Sometimes happiness comes under the most unexpected of circumstances.

The Victimless Divorce

Posted: July 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: tips for a peaceful divorce | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments »

My kids' wonderful dad

I am so appreciative of my guest blogger Lori and her piece “The Friendly Divorce.”  Not only is it great to know that there are others who have found a way to have peaceful relations with their former spouses, but it also reminds me of some of the lessons that I have learned along the way of my divorce.  Some of the commentators on Lori’s post revealed that they wished they had had a role model like her when they went through a divorce.  When my ex and I broke up, I felt the same way, and so I called the only friend I had who had divorced amicably and asked her how she did it.  She made two points that I will never forget, two lessons that Lori also emphasized.  Never make yourself a victim and always let your kids believe that they have the best father ever.

As Lori highlighted, it is really easy to blame your spouse for the breakdown of the marriage or the ensuing conflict.  My friend Julia had discovered that her husband had been having an affair for three years, so if any one was entitled to feel like she had been wronged, it was her.  My own ex had initiated our breakup and he had also become infatuated with someone else (it was never consummated but it was hurtful nonetheless), so I was feeling very justified in my anger.  Julia’s advice to me hit home, though, because I realized that it didn’t feel good to be a victim.  It made me feel powerless, and that’s not a place I enjoy at all.  As Lori stated, playing the blame game only deepens the cycle of victimization and leads to more resentment and anger.  Every time I blamed my ex for our breakup, it would only propel him to point out all the things that I did wrong and then we would travel down an ugly path that just brought more unhappiness to us both.  My mom gave me wise advice, Failing to forgive someone is like taking poison and hoping that the other person dies.  In other words, portraying yourself as a victim only makes you feel worse.  I noticed that as soon as I stopped reminding my ex how he had done me wrong, our relationship vastly improved (big surprise, huh?).

I also realized that I couldn’t portray my ex in a positive light to our kids if I was constantly focused on his betrayal and abandonment.  Lori hit the nail on the head when she said that intense anger inevitably infects your kids, no matter how well you think you are masking it.  Julia said it beautifully when she told me that the greatest gift you can give your kids is to let them know that they have a wonderful father.  So I made that my goal.  I would ask them about the fun things that they did with him, I would remind them of the ways in which he treated them tenderly, and most importantly, when they noticed tension between us, I was quick to tell them that no one was to blame.  In other words, I actively cultivated appreciation for my ex as a father and I sought to instill the same feelings in my kids.  And that has made all the difference in the world.

Like Lori, who said that her mantra was to be proud tomorrow of what she did today, I feel that the way that I have handled my divorce is one of my life’s greatest achievements.  I feel proud that under the worst of circumstances, I was able to demonstrate poise, compassion and wisdom.  Shakespeare has famously written that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.  In my less poetic terms, I would say that heaven hath no bliss like a woman at peace.

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7 Comments on “The Victimless Divorce”

  1. 1 Margaret said at 3:11 pm on July 8th, 2010:

    If, for some freakish, freakish, scary awful reason Husband and I divorce post-spawning, I hope we can manage to stay friends.

    Losing your spouse AND a close friend would be…just oof.

    And as a child of divorce myself, it’s never Good. But you can make it Less Bad if you try.

  2. 2 Sara T said at 8:29 am on July 9th, 2010:

    Molly, this one hit home for me. Like you, I often feel like I won the parent lottery. Only in my case, I have four parents.

    I was 9 when my parents split after twenty years, 13 when they divorced. The greatest gift they gave me was their civility and continued care for each other. I knew they weren’t married, but I also knew that they cared about each other, not as husband and wife, but as our parents. I could count on them, and they could count on each other.

    There isn’t a better gift you can give your kids than the welcome you show your ex. More than anything, kids need to understand on some fundamental level that adults are adults, responsible for their emotions and actions. And if you and Hugo find somebody with whom you want to spend the rest of your life — power to you. Your kids will benefit from the multiplicity of love instead of suffering under the weight of negativity.

  3. 3 Molly said at 3:52 pm on July 9th, 2010:

    Thanks for the input, Sara. I love hearing about others’ positive experiences.

  4. 4 Lori @ In Pursuit of Martha Points said at 5:21 pm on July 13th, 2010:

    “My mom gave me wise advice, Failing to forgive someone is like taking poison and hoping that the other person dies.”

    These are the best words I’ve heard in a long, long time.

    I didn’t have this spelled out to me so clearly, so I stumbled around a while before I found it (probably, even if I *had* heard them, I would have stumbled.)

    And I’m so glad you like the post – it was very therapeutic to write it. And you’ve created such a lovely blog to contribute to here.

    Now I need to read your sisters post!

  5. 5 Molly Monet said at 8:42 am on July 14th, 2010:

    I know. Those words really impressed me too. Understanding them and putting them into practice are two very different things, though.
    Writing is therapeutic, isn’t it?

  6. 6 Molly Monet said at 9:39 pm on July 19th, 2010:

    Margaret- I am sorry that I never responded. Your comments ended up in my spam. I agree with you, which I why I insisted on us being friends. Losing such an important person in my life completely would be too much to take.

  7. 7 Family Law West Palm Beach said at 8:51 pm on January 10th, 2014:

    Wonderful post and very inspiring message. There’s so little to be gained from a vengeful mindset or negativity, especially if children are part of the picture. The path you chose was the right one.
    Family Law West Palm Beach recently posted..Divorce and Children During the Holidays

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