When I Told My Husband I Wanted a Divorce

I thought he felt the same way.

I really did.

When I told my husband that I wanted a divorce, I expected him to be relieved or at least not surprised.

In my mind our marriage had not been working for some time and I thought that he wanted out as much as I did.

Boy, was I wrong.  I don’t think it was because he was truly still in love with me or even really liked me that much, but to him our marriage was comfortable and familiar.

Change was not a friend to my husband.

I had all these fantasies about an “amicable divorce”.  We would both be committed to putting the well-being of our son first, we would get along, no one would get hurt.

Unfortunately, that’s not what happened.  I hurt my husband (even thought that was the last thing I wanted to do) and hurt people hurt people.  The next 5 years was a trip through hell for me.

This is not a post where I am going to bash and re-count every “terrible” deed of my now ex-husband – I have moved beyond that.

But I do want you to know that I have been through the nightmare.

The fighting, the tears, the threats, the blackmail.

What I wanted more than anything during that time was for someone, anyone to make my ex see how he was damaging our child (in my opinion).  How because he wasn’t behaving like I thought he should, he was wrong.

Why did he not get it?  Why couldn’t he be a rational person and see things my way?

He knew my buttons well and, intentionally or not, he was pushing every one of them.

I was living with extreme anxiety.  I never knew what each phone call or drop off would bring.  Would he be “ok” or would there be another blow up or tantrum over something insignificant.

It broke my heart to see my son caught in the middle and I wanted to know how to protect him, how to give him his own strength.

I had pages and pages of notebooks filled with dates and specific incidents and things said – just in case.  Just in case it got that bad that we ended up in court.  I thank God that it didn’t come to that.

So how did things change?

 I gave up

I gave up trying to change him.  I gave up trying to turn him into a “better father”.  I stopped beating my head against that proverbial brick wall and walked away instead.

I stopped accepting the invitations to the fights.  I stopped trying to exert my power over him and empowered myself to control my reactions.

I had faith that as long as I was a good mom and always tried to do right by my son and let him know how much we was loved by both me and his father, that it would all be okay.

Somewhere along the way, my ex started to change as well.  I’m not really sure what happened.  Actually, maybe it was more my perception that changed.  I can’t know for sure.

Yes, sometimes there are still little flare-ups but they stay little because I am able to just let go.

To not take it personally

To just say “okay, he must be having a bad day” and move on instead of letting it push my buttons.

I has now been 8 years since the divorce and I am still floored sometimes by the progress that has been made.

I was sure that our relationship would never get better – that my son would have to choose which of us he wanted more at this wedding (me, of course!) because his father would refuse to attend if I and my new husband were in attendance.

I would never have imagined that my ex, my son, myself, and my new husband would be sitting down to dinner together on a somewhat regular basis.

And my son? 

He is doing just fine.  He still spends half his time with me and half with his father.  I think he had the whole letting go thing down a long time ago.  So maybe he was teaching me as I was trying to protect him.

In the end, it can all be summed up (as can most things) by the Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things that I can

And the Wisdom to know the difference.

 

The Secret to Letting Go of Anger After Divorce

Let’s face it – anger and resentment (what I like to think of as silent anger) are natural parts of any divorce.

You may feel anger over the past events of your marriage that may have led to the divorce.  You many feel anger over what is going on in your life now; how your ex is treating you or resentment that your life has changed.

You may feel anger over how your future has changed from the fantasy you had on your wedding day.

The Dangers of Anger

While anger may be natural and it can serve a purpose – such as pushing you out of a toxic situation.  If you allow yourself to stay in anger too long it can lead you to play the victim role.  Anger gives away your power.

The mindset becomes that because someone else is to blame and they have “done this” to you, you are not responsible or powerful enough to move forward.

Most people hold on tight to anger at their ex-spouse.  They repeat the story about how they were wronged over and over to others, but most importantly, they also repeat it over and over to themselves.

They spend their life waiting for that apology that never comes and they live in the “if onlys”.  If only my husband had treated me better, if only he wouldn’t be such a jerk when I drop off the kids, etc – then my life would be better.

