Editor-In-Chief of Modern Gladiator Martin Alvarez requested me to write this article.
I have been writing for Modern Gladiator from the pinpoint of a “Modern Dad,” but now I’m going to expand my viewpoint:
For the next four articles, my wife Ann and I are going to write about if it makes sense to atiay married or get a divorce. Is it cheaper to keep her?
Ann and I both went through divorce; we also have kids, so this plays well in our wheelhouse. Besides the emotional and physical stress, there is the biggest piece for many—the financial piece.
I interviewed Ann from her perspective of what she went through during her divorce. As we go forward with this series, we will write on dating as a married couple and how to keep the marriage in a healthy state—even if this is your second or third time at the altar. Ann and I have had our ups and downs but are very committed to our marriage and will do what it takes to be fully vested.
Tommy: Ann, when you first started to go through your divorce, did you feel it was over or did you think there might be a chance that you two just needed maybe some type of separation? Was it financially better to go your ways instead of spending money for counseling?
Ann: In many—not all—divorces, one person has emotionally disengaged and has already left the marriage while the other is still invested. I was the one who wasn’t ready to let go, so for me, counseling was the possibility that we could mend our broken marriage. Even though it didn’t turn out the way I had hoped, I still firmly believe that counseling is the way to go.
Someone once told me you have to “earn” your divorce—meaning you should do everything in your power to save the marriage before giving it up.
I realize that in cases like mine where I was the only one trying to save the marriage, I was also the only one who earned the divorce. Although that was a bitter pill to swallow at first, it is now one of the first on my list of reasons why I’m glad I am no longer married to that person. Someone who would give up so easily on something so important is not a good partner for you.
Tommy: What are your thoughts about the belief that it isn’t worth getting married knowing divorce rates?
Ann: Wow, now that’s someone who isn’t invested in the relationship!
Seriously, that is partly why divorce rates are so high. When you start to question your ability to commit to the one you love because of external factors, chances are you’ll end up divorced.
When I was young, I did gymnastics, specifically the balance beam. One of the tricks to staying up on the beam is to keep your focus up. The idea was that your body will go in the direction that you were looking. You look down, and you’ll eventually fall. This holds true with relationships. If you’re already looking at the possibility of divorce, you’ll most likely end up divorced. Interestingly enough, statistics tell us that folks that live together before getting married have a slightly higher potential for divorce. This is especially true when one of the reasons for living together is to “try out the relationship.” They have already built in a way out, and more likely than not, they will use it.
Tommy: When someone asks if it’s worth staying in a marriage because of the kids…is it? Or is it better to dissolve the marriage?
Ann: It all depends on your situation. What’s the relationship between you and your current spouse? If you’re constantly fighting and even with counseling cannot resolve your differences, then divorce may be your best course of action.
Kids need to live in a peaceful, loving environment and research has found that many kids in that situation are relieved that their parents are splitting so they can have peace in their homes.
If your marriage is just loveless and you’ve become more like “roommates,” I would suggest counseling or a marriage retreat to work on recommitting to each other.
However, if you’re at the point where you’ve decided to just hang in there until the kids are out of the house, know that this is often very difficult on adult children—some say even more so than if it had happened when they were younger. It’s a very difficult decision to get a divorce, even more so when kids are involved. You and your spouse are the only ones who know what’s right for your family.
Tommy: Did you date right away after your divorce or did you take time away from that idea? What changed you after your divorce as far as your personality or finding a new hobby to fill a void?
Ann: I waited about a year after my divorce before I started dating. I highly recommend that people take the time for themselves. You really need to find yourself and be able to look at the past relationship to see what went wrong and what went right. When you’re in a committed relationship, there are parts of you that you let go or take on for the other person. You need to take time to look these things and see if this is what you want or if they are true about you.
You really need to find yourself and be able to look at the past relationship to see what went wrong and what went right.
There were many things in my first marriage that I had come to believe about myself that simply weren’t true. Since my first husband handled all of the money, I believed I wasn’t good at budgeting. I thought I would be poor and destitute within a year. Luckily, my boss at the time reminded me that I was successfully managing a million dollar-plus annual budget for him…so I must know something! I decided that I could do this, but more importantly, in my next relationship I would take a more active role in the family finances.
Tommy: Speaking of dating, what do you think the “rules” should be as far as the first date—who should pay, is it okay to introduce the kids to your date the first time, and does it matter if your new love interest does or does not have kids? Should that last question matter?
Ann: I don’t know about any rules as far as who should pay on the first date—or any rules for that matter. I think “rules” really speak to a person’s values and personality.
I personally don’t believe you should introduce your date to your kids until you know the relationship will last a while.
Your kids have recently seen you and their other parent split, so things are not feeling very safe for them. If you introduce them to your date and it doesn’t work out, your kids will also experience that second loss as well. And finally, does it matter to you if your date has kids or not?
Tommy: If the marriage is rocky and you know your partner has not verbally told you that they feel the marriage is over, how can you start a conversation?
Ann: A good friend of mine loved the quote “Speak even if your voice shakes.” That is my advice to you.
Find a way—and do it sooner rather than later. Do not ignore the issue and do not believe it will go away on its own. Most problems start off small and fixable if taken care of right away. They only become huge issues when you don’t address them.
We hope this has helped with your dating process when a divorce or break up has occurred. Our next article will focus more on the aspect of the second marriage and blending two families—especially the kids. This can seem at times complicated but when the focus is on the kids, things can really work out. Stay tuned!