5 Amazing Things I'm Gaining By Losing My Marriage

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There can be positive in something so seemingly negative.

By Jenny Kanevsky

There is no question that divorce is hard. It's hard on the adults, and if kids are involved, it is that much more traumatic, devastating, scary and uncertain.

However, it does happen and there can be much to learn from a major life change. And some of it is good.

I'm still in the trenches, separated in January, still in mediation, but close to an agreement and finding my new normal. I can see, in the distance, and in some cases in the present, some positives. 

1. I am gaining strength through adversity.

I have sometimes heard "What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger" and thought, you know what, just go ahead and kill me. But, I'm still standing, albeit in my PJs all weekend with clinical depression trying to kick my ass. It will sideline me for awhile.

I'm not on Match.com and running out to meet a new partner. I'm not starting a new business or polishing off the edits on my next novel. I'm hunkered down, still slogging through paperwork and negotiations and animosity. I am feeling the impact on my body and psyche.

It will be awhile, but I have always been strong. And, I'm getting stronger every day.

2. I am already stronger as a parent; better divorced than I was married.

When you subtract the tension, the dysfunction, the years of unhappiness and compensating for each others' parenting styles, I see I have already become a stronger, more confident and calmer mother to my sons.

Yes, it's hard doing it all. But, my kids are older, so I'm not dealing with cribs, diapers, safety gates and other things than can make you wish you had four arms and eyes in the back of your head. They are 13 and nine. They still need me, but I can divide my time more easily. It's exhausting, but it’s doable. 

3. My children will have a more nurturing present father.

I cannot predict the future, nor will I have a say in how he parents them as a single dad. But he seems committed to being in our kids' lives with stability and routine. 

Our marriage was not a positive context for that. Not only did we become overwhelmed with our deteriorating relationship, but the dynamic of our division of labor was also such that I did more traditional "mom" parenting (nurturing, care-giving, school-related activities), and he did more "fun dad" parenting (baseball, Boy Scouts). He now has the opportunity to parent in his way, as do I, without either of us looking over our shoulder at a disapproving spouse.

This will be good for everyone: for him and his relationship with his sons, and for me as I get to be more than a mom, with the freedom to explore interests that been on hold. 

I want my boys to have a strong and healthy relationship with their dad, not just as fun dad, but as nurturer dad, as picking up from school dad, and as caregiver dad. And I want to be "fun mom," too. Now when we go on family vacations, I'll be the one splashing them in the pool—just me. And we'll have fun.

4. I am a more forgiving daughter.
My mother was a single mom. When she divorced, I was five, and my sister was an infant. She worked full-time and was on her own with little to no financial support from my father. I remember her struggling. I was angry about that for a long time. I felt cheated and felt like I wasn't a priority for her. I grew up fast and took care of myself. But, she was always there, even when we weren't speaking to each other.
And now, decades and many tearful, honest, heartfelt conversations later, I understand. I have forgiven her, and we have a stronger mother-daughter bond.
I also get it. I'm a single mom now. And, although I have a chronic illness that impacts my functioning, I don't work outside the home like she had to. Financially, that makes me vulnerable, but when it comes to being there for my kids, I am more available. I have a job, too, but it's being a stay-at-home mom. And I work as a writer, but I do that at home, too. I don't answer to an employer. I answer to myself and my children. My mother did not have that luxury.
5. Future happiness is possible.
I was in a dysfunctional, unhappy marriage for a long time. It wasn't always bad, but it deteriorated, and for a long time, we stayed together as it declined. It was inertia and young kids, and before we knew it, years had passed, and it was over. But, as a child of divorce, I know that miserable, married parents are far worse than divorced, happy parents. Our marriage was an unhealthy environment for everyone. Divorce is sometimes the healthiest alternative.
I am not at happiness yet, and neither are my children. We will get there. I don't know what my next chapter will be, but it will be mine. I will have my boys, who will eventually adjust and with good co-parenting, will be OK. And, I will write the rest of my story. I get to decide and reflect and look at what I want and at what will make me happy. I'm scared, I'm anxious, and I'm also excited.

Change is scary, but it is a part of life. Divorce is terrifying and, in some cases, the only option.

No matter what the vows say, there is no such thing as forever. People change, lives change, needs evolve. Some couples manage to navigate their personal changes and those of their partnership; they stay together. And others stay together due to inertia, fear or other reasons.

I choose change. I didn't at first, but now, I see it is what my next chapter will be. Change, new, mine, scary, exciting and everything will be more than OK. I will find my new normal, happiness, stability for my children and I'll get out of my PJs. I just know it. 


This article was originally published at The Good Men Project . Reprinted with permission from the author.

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