Holding on to anger and resentments leaves you stuck.  Stuck in the victim role and stuck in the past.

But how do you begin to let go?  You feel you were wronged and you have a right to those feelings.  However, the 1st step is to recognize that you need to move beyond the anger to create a better life for you and your kids.

The Secret Way to Move Beyond Anger

What is the most effective way to let go of the anger towards your ex?  Pray for him.  I know it sounds ridiculous and you might be rolling your eyes about now, but just bear with me here.

But what if I am not religious or I don’t believe in God?  That’s perfectly fine.  I didn’t either when I started, but I did it anyway.

You can choose anything you want to pray to.  The sky, a tree, a picture of your kids, a candle, a door knob, whatever – it doesn’t matter.  The point is to just think the thoughts.

And what thoughts are you supposed to think anyway?  Try not to make it result based like “please make my ex treat me better”.  Don’t dwell on the negative, what is not happening.  Instead pray from a positive place.

I personally pray that God wraps my ex in His Grace, that he finds true happiness and that God shines His light brightly along his path so that he can be freed from his struggles.

You should do this even when you are really mad – especially then.  It may be hard, but force yourself to think these loving thoughts.  This is not about God or the Universe “changing” your ex.  It is about changing your mindset from cursing your ex to blessing him.

Do it even when you don’t feel it.  Fake it until you make it.

My Experience

I first came across this secret as I sat in a recovery program meeting.  Someone was discussing how she had started praying for her long ago ex who had been abusive.

They had been apart many years and she had no direct contact with him, but the old feelings would rise up when discussing him with her adult children.

She started praying and found relief for herself.

So I thought I would give it a try.  This was back when things were really bad with my ex-husband.  I did it practically every day before I went to sleep, but I didn’t really think about the results.  In fact, I didn’t even consciously notice them.

When I was starting this website and reflecting upon the path that my ex and I had taken – how we went from threats, verbal abuse, and blackmail to actually being friends I had a hard time nailing down what had changed.  Yes, I knew that I had changed through hard work and the ideas discussed on this site, but how did his change come about?  When exactly did that happen?

When I started thinking of this particular article and the practice of prayer, a light bulb went off in my head.  A great, big “a-ah” moment.  I started praying, things changed.  I don’t know how or why but that doesn’t really matter.  Maybe it was a coincidence or maybe it was the natural progression of things.  Maybe it was my changed attitude or maybe it was something more.  All I know is that things are better and that is all that matters so I will continue to pray for him each night.

Your Takeaway

Letting go of anything, but especially anger and resentment starts with your mindset, with your thoughts.   Whatever you can do to turn those thoughts around will have a much more profound effect than just wishing that your ex will change.  He may or he may not – you have no control over that.  What you can control is your thinking and your attitude and saying a prayer for those who challenge us is one way to start that process.

The 5 Mistakes That Turn a Phone Call With Your Ex Into a Living Nightmare

When you are divorced with children there is no getting out of having to communicate with your ex.  I’m sure sometimes you wish that you never had to speak to him again, but that’s not going to happen – so it’s time to deal with reality.

Today we are going to talk about how to have a productive, civil phone conversation with your ex.  I have found that phone conversations are often more volatile than in person talks.

The phone provides that layer of “safety”.  We are more inclined to say things we wouldn’t say in person – plus we can delude ourselves that our kids are not “hearing” this conversation, so we tend to just let it fly.

Here are 5 common mistakes that we make when having that phone conversation that often leave us either in tears or wanting to pull our hair out.

Angry Dialing

It doesn’t matter what triggers it – your child making an innocent remark about daddy’s new “friend” or that he let them stay up way too late.  The end result is you are steaming mad – steam actually coming out of your ears, your heart racing, your blood pressure sky high.

Your first instinct is to pick up that phone and give him a piece of your mind.  Please don’t.  Nothing good or productive will come of it.

