At some point in your divorce, you’re going to ask yourself, “WHY?” Your why may show up as “Why did our marriage end in divorce?” Or it might show up as “Why can’t we make it work out?” At the core of your question is a quest for understanding the cause of your divorce.
More often than not, these questions of why turn into blame. Blame because it’s so much easier to put the blame on them for making us hurt so much. And in a way it makes sense because they’re the one that had the affair, or they’re the one that wouldn’t be open about their feelings, or they’re the one that kept nagging, or they’re the one with the addiction, or they’re the one that fell out of love, or they’re the one with the mental health problems, or they’re the one that’s so selfish, or …. And you know what? These are all FABULOUS reasons to be upset with the other person and to know that the end of the marriage really is THEIR fault.
But if you really want to move past the hurts, pain and blame and be happy again, there’s another side to the story of the end of your marriage. The other side is your part. What was your part in the ending of your marriage? This is where the real understanding of the end of your relationship lies and what you’ll need to know before your next relationship if you don’t want your personal history to repeat itself.
In addition to giving your next relationship an even better chance of surviving, understanding your part in the end of your marriage has another important benefit. The other benefit of doing this work is that you’ll likely develop a deeper sense of self-love because you’ll know and appreciate yourself even more.
So I’ll bet you’re wondering how to start identifying your part in the ending of your marriage when it’s so obviously THEIR fault? Well, the first step is to become clear about what a good, healthy marriage is. I believe the easiest way to explain it is with the diagram in the upper right of this blog. (I wish I knew how to put the image here, but I’m word press challenged.)
The diagram shows two people each in their individual bubbles of healthy boundaries and their own interesting lives. These two independent people choose to be together inside the larger bubble of the marriage.
If you’re getting divorced, it’s highly unlikely that this diagram represents your marriage.
Now that you see what a healthy marriage looks like, getting down and dirty with the truth of what your marriage diagram would look like is the next step. In the diagram representing your marriage, maybe only one of you had your own personal bubble. Maybe one of you left the marriage completely up to the other person. Maybe neither of you had personal bubbles. Maybe the kids were part of the marriage instead of part of the family. Maybe neither of you had personal bubbles. Hopefully, you’re getting some ideas of what your marriage looked like and are able to draw a diagram representing it.
After you have created the diagram that represents your marriage, I believe the next step is best described by the Serenity Prayer.
God, Grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
This simple prayer is jam-packed with meaning.
First, it says there are some things you just cannot change – things like the weather or the past or another person. The best you can do is to accept those things.
Second, it says that for everything else, everything that you can change that you have the courage to change it. The funny thing is that just about the only thing that you have the truest ability to change is you. You can change what you do and you can also change your thoughts. Beyond that, you don’t have a whole bunch of control or ability to change. But, believe it or not, changing your thoughts is probably the most profoundly powerful thing you can do.
Finally, it says that it takes wisdom to know the difference between the things you can change and the things you can’t. It really does! How often do we confuse what we think someone else should do to make us feel better as something that we can change? Pretty often, in my experience.
Now that you’re clear on the fact that you can only really change you, take another look at your marriage diagram. What can you do differently in the future to change that diagram to be more like the ideal, good marriage diagram? What different thoughts might you have in the future to create a new diagram in the way you want?
Once you have those answers, you’ll know what your part in the failure of your marriage was. You’ll understand why.
Your Functional Divorce Assignment:
Assess your readiness to do this work. Just because you’re reading this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ready to do the work. This is deep work and it’s completely fine if you’re not able to do it right now. If this is you, save this and revisit it when you are ready. Maybe you’re only able to do part of the work now. That’s great because you’ll be part of the way to understanding why. Or you might ready to do this work now. If so, get to work and be sure to be gentle with yourself.
Be willing to ask for help. This work is so deep that it’s easy to get lost or confused while doing it. If that happens to you, don’t worry, it’s not your fault. It’s just part of being human and hurting. Just ask for help. You can find help from all kinds of sources - even from blog posts.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And if you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.
© 2013 Karen Finn. All rights reserved under all copyright conventions.