It may take two to say “I do,” but you only need one to say it’s over. This is a harsh reality that many of my divorce clients grapple with during our first meeting, and often the one leaving gets villified for being the one to abandon his/her family, break the vows, and take the easy way out. But let me just stop right here– the easy way out is not so simple, and leavers will often have a tremendous amount of guilt and doubt to work through long after the divorce is over. It may take them years to recover emotionally and/or financially after calling it quits, and yet the only regret is usually not having pulled the plug sooner. Why? Let me try to help you understand things from this perspective…
Imagine you walked down the aisle thinking you were the luckiest person in the world. You were marrying your best friend and thought you would spend the rest of your lives together and be happy. And things may have been really good for a while, and there was a lot of fun and laughter in those early years when you were both still young and relatively carefree. Yet, ever so slowly, things started to change, and soon you found yourself in the position of being a nag. Or maybe the stress of work or raising kids created this huge wedge between you that just kept growing over time. Maybe someone with poor coping skills developed an addiction to alcohol or drugs, or worse became abusive, violent and had huge anger management issues. Perhaps neither of you were aware of underlying psychological issues like depression, anxiety, bipolar or a borderline personality disorder that only surfaced after the marriage. Some things truly come to light only after years of being together, and not all disorders can be fixed with some prescription for a “happy pill.”
The more upset you become about your home life, the less capable you become in other areas of your life. These situations will take a toll on you, and you may find you’ve lost your appetite, that your immune system is compromised, or that you’ve become increasingly irritable by the tiniest of things, and you wonder how did I lose my sense of humor or zest for life? As the disappointment grows, and you cease to feel special at home, you will become increasingly aware of the fact that you are living a terrible lie. Keeping up the facade will become unbearable, and death may even start to seem appealing compared to the torturous existence of living with a ghost– a person that looks like someone you once loved profoundly, but that person has long since died.
If you try your best to address the issues in your relationship, but find yourself getting no where, you will eventually hit rock bottom, and I promise you there will be a moment where you will ask yourself, “how can I continue to live this way?” Only by hitting rock bottom will you then realize, I’ve got to go. You have to leave, in order to save yourself. It’s not that the other person is necessarily “evil” or “bad” it is that co-existing together has ceased to be a viable option. The last thing you want to be is Mr. & Mrs. Twit in R. Dahl’s book, where that lovely wedded couple wound up killing each other. And so you leave, so that both of you can live.
Having left several situations myself, and after 15 years of helping others through their divorce, I am telling you from all these experiences that leaving is never easy, but then again doing the right thing is rarely easy.
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.