It wasn’t expected. There wasn’t another person, we tried to communicate, we went to counseling. It just came down to: “I don’t love you anymore.”
Leaving was hard, my biggest fear was how will this affect my son and how can I mitigate hurting my husband? I knew he wouldn’t want me to leave but I was leaving because I needed to. I felt I was doing this to everyone else and that the pain was because of me, so I felt a lot of responsibility for that. But I understood that I didn’t want to model a loveless relationship for my son. I knew I needed to give my son a model for living his life the way he chooses out of respect for himself and the other people. Respect means not pretending to be something that you’re not. And for me, that meant moving on from that relationship.
There are so many things that go into how you choose to separate and divorce. There was a moment when my ex-spouse and I went: “well, how though? who will help us?” The easy part was deciding it was going to be mediation, from the beginning, I was looking for mediation.
I was very lucky that I didn’t need to convince my spouse, he wanted mediation too. Because we’re people who are thoughtful, kind, and considerate, who were going into the separation wanting the best for everybody, mediation was an easy pick for us. The choice was clear, the mediation got difficult to be sure, but it stayed clear that was the right process for us.
For me, understanding the mediation process was in terms of what it means in relation to marriage was important. By getting married, you’re committing to this person. And mediation continues that commitment through separation. It is a better way of doing it on an emotional level.
We worked through some pretty hard things. Because of the legal nature of the choices, my family made around our property, I honestly never felt the ending was fair economically. But it was legal; I would’ve lost a lot more if we hadn’t done mediation. According to the law I would’ve had to give up a family cabin that was in my name. And because we were meeting face to face as humans, even if we disagreed, instead of doing a back and forth between family lawyers, I felt like my needs could be met even when I didn’t get the outcome I wanted.
It worked for us, even though we had some real difficulties. We are humans and we were humanized by the process instead of turning into a separate combative place. To me, this worked for us because our situation wasn’t simple. We fought over everything, even the dishes, but in the process of fighting, it was still very human. Rather than saying “let’s see what I can get away with”, we balanced our gains and losses because it was important to us to honour the relationship that we had for many years. Even at the hardest parts, at least we felt we were being honoured.
We didn’t get along, and we disagreed about a lot of things. But we aligned our biggest priority, which was keeping a stable home for our son.
In the process we thought a lot about him, how is this going to affect him, how can we keep our child from being hurt? That was the next stage for us. My previous spouse was angry about the separation, but the emotions between us were never going to hurt our child and we both were committed to that. We were always trying to find the best in this really crappy situation.
Our mediator was able to see us and talk to us from our point of view, I felt very understood by our mediator. After listening to our perspectives, she showed us the pathways we could take so no one felt left out or robbed by the situation, she helped us honour what each of us needed. It was about listening. Our mediator did a great job of listening so we felt heard and valued, which modeled how we needed to behave in that situation. We had to listen. It helped enormously; no sides were being taken. It was a calm return to “let’s explore this situation, what are the needs, what are the questions, what are the legalities, here’s what you can and can’t do” it was always returning to being reasonable adults putting the best interests of our child in the forefront.
Our son was very lucky. He has two parents who were able to recognize that he was the most important part of this equation, and we were going to make damn sure he gets everything he needs to become a good, strong man. He was 7 at the time and we involved him in the decisions around where he was going to live and how the transitions were going to be. We had always given him the right to voice his opinions and thoughts. He might not have been able to understand everything, but he always had a voice in anything we did. In a way, the economic part was harder because we had one less opinion, but we knew it wouldn’t be appropriate to have him involved in the conversations around money or property.
Our final part of my story is a little harder for me, I don’t know how it was for him, but we waited 11 years before finalizing the divorce. Once again, it was because we came into a meeting and talked about who we are as people and what we needed and had someone with us who could walk us through that without losing sight of the other person. Even through the hard stuff, we were brought together enough to make things work in the end. If I had it to do again, I would’ve finished the whole thing at once. The reason we waited was that I was still irritated about how things ended but waiting created an open space of it never feeling quite resolved. It feels like more than a formality when it’s happening, it brings up old feelings when you have a loose end to tie up.
I’m a very self-aware person so when I realized I wasn’t happy in my marriage, I wasn’t content to stay in that situation. Since leaving that relationship, I’ve been happy. I’ve set up my world to focus on being happy. I’m in a new relationship, living in a new home, and planning on getting married soon. It is because I knew I couldn’t stay in the situation I was in before and maintain my happiness that I have been able to find peace and happiness now. I’ve learned so much about different perspectives and why communication is so damn important. My new partner and I communicate so well and my world has been much better because now I fully understand how important communication is between partners.
If I could change the world in one way, I would let people know that deciding you need to be a healthy person isn’t just for you, it’s for everyone. And you have the freedom to do what’s healthy and right for you, even if people are hurt. The final results are worth the challenges.