My Beautiful Divorce

25th March 2015 | By More

Beautiful divorceA year ago today, my wife and I decided to end our marriage.

But while our marriage had run its course, what we’ve found since then is that our friendship, relationship, and commitment to each other and the family we’d built, hadn’t.

We’d been friends for almost 10 years before we were a couple. We were a couple for 21 years, almost 17 of those married. Today, we’re in the midst of a beautiful divorce, one making us kind of sad that the phrase “conscious uncoupling” has been so beaten up and trivialized, because there’s none better to describe what we’re doing and how we’re trying to do it.

Like many marriages that expire, ours had probably run out years before we acknowledged it – to ourselves, or each other. There were quiet, always internal and individual, battles to hold-on to it, more than there ever were any to try and fix it. And I think we held on for as long as we each could, which, in retrospect, was almost certainly longer than we should have given how unhappy we both were.

Unspoken hurts and truths, stifled resentments and annoyances, brought each of us despair and sadness. Not just about our marriage, but about our family. In retrospect, we’d both ultimately given up on the marriage inside our own heads and hearts, but were both so afraid of what that meant for our children, that we couldn’t do anything more than try and subsist inside a status-quo that served no one, most of all our kids.

But all of that is what got us to here. And here is extraordinary. Here is a return to being friends. Here is a renewal of our commitment to raising our children and parenting together. Here is a place where we’re beginning to see what our family looks like moving forward, because we are still very much a family, just a different and happier one.

Friends have asked us if there was one event or moment that lead to the end. There wasn’t. Just as love tends not to be about any one thing…but more about every thing…that was the case with the end. And I handled it terribly, and we handled it badly, again, mostly because we were afraid.

But there came a moment when the fear of what might happen if we did something was suddenly less than the fear of what would happen if we did nothing. And while it wasn’t in this moment that our marriage ended, it was in this moment that we acknowledged it already had.

For me, this moment might be the best worst-moment of my life. It was the best moment because we were speaking and sharing a truth that need to be for the first time in years. Best, because without this moment our beautiful divorce could never have begun. My friend would not be back. My children would still be living in a far-from-happy home. She and I would still be swimming in loneliness and sadness.

It was the worst moment for perhaps all the obvious reasons. We were committing to changing everything that had mattered. Worst, because just speaking the truth doesn’t always immediately erase all the fears related to it. Worst, because I was afraid of what it meant for me, for her, and most importantly, for our kids who were old enough to understand some of it but without the true ability to process much of it.

Worst because life as I’d lived it for 21 years ended over a cup of coffee. Best, because life as I’d lived it for the past few years ended with that same cup of coffee.

Over the next couple of weeks we found ourselves looking at each other differently, moving around our shared space differently, as we tried to figure out what could survive the moment and the shift. Not knowing if either of us could as fully trust the other moving forward as we had so absolutely before was, in a word, awful. Trust was what had sustained us, even when being in-love faltered.

But then, like one of those old-school steam radiators in a NYC walk-up, the steam of anger, frustration, and words unspoken that had built up, started leaking out and being let go…and new space was created.

But when new space is created, when room is made for possibility, we can’t just leave it open, we have to hold it or fill it mindfully. So we did. When we stopped wearing the pressure of keeping things the same despite how bad they were, we were free to create a new version of our family and ourselves…together.

Our priorities are totally and fully aligned. It’s all about our kind, curious, and beautiful kids. So we have this still in common. And with this and without the pressures that were then released, we were reminded we still liked each other. We were reminded we still liked spending time together. And then we were reminded we still loved each other. It’s just a different love than it had been.

It’s more like the love we had for each other before we fell in love with each other. It’s the love of a beautiful friendship, and it’s become the love that is driving this beautiful divorce.

That it’s beautiful shouldn’t, by the way, be confused with it being easy. It isn’t and hasn’t been. But we’re finding our way through it, and through what’s not easy together, like we have for so long together, just differently.

We’re committed to the 4 of us remaining a “forever family,” understanding that others will come in and out of that forever family, as they are now, expanding it and changing it and adding to it, and what we learn about ourselves and each other.

In December, like some flashing neon wink and nod from above, the house next door came on the market for the first time in 40 years. So she and I bought it, took down the trees and fence separating the 2 properties, and are now building one new property…but one with 2 houses. We’ll each live in one, and the kids will move back and forth along the path we’re building between them. We’ll move along that path too, creating a flow along we hope will serve and protect our new family dynamic.

And so a year later, and by and large, our kid’s day-to-day lives haven’t changed at all, except for one thing. Now, they are once again surrounded by love and happiness and not swimming in the tide pools of their parents’ unspoken hurt and resentment and frustration. And there’s no doubt that even at their precious young ages, they were and are aware – and effected.

Our family is now a much happier one. Again filled with laughter, like, love, possibility, and energy. And the lesson that truths unspoken and fears not faced are always harder and worse than those met head-on has been taught to us again.

Eva and I had an amazing marriage for so many of our years together, but it ended.

It’s still early and who knows if this will work and what life will bring? Our marriage may have expired but our relationship and our friendship and our love for each other and our family have been renewed. Together we’ve come to realize that anything is possible, even in divorce.

Someone I love said it best when writing about her own divorce, saying she wouldn’t trade their years together for anyone else’s forever. And now, 1 year to the day later, I couldn’t say it better or agree more.

So happy Divorce Anniversary to my magnificent ex-wife.

Written by Seth Matlins (Divorced Dad)


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Category: Perspectives, Spouse

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