind I gave my ex everything what I could give and it wasn't good enough.
I took my divorce as a personal failure and I had a very hard time accepting that it was not ALL my fault, that I had no control over my ex's actions. I thought if I had been a better wife then maybe he wouldn't have been looking for better options.9. How are things now currently - are you civil with your ex, do you have a routine, schedule, communication, etc.? If things aren't great, how do you wish it was?
Things with my ex are better now than they were when we were married ;) it did take close to 3 years to get to this point. we have great communication and we do a great job parenting our children together. We both know the kids are the priority.
SInce our kids are older now we really do not have a schedule. for the most part we let the kids come and go between us on weekends, school vacations and summer as they like. During the school year we pretty much exchange kids every other weekend depending on school events, sports schedules and jobs. It has gotten much easier as the kids have gotten older.10. If you find yourself in a relationship again, what will you be looking for in a partner and a helper to raise your children?
We have both found new partners. Both of them have huge roles in caring for and helping to raise the kids. Both my ex and myself make it a point to be very supportive of each other's partners when it comes to their roles in the kids' lives. We want the kids to know that their families have grown and now they have more people in their lives that love them.
11. What do you hope your kids understand someday about why you chose to separate from their other parent?
I hope the kids understand that everyone deserves to be happy in life, that circumstances change and unexpected things happen. I want them to see how we all adapted to some of the challenges life threw at us and we became a stronger, bigger, happier family.12. What do you think people misunderstand about moms who are divorced? What do you wish others knew about your experience?
I don't think people understand how incredibly hard divorce is. How hard it is to be unhappy in a relationship to begin with but how much harder it is when you have kids to consider. I don't think people understand how much thought and planning goes into such a huge decision.
It is not something that you just wake up one morning and think " I'm going to get divorced today" I tried for years to fix my relationship. I thought about staying for the sake of the kids…. I just wanted to do what was right for them. In the end I knew that if I was happy and their Dad was happy then the end result would be happier kids… even if we weren't all together. People do not understand that divorce is not a selfish thing…. it was actually one of the most unselfish things I have ever done.13. What have you learned about yourself in this process?
I have learned that in life you cannot control the events that are thrown at you. You can only control how you react to these events. Your reactions and behaviors define the person you are. It Is ok to fall down every once in a while. The key is being able to get back up, dust yourself off and be a better, stronger person when it is all said and done.
Everything really does happen for a reason, you may not know the reason at the moment but when you figure it all out it is so worth it. I would not be the person I am right now if I had not been through some of the hardest of times.
I have an amazing new man in my life, he loves me and my kids with all of his heart. We have a perfect little boy together and my family now feels complete.