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Divorce realities no one ever tells you about

The decision to server a marriage commitment is not only extremely personal, but one many people base on the feeling that “I can do much better by myself”.

For many, it’s based on the belief that life will be better on the other side. As one person told us, “I thought I had pretty much figured out what my life would be like after the papers were signed, and that life would pretty just go on much the same way it had been going.”

While many believe this because they are surrounded by many divorcees who seem to be doing just fine, they never sit down with them and get the true story.

Well, we sit with many of them. In fact at one particular occasion, we’ve had to be witnesses in a court case that involved one of the couples we were counselling. What a terrible experience to witness two people who once surely dearly loved one another but now could hardly stand each other’s sight.

While people who go through it eventually recover, divorce is a very emotionally painful process. It leaves a life-long scar, and in many instances, a stigma that’s plastered on you for life.

There are some practical things we wish you should know before divorcing. Not so much to persuade you through fear. Divorce on its own is a scary thought. But to be forewarned is to be forearmed. But it doesn’t matter how amicable your divorce is or if you were the one who initiated it, divorce flat-out sucks.

And so, here are some…

  • Adjusting your life as a single person will be quite daunting, especially considering moving houses or who gets to keep the house, change in lifestyle, change in routine and change in social life. While the fear of change or the unknown shouldn’t stop you from leaving an unhealthy or abusive relationship, ending things before you’ve considered the first few steps pre-breakup can make a sad situation even more stressful and overwhelming.
  • You will never be a “normal” family again, especially if there are children involved, even if you re-marry and do a great job of blending your new family. There will always be “that awkward moment” that comes with adjustment challenges, especially when one of you has decided to commit their life to someone else.
  • In fact, if you decide to remarry after divorce, the risk of divorcing again is almost doubled. You have to live with that statistical fact.
  • You will have so much less say in parenting your children. And that will be frustrating.
  • You may have to deal with the challenges of custodies and co-parenting. Co-parenting now officially forms part of our South African law in terms of the Children’s Act.
  • You will face the temptation of using the children against your ex-spouse, and deliberately make it hard for your ex-spouse to have access to them. While the other parent will suffer, the children will suffer the most once the other parent cuts the emotional ties.
  • As we always say, the biggest casualties in divorce is a child. And unfortunately, their views are not canvassed when parents decide to part ways. Regardless however, divorce leaves a permanent mark on the life of a child that will forever affect how they view life.
  • Your children will find out the truth at some point. And if they have questions you cannot answer, it might affect your relationship with them. You will always face the nagging temptation to bad-mouth your ex-spouse to your
  • children. It will come back to bite you later. The other related and unfair temptation is to burden your children with your marriage problems in the quest to make yourself feel better.
  • You should still share a life with your ex-spouse after the papers are signed. In fact, it’s just the beginning of a lifetime of shared experiences which will include graduations, birthdays, sports days, weddings, and even grandchildren.
  • Even if you have a lot of it, but money will always be an issue between you and your ex-spouse.
  • In general, you will have frequent differences with your ex. After all, there’s a reason you two aren’t together anymore.
  • Friends and family members will forever take sides, even if adultery and abuse were involved.
  • People, even those you meet years after your marriage has ended, will look at you differently due to the negative stigma society has on divorce.
  • For a long time, you will feel like a failure, and all other self-defeating feelings that affect your self-confidence.
  • At some point, you will want to have sex, and there will be plenty of options. Breaking the post-divorce virginity is a very emotional process, especially if you were not a cheater while married. And having one-night stands can be quite dangerous especially given that you’ve been used to having sex with one person you knew you were committed to for life.
  • Re-entering the dating market with the divorce stigma can be quite challenging.

The question to ask yourself is, “have I really given this relationship my best shot?”
If you’re hesitant to say goodbye, try throwing yourself back into the union, full throttle. If you still care, don’t let love fizzle without another round of a fight. Seek professional, spiritual and social intervention. Throw everything in, for as long as there is willingness on both sides.

Because unless and until you’re able to look each other in the eye feeling peace, no hatred or resentment, we don’t believe you’re ready to throw in the towel.

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