I’ve been thinking about why so many marriages end in acrimonious divorce. People who once declared they would love each other forever end up fighting over who gets the towels and linens, or something equally insignificant. It doesn’t have to be that way, if we could do a better job of honoring the transition of divorce. Here are some patterns I’ve noticed with couples who don’t manage the transition gracefully.
1. Losing themselves in the relationships: this is incredibly common, and is considered normal for most people. But it’s not healthy and is the largest contributing factor to women in their 40’s or early 50’s who suddenly decide they need to leave their partner to “find themselves”.
2. Not being honest with each other: this inflicts pain in a relationship on so many levels. If your partner asks if everything’s OK and it’s not, it’s your responsibility to speak your truth. You can speak the truth without being mean by making “I” statements.
3. Ignoring differences in philosophies and/or strategies for dealing with things like money, sex and child rearing. Disagreements over differences in money styles are the number one reason couples argue, and sex and child rearing are the second and third reasons couples fight.
4. Ignoring small signs: you may notice your partner doesn’t kiss you good-bye anymore, or one partner suddenly has a slew of evening meetings, for example. It may be valid, or it could be a sign of a cheating spouse.
5. Not asking for what they need: when one partner feels like they do the lion’s share of the work, that person will begin to feel resentful of the other partner. If you can’t ask for the help you need, the situation will go from bad to worse.
Making the transition from marriage to divorce can be done without hating each other. It requires a certain level of maturity on the part of both partners, and an understanding that marriage is a crucible for personal development. Partners come together to learn certain things about themselves, and to grow emotionally and spiritually. When we can honor the possibility that we come together for these reasons, we can begin to honor the person who assisted us with learning the lessons.
Part of the pain and suffering that women experience at the end of a marriage is the death of a fantasy. Instead of living in the fairy tale world of “till death do us part”, if we look at marriage as the crucible it really is, we can heal more quickly, learn our lessons and move on. Prince Charming is a myth. And by the way, so is the perfect princess.