Break Up or Blow Up?

Melissa Etheridge and Mel Gibson. You have to be a hermit not to know about their messy relationship blow ups! They have made headlines recently, and both couples have come out with their fists swinging.

I recall the first conversation I had with a lawyer days after my ex moved out of the house. He identified two ways in which an unhappy spouse leaves a marriage. "Some spouses feel guilty when they leave," he said, "and they will be quite accommodating. You need to take advantage of this period and get the best deal you can. Then there's the second type of separation, in which the spouse will torpedo the relationship by lying, stealing or cheating and generally behaving like a louse."

What kind of break up characterizes your separation? I was lucky in that my ex felt guilty for several months. This allowed me to gather my thoughts and attend to my future. Then he met his new girlfriend (and future wife) and his attitude changed. Cruel words were spoken that I recall vividly to this day. But I never had to deal with the nightmarish and unreasonable behavior that so many abandoned spouses must go through.

I discovered one important survival trick soon after Bob moved out: while I could not save my marriage, I could control my behavior. I decided to take the high road and have largely stayed there. Research has shown that people who are able to face the future with a positive attitude and move on recover faster from the pain of divorce than those who wallow in self-pity or rehash old wounds. Here are my suggestions for those who are struggling to cope:
  • Live in the moment. Don't blame yourself for past mistakes or live with regret. Don't fear the future unknown. Take each day as it comes. Reward yourself for small successes. Be KIND to YOURSELF and trust that one day you'll find contentment again.
  • Don't react to a quarreling spouse. By not engaging with them, you take away their power to hurt you.
"In some cases the best way to deal with an unreasonable spouse is not to deal with him or her. No amount of discussion, debate or arguing will change the mind and attitude of a person who is bent on thinking and acting unreasonably. If your spouse truly believes you are a "jerk", then there is no amount of energy you can spend that will change that perception." - From the blog A Woman's Divorce
  • Take charge of the things you can handle. Don't wait for your spouse to take all the action.
  • Don't fool yourself into thinking your spouse will come back. If your spouse has left with clothes and some furniture and moved into an apartment, your marriage is over. My lawyer did not beat around the bush. He told me this in no uncertain terms - I just was not ready or willing to listen. I actually believed that Bob was going to therapy with me to mend our marriage. He was actually going to make the best divorce deal for himself.
  • Pick your friends wisely. Surround yourself with people with positive attitudes and who have only your best interests at heart. (Some friends revel in the drama and add fuel to the fire. Stay away from them.) Don't force your friends or family to choose sides, especially when kids are involved. Take the high road.
  • Listen to your instincts. Don't let others talk you into taking action that you know in your gut is wrong. My family tried to talk me into moving out of my house and to take other drastic action. I have since my divorce made changes in my life, but they were all done on MY terms and on my timeline, not someone else's. If a spouse is totally unreasonable, use a professional mediator to speak on your behalf.
  • Forgiveness is a powerful drug. Forgive yourself. Forgive your spouse. Let petty things go. Concentrate on survival issues and on healing and growth. Don't dwell on inconsequential matters. Don't play the blame game. By letting go you will feel instant relief. There are couples who will spend all their assets on lawyers fighting over inconsequential possessions for months, even years. My friend, a great lawyer, advised me: "When you are both slightly unhappy with the division of your assets, then your negotiations are done."
  • Yes, of course you need to vent your frustration, hurt, and anger. But do this in a "safe" environment. Exercise will help to keep your emotions under control. My mom allowed me to sit for 10 minutes on my pity pot before I had to get off. Those ten minutes, during which she listened quietly as I ranted and raved, allowed me to release a lot of steam. After a while, I simply ran out of anything to say.
  • Cliched as it sounds, time does heal wounds. I am still sad that my wonderful marriage did not last, but I am stronger for having survived a time that I truly thought would kill me.
Other sources:


Mia Carmel West said...

Great advice. But personally, I feel that forgiveness is the most important divorce advice that must be followed. Without forgiveness, the spouse would become bitter, resentful and angry of what happened to her marriage.

emily garnhart said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
emily garnhart said...

I found your blog interesting and useful. I added your blog to my favorites and i will come to visit again tomorrow. I have a blog about how to get him back after a break up :)

The Relationship Company said...

My pleasure to come across your blog and read it, keep posting.

Alecia said...

Wow. I heard something similar to what your lawyer said from my family law lawyer (Los Angeles-based). Whenever that "I feel guilty" type of separation happens, you have to take advantage of it. You don't want to wait until your partner goes berserk and tries to take your belongings because you're not being accommodating enough.

Thanks for sharing your stories! I hope to hear more from you soon!

Anonymous said...

If you want to learn more about this topic and other tactics for women in divorce consider reading Divorce-Money Matters, A Planning Guide For Women on Financial Matters Contemplating or in Divorce by L. Burke Files. It is a great resource with no nonsense.


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Sharon said...

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Anonymous said...

I would just like to give some encouragement to all of you with a cheating partner and to those who need there lover back. My lover cheated on me The most hurtful experience was during a confrontation with the other woman when she came by my home looking for my boyfriend and looked surprised to see me there. I opened the door and asked what she wanted and she ignored me, i never knew My boyfriend has been having sex with her in our home, in our bed, My reaction was strange when she said that to me. I went and grabbed my boyfriend out of bed and shoved him out the front door. He was half asleep and very confused. I then went and grabbed his dirty clothes and threw them out on the porch with the two of them and told her that if she wanted him, she could have him, but she was taking his laundry too. I then called my friend and told her what had happened. She suggested I take the time to go through his phone. I found 3 other women and called them all. One he had lent my car too when he lied and told me it was in the shop. Another he had slept with when I was in the hospital recovering from sickness, The third was the one on my porch. They had all been seeing him continuously and he had told them we were only living together. The one on my porch didn’t even know I lived there. My ex told her I took off with another man and left all my stuff which is why she looked so shocked when I answered the door. i loved him so much i don't know why my love for him is so strong, i now have to find a solution to this problem on how i am going to get him back and put his life to shape, when first contacted dr.marnish@yahoo.com to help me because i have heard many thing about his love spell, I was doubting not knowing that he was my last solution, when i gave him the chance to help me after 3 days my lover returned home to reconcile with me, we are back now I'm so happy.
janeparker from USA