Wo often go into marriage without totally knowing our partner and have unrealistic expectations of the relationship
Most people enter into marriages believing in their vows. They want a life partner, home, and family. But here is the real scoop. People are very complicated creatures. We have a variety of sides to us and sometimes we don’t even realize our true inner self. I have been married for 38 years, and my husband’s opinions and choices can still take me totally by surprise. The truth is… we go into a marriage without the “whole picture” of who our new spouse is as a person. It is usually a combination of reality, fantasy, rose-colored glasses, love, and personality traits your partner may have kept hidden because they were trying to woo you.
Marriage is a relationship process. We step-by-step get to know each other and need to work out the complexities of emotions, personality traits, and personal ways of living life. Our life is no longer our own; it’s now a partnership. This process is normally hard for most couples, but at least 50% can figure it out. The hard truth is that sometimes couples get to know each others’ issues, traits, behavior, or beliefs and find they are so different they become deal-breakers.
Divorce can be more of a clear-cut decision (although still painful) if a partner is unfaithful, addicted, or abusive. But there can be an array of other issues that complicate a marriage.
Maybe you married someone who is a hoarder, has terrible hygiene, always brings you down, works all the time, or puts activities like sports or video games before you. People have even found out that their partner has a horrible secret they have kept. After several years of living in a miserable union, one partner has had enough. The couple may have tried communicating, healthy marriage tools or counseling and things just don’t change for whatever reason. Then comes the hard decision of living an unhappy, miserable existence or getting a divorce and trying to move on and build a better life.
Even when this decision is made, it is a deep loss. Human beings grieve any life loss. Be prepared to go through a grieving process and also to work through any feelings of shame.
Divorce can make us feel unsuccessful in an important life milestone. Feelings of failure, shame, and guilt can consume people after a divorce. Then there is the stigma that can come with divorce and friends and family who may not understand why you came to this conclusion.
If you believe you had good reasons to separate and tried a variety of ways to fix the problem, then cut yourself a break. Sometimes what we want in our partner goes so against the grain of their character that a comfortable middle ground just can’t be found. Accept that there were things that you did not realize before you went into this commitment. Maybe mistakes were made that just can’t seem to be worked through. I am over 60-years-old. Through my years, I have made my share of mistakes and encountered issues that I couldn’t resolve. Things in life don’t always go as planned.
A famous psychologist, John Bradshaw, once said, “Everyone is responsible, but no one is to blame.” What this author meant was to take ownership of your mistakes and find positive and healthy solutions. But we are not to blame for not knowing the future or for issues we were once unaware. Try to find inner acceptance that your union ended up not being right for both partners and let go of your guilt and shame. Instead, learn from your mistakes and find a way to rebuild your life in a positive and healthy way. Life is not just about learning how to survive but how to dance in the rain.
In part 2 of “Divorce Grief: The Loss of Love,” we will examine the grief process after the end of marriage, which will be posted a week from this article. For more information about relationships or to chat with Vicki, go to www.supprotivetalk.com. A book that may be helpful is “Moving Forward after Divorce” by David and Lisa Frisbie.