There is the coward’s way, coming from denial and anger, or there is the courageous way of facing your pain and truth. Either way will be painful. The second way, dealing with it directly will be tougher in the short run. The first way of denial and projection may get you out of the marriage, but it won’t get you out of the pain or the pattern that created the bad marriage.
Old models of divorce
As men we don’t get many models of how to stand up with our emotions and needs. Even though we have them, we are taught to man up and just get the job done. What do you do when you can’t get the job done, when with all you know and do the marriage is still not working?
Chances are your default to getting out of the marriage will parallel your getting into the marriage. If you kept your mouth shut though the courtship you will likely keep it shut through the disintegration of the marriage. Hey, I am a guy – I know how you want to just “get over it.” You don’t want to deal with her complaining, crying and being emotional.
You know she will flip out if you were to discuss divorce. So what do you do? Some men and women will do what a wife of an old friend of mine did. She left a note on the kitchen table for her husband woke up telling him she was moving out and filing for divorce. For Walt, that was the first news that the marriage was in trouble.
I suspect now, months later, as he looks back he can see there were signs of trouble. Prior discussions of what is not working usually don’t change the outcome. They just change the people.
New models for divorce
It is easier to end a relationship in anger than in sadness, or that is what we think. I know it is easier for me to be pissed off than to feel the loss of what I so dearly loved at one time. The anger might get you moving. It won’t facilitate the healing you will need to go through to not recreate the pattern.
I have a friend who gave up the practice of law to practice mediation. Debra told me several years ago during the height of the boom the average divorce cost $70,000 per person when the divorcing couple could use their home equity to pay for it. You can imagine how much fighting was going on in those divorces. For most of Debra’s mediation clients the ending of the marriage is a healing. The marriage still ends, but the friendship and mutual respect don’t.
Both women and men need help to not fall into a reactionary place of feeling victimized. For some it can be therapy. For a growing number, fueled by the economics of divorce, mediation is the guide to ending a marriage.
Susan Pease Gadoua wrote an excellent guide to not being a coward in your divorce – How Not to Tell Your Spouse You Want Out of the Marriage. She gives you what to watch for and how to step through it and not around it.
Man up to the pain. Admit that in some way you co-created the demise of your marriage. Maybe you knew from the beginning, but you didn’t listen to yourself or speak your feelings. Admit, at least to yourself, that in some way you helped cause the divorce. Yes, even if she cheated on you. You don’t have to understand it all or take full responsibility for what occurred. Just own some part of it so you can step out of being the victim.
If you need help in ending the marriage – GET IT.
Over the years many men come to our groups seeing their group as the hand holder for them through their divorce. Some just want to be consoled. Others want to get their lessons and healing. Many of those men discover six months later they have a relationship with their wife they never thought possible.
The best thing for many marriages and people is not to stay married. For some there is great potential in communicating in new ways. I have seen with my friend Leslie’s relationship coaching men and women transform themselves, which has meant, in some cases, transformed marriages. So much of what Leslie does for her clients is teach them skills no one taught or modeled for them. You can’t be expected to build a house without plans, tools or know how. How can you expect to have a great marriage without the needed skills?
I know as guys once we make a decision it is easier to stick to it and get the job done. You fret over the break up, then you make the decision to end the marriage so you want to just do it. Underneath the desire to end it is the pain and possibly the transformation of the marriage. Take a chance, start speaking now. If you need help in speaking your truth have the courage to get it.
The work you do at the front end will pay off at the back end. It might be harder and longer this way. It certainly will set up for a better relationship next time, either with your current partner or another woman.
What makes it difficult for you to speak to your partner?