Friday, May 11, 2007

Top 5: Moving Beyond a Lost Relationship

Instead of going to bed one night, my now ex-husband started talking about wanting to be happy. He talked for a while and finally said he said he just wanted to be friends. He treated 15 years of marriage like a six month casual relationship. He just did not know how to cope with two babies under the age of three--one who is on the autistic spectrum, a mortgage, and the daily grind of life.

After days of prodding, I found out that my ex was involved in an online romance. He found a girlfriend through his online gaming--one who spent alot of money and was addicted to online gaming. I was shocked at first and then realized my marriage was an emptry relationship. I grieved for many weeks over the loss of my marriage and feared being a lonely single mom with a special needs child. As painful as it was, I knew that the best decision was to start a new life. Listed below are my top five survival tips to moving beyond a failed relationship, especially if you have kids.

My Top 5 Survival Tips for Moving Forward:

1. Don't forget the kids; they come first. My children noticed when daddy moved out. They would ask about daddy coming home from work. What could I say about daddy? I had to hide many of my reactions and develop an approach to deal with my kids. As the responsible parent (at least in my eyes), I did not want the kids to to be negatively impacted by the stress. I did my best to talk about the changes taking place. I also maintained a highly structured home environment. My ex even agreed to letting the kids live with me full time so they would not be confused by two homes. This may be extreme, but my kids did not ask to live in this situation.

2. You don't have to like an ex, but it helps to be civil. In my opinion, my husband was callous in his actions and immature for not approaching me sooner about marital issues. I do not consider my ex a friend and probably won't for years to come. However, this does not change the the fact that my kids will be in contact with their daddy throughout their lives. For me, the only means of dealing with this unpleasantness is to be civil. I remain neutral in my reactions and try not to get on my soap box. My ex leaves the door wide open to being lectured. I just ignore the door's presence.

3. Keep yourself together, don't get lost on the way out. At one time, I was wrapped up in my marriage and kids. This was my identity and a source of strength through the many hardships I experienced. My oldest child had health issues from birth, my ex was addicted to online gaming and for a while, I was bringing home the only paycheck. After my marriage went south, I got lost in grief. I did not want to face the end of my relationship. It took several weeks, but I started planning time out with friends and special activities for the kids. I eventually got counseling as well. I worked to move forward so that I did not feel so helpless about my predicament. It would have been so easy to pine after my ex and the life I thought I had. If I did not move forward with myself, I would remain lost in the past.

4. Don't spend all your money on the lawyers, keep some for yourself. Getting married is easy, and getting divorced costs time and money. The money predominantly goes to lawyers--from 25 cents for one photocopy to hundreds of dollars an hour for a lawyer's time. My lawyer was important in guiding me through the process, but I wanted to spend as little as possible. I did not need years of debt on top of a failed marriage. I had to work with my ex and forget about any notion of punishing him. In the end, I saved a little money now and a lot of future financial hardship.

5. Reach out and talk. When I first learned of my ex's transgressions, I decided to talk with close family and friends. I could not believe I was talking about my ex and his girlfirend or about his video game addiction, but this act removed my isolation. I found support and great advice. One friend even flew across the country to spend a weekend with me. She helped me to realize that my marriage was over. Talking to others broke my cycle of grief and pushed me into a healing process.

The grief about my breakup was equivalent to someone dying. I still can't believe that my marriage was over in a matter of weeks. Facing the situation and moving forward was the best solution for me. I can't change my ex's behaviors. I can only control my reaction and what i will accept in my life.

1 comment:

Darlene McDaniel said...

thank you. i needed to read this.