Considering Divorce? There's No Good Time To Say Goodbye
I recently posted a question to my friends on Facebook: what was the biggest regret in your divorce or the ending of a significant relationship? One response caught me by surprise because it is so true and so honest. The response was simple: the biggest regret was not ending the relationship sooner.
So many clients facing a divorce wrestle with this question and often stay in an unhappy and unhealthy relationship because of perceived barriers or responsibilities, many imagined and almost all surmountable.
The reasons vary across the spectrum: Holidays are coming; the kids are too young; finances are in disarray; the kids are adolescents and dealing with enough angst; that vacation is planned; he/she promised to stop working so much – or to begin working - to participate in family functions - to stop cheating/drinking/gambling; there is a pending promotion or demotion at work; you can’t deal with distractions and disruption right now; a family member is seriously ill and needs care; parental disappointment and blame; your partner will be devastated and has threatened to harm him or herself; graduations; weddings; Bar or Bat Mitzvahs; and on and on and on.
Generally, these are excuses. Some may be valid (which I will address in my next blog post) but in general it is simply a reason to delay what is so often inevitable.
Life won't stop. You cannot hit pause. There will always be an event; another seeming hurdle; another Christmas or Passover; and there will never be a time that will make this announcement and its resulting changes seamless and painless for the children, whether in preschool or college. In fact, I have observed in my practice that the longer you wait the more children appear to suffer. Never think for a minute that kids are not hyper-aware of the hostilities and dysfunctions of an unhappy marriage any more than you are. The sooner you acknowledge the elephant in the house the sooner acceptance and growth can commence. Until then it's all eggshells and hidden emotions ~ or outright and bitter battle. Neither approach works for anyone. Neither environment is healthy for the family – not you, your partner and most importantly the children caught in the deep freeze or the cross fire.
That does not mean that children should not be given extra attention and generally some form of counseling during this transition and long after the separation. But the children will survive and often thrive when removed from the unhealthy environment most children sense and experience when navigating their parents’ unhappiness.
Life goes on. That celebration or holiday will still be acknowledged. You will continue to work and hopefully achieve even more success as employment provides a healthy distraction. Your sick relative or family member will still be cared for. Your partner will not fall apart however much they attempt to convince you of your super-human ability to destroy. Family members will come around and hopefully support you. The finances will recover. That Bar Mitzvah or Sweet Sixteen will be celebrated.
And yes, the kids will be all right.