Instead follow the 24 hour rule.  Do not mention it to your ex for 24 hours.  Go outside and pull weeds, punch a pillow, anything but pick up that phone.  If possible have no contact with him during that time.

After the 24 hours, ask yourself “How important is it?”  If you can let it go and move on – do so.  If you still feel the issue needs to be addressed you can now address the real concerns you have without coming off as a screaming banshee.

Accepting an Invitation to a Fight

There will be times when your ex “angry dials” you – there is nothing you can do about that, but you can control your reaction.

I remember once my phone rang and I answered and said “hello”.  What I got in return was nothing but a minute long rant being spewed from the receiver which ended with my ex hanging up.

I literally didn’t even say a word.  I practically had to sit on my hands to keep myself from calling back and asking “what the f# @&?”

Most of the time you won’t be so lucky, the hurting and angry person on the other end of the line wants you to react, to engage in this fight.  This is where the STOP phrases come in handy.  “Sorry you feel that way”, “That’s your opinion”, “Oh”, and “Perhaps you are right”.

The last one is my personal favorite – it kind of stops him in his tracks.  If you just keep repeating these lines in any appropriate combination, one of two things will happen.  He will get frustrated and hang up or he will calm down.

If he hangs up, you can be proud that you did not play a part in escalating this fight.  If he calms down, you can either catch your breath and let the negativity you were barraged with dissipate and continue the conversation or take a small break (say you have to pee or something) if you need to center yourself even more and then continue the conversation.

Banging Your Head Against a Brick Wall

Your ex has issues (we all do).  There are things you disagree about, things he does differently than you, things he believes that you don’t, maybe a different parenting style.  You couldn’t change him when you were married.  Guess what?  It’s not going to happen now either.

Do yourself a favor and stop trying.  It only frustrates you and destroys your peace of mind.  Unless there is a real danger to your children (in which case you should be seeking legal advice), let it go.

You don’t want to walk around with a bruised forehead from that wall do you?  You no longer have the power to knock it down (you probably never did).  It may come down one day on its own, but it won’t be because of your lectures.

Feeling PHAT

I do not mean that you can’t get into your jeans.  I am talking about your state of mind and making sure none of the following are affecting your good sense and attitude before you pick up the phone.

  • Are you in pain?  Do you have a headache, a stomachache, any ailment?  P can also stand for PMSing.  Either way, it is probably not a good time to try to have a productive conversation.
  • Are you hungry?  This is a big one for me.  If I am hungry I become really cranky and you do not want to be around me until I’ve had some food.
  • Are you angry?  I’m not just talking about being angry with your ex, but are you angry at your boss, the rude driver on the ride home, anybody?
  • Are you tired?  If you are tired it affects your ability to concentrate and to be rational.  A conversation will probably leave you feeling overwhelmed.

So before picking up the phone, check for these feelings and try to correct them beforehand.  If your ex is calling you, do a quick check and if you find something that needs to be corrected, don’t answer – call him back after you have eaten or taken a nap.

Now, I know there will be times when you have to answer (when your kids are with him and it could be an emergency, etc).  If that is the case, do a quick check and if you find a PHAT, take a breath, try to center yourself and pick up the phone.  Just know that you are not at your best.

If possible, once you know it is not an emergency try to put off the conversation until later after you have taken care of you.

Being Mean

I know sometimes it can be tempting to get in our little jabs when we see an opening, but try to resist.  The consequence it has on your relationship with your ex and therefore on the well-being of your children is just not worth it.

So, say what you mean, mean what you say, but don’t say it mean.  This might take a little practice.  It’s ok to rehearse in advance.  Go ahead and talk to yourself in the mirror.  Most of the time it won’t go exactly as planned, but you still will be ahead of the game.

Summary

The most important thing to remember is that while it might take two to tango, you only have control over yourself.  You can only change your way of interacting with your ex.

At first it might seem unfair – you’re trying to be civil and he is continuing to be hostile, etc.  But don’t give up.  Give it some time.  Be proud of yourself for all the changes you are making to create more peace for yourself and your children.

Change what you can control, let go of what you can’t.