Staying Positive During Divorce, Separation and Marital Troubles
The holiday season is supposed to be a time of joy, thanksgiving, and family celebration. The truth is that the holidays can be a stressful time, even more so if you’re having marital troubles. Even though this blog is called “Married Runners”, we know that many of our readers have been divorced, are currently separated, or going through some tough marital troubles. If that describes you or a friend, then please read on – this article is for you.
You’re Not Alone
Joe was married once before and Mary Catherine’s parents were divorced. Marriage is tough. In an upcoming blog post, we’ll share about how our marriage hit the rocks during the recession and how we bounced back. Many of our best friends, some who may be reading this right now, have experienced divorce firsthand. No matter what the circumstances are, it’s a very painful experience – whether you have kids or not. During the holiday season when families come together, it can be especially difficult and stressful – you might feel like you want to hide from everyone. We know what it’s like to “pretend” everything’s okay or be subjected to moral lecturing. None of that ever helps.
You Don’t Owe Anyone An Explanation
Depending upon your religious beliefs, you took a carefully worded vow to enter a lifelong commitment with another person. When that relationship fails, you may feel like a failure. Making matters worse, many marriages are public affairs and when trouble starts, people get nosy. If you’re having marriage problems, it’s up to you to decide what (if anything) you want to share. People are very quick to assign blame and judgment. Every situation is unique and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You might feel like if you don’t answer people’s questions, people are going to say bad things about you. If you do answer questions about what happened, you might say something you later regret. Use discretion and be careful with whom you confide in. If you have a friend going through a divorce, just be there for them – they’ll share when they’re comfortable to do so.
You Are Going to Be Judged
I wish it wasn’t so – but it is. The haters are going to hate no matter what you say or do. Whether it’s a Church, your family, gossipy co-workers, or an actual Judge (to settle matters) you will be judged – many times unfairly. Although this isn’t a religious blog per se, Mary Catherine and Joe are both Christians. We were both subjected to an incredible amount of judgment when we got married. One Atlanta-area Church refused to let us get married. Another Church refused to let Joe serve Communion (a Christian tradition and honor) because he had been married once before – taking a very narrow interpretation of an obscure Bible reference. It was heart-breaking – especially given the true circumstances of the situation. As is true in many other matters of life – money, relationships, politics – most people make up their minds and judge a situation well in advance of having the facts. A proven solution for that – “Forgive them, they know not what they do.”
Divorce as a DNF
If you’re an athlete, then you probably already know that DNF means “Did Not Finish” – a term used to describe a race you quit running. There are very valid reasons to DNF, just as there is divorce. Just as you shouldn’t stay in a race where you might be doing permanent damage to your body, you shouldn’t stay in a marriage that is causing permanent damage to your well-being. We’re not going to lecture you about what the valid reasons are, that’s up for you to decide. What we will say is that divorce, like a DNF, is not the end of the world (although it may feel that way). In fact, a DNF/divorce often paves the way for a better future outcome. I know that’s the case with us! Had it not been for the divorce, we wouldn’t have met and married.
Tips on Staying Positive
Keeping the above in mind, here’s some specific suggestions on how to stay positive during divorce, separation, or marital troubles.
- Know that you are loved – you are loved by your family, friends, and us!
- Get close to your children – they’re going to be hurt and confused, just as you are. You’ll get through it together and be stronger for it.
- Don’t be ashamed – humans aren’t perfect and human relationships are far from perfect.
- Be nice to yourself – you’re likely to have some free time as the size of your family changes. Use that opportunity to do something nice for yourself!
- Seek support – having a friend or professional to confide in can help you get perspective.
- Ignore the nosy people – no matter what you say or don’t say, people are going to be judgmental.
- Keep in mind the big picture – time really does heal relationship wounds. You have many years ahead.
- Take things slow – move at your own pace, it’s your life. Don’t feel pressure to date again.
- Go for a run – running seems to add perspective to life and since this is a running blog, we think it might just be the therapy you need!
No matter what your family situation is or what you might be going through, we love you and appreciate you reading our blog. Happy Holidays, Hanukkah and Merry Christmas.
Joe & Mary Catherine