When you’re getting a divorce, it can be so easy to point fingers and blame your spouse for what is happening. But let’s face it, it does take two people to make or break a marriage. You both have to take responsibility and most importantly, understand that the future is bright!
So, why do we point fingers and place blame during a divorce? And how can you overcome this tendency and move forward without tearing down your partner and them tearing you down?
Whether you realise it or not, your divorce is causing you to grieve. Researchers agree that there are five stages in the grieving process: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Right now you may be engulfed in the waves of emotions that come along with grief. And yes, even if this divorce is something you WANT, you can still grieve.
Chances are, you and your spouse haven’t been happy for a while and it has finally culminated into issues that can no longer be ignored. In fact, your grieving process probably started a long time ago as you realised that your marriage was declining and headed toward separation and divorce. If you have been laying on the couch feeling stuck and depressed, you deserve better…and so do your friends, family and kids.
It’s important to allow yourself to feel these emotions. Don’t fight it, because even negative emotions are natural. The important thing to remember is not to allow your grief to change who you are and how you treat others. It may be that your grief is causing you to lash out and place blame because it feels like that’s the easy thing to do.
Instead, try to relinquish control and allow yourself to be engulfed by your grief. Acknowledge how you feel. Acknowledge where you are in your life. Acknowledge that it just plain sucks, no matter how you look at your situation. And then, rise above your grief and take your first step forward…and before you know it you will have started the process of moving in the right direction.
You Feel Like You’ve Failed
No one likes to fail. Even if you’re placing blame on your spouse, deep down inside you know that it takes two people to make things work – or fail. You know that you have just as much of a part in your marriage failing as your spouse does. We know. It hurts to hear those words. You may even be shaking your head and thinking, “Nope, not me. Not in my marriage!”
But if you really think about it, we’re sure you can think of ways you could have been a better husband or wife. Life is hard. Marriage is hard. It takes work, and a lot of us didn’t realise we were signing up for so much work to make our marriage succeed. At first, it can seem so easy. You’re in love, you have fun, you get along most of the time, and you can laugh off arguments and makeup.
But then you have the same argument 50 more times. Work, kids, sex, bills, extended family and so much more add stress to your marriage. Your daily life becomes mundane and more like a routine. Maybe one of you gains weight. Maybe one of you stops doing as much around the house. Maybe it’s worse than any of that and one of you is unfaithful.
Anger can easily become deeply rooted in your marriage over time. Then one day you think the D-word. Divorce. Then one of you says it aloud. Slowly, slowly things continue to get worse until it feels like there is no other way out. And maybe you’ve given it your all. Maybe you’ve tried counselling. You’ve tried bargaining with one another to each do better.
Society tells us that failure is giving up. In fact, we love to be so very positive and encouraging that we say “The only time you ever fail is if you quit.” And isn’t that what divorce is? Quitting marriage? It’s no wonder that divorce is such a tumultuous subject. No one wants to quit and ultimately fail!
It’s time that we change that perception. Instead of treating divorce as a failure, maybe divorce is a success. You were brave enough to stand up and say “No. This isn’t for me. I made a mistake and it’s time to move forward.” There is so much power in changing the way we view divorce and failure, and we challenge you to overcome the idea that you’ve somehow failed.
It’s Tough to be Accountable
While we stand firm in our belief that divorce doesn’t mean you failed, we also believe that credit should be given where credit is due. And the same goes for blame. We love to point fingers and play the blame game because it takes the focus off of ourselves. It’s like saying “It’s ALL their fault. NOT mine,” without actually using those words.
We love to distract ourselves and others from thinking that maybe we are at fault, too. Just think about it. In any other instance of your life if you make a mistake, even a super obvious one, it’s so hard to be accountable! Our instinct is to make excuses and try to detract from the fact that we messed up.
How awesome would it be if we just raised a hand, owned our mistakes and said, “Yep. I did that. I was wrong.” Marriage is no different. Part of the healing process is acceptance. Not only acceptance that your divorce is in fact happening, but acceptance that you do also have fault in the marriage ending.
Only once you acknowledge this can you begin to move forward. And you don’t have to shout it from the rooftops or hang a sign around your neck. Just accept it in your heart and stop pointing the finger at your spouse. If someone asks what happened, they don’t need details. You’re not required to spill the details of how each of you messed up. Sometimes things just don’t work out the way you expected.
It’s Easier to Focus on the Past
We also place blame because that allows us to focus on the past. We can look back and pick apart everything that went wrong. When really, the truth is that the future scares us. When you got married, you had a vision for the future. Now that future is uncertain. Will it be good? Will it be bad? The stress is probably already rising in your chest just thinking about it.
So instead we look back. We try to figure out what went wrong and we try to consider where it all began. How could we have done things differently? Was there a pivotal moment that it all began going downhill? But you cannot change the past! No amount of thinking and calculating will change where you are now. And if you and your spouse have agreed that your marriage is irreparable, then it is time to move forward.
Every time you place blame – even just thinking about it in your head – you drag yourself back into the past and away from the future. And the thing is, the future is imminent. It is coming whether you like it or not. You have to train your mind (and your mouth!) to let the blame go. At first, it may be a real struggle. But over time it will become a positive habit that helps you to move forward. It makes more room in your head to plan for an amazing future.
Understand that it’s Normal
Another struggle with blame is knowing that placing blame is wrong. Every time you open your mouth and say something bad about your spouse, you feel a twinge of guilt. Those feelings just pile on top of all the negative thoughts already in your mind and make it worse.
But blame is so very normal! It’s what you do with those instincts to place blame that matters. It all comes back to accountability and the desire to feel like we haven’t failed. It’s OK to feel the need to place blame, and it’s ok to have weak moments in which you give in and push it all back onto your spouse. It happens, and you’re human.
The important thing is to strive to rise above this tendency. Be purposeful in thinking positive thoughts and feeding your mind with dreams of the future. Think those thoughts full of blame, and then remind yourself that it goes both ways. Vent to a friend and then thank them for allowing you to get your feelings out. Follow up by acknowledging that you also have fault in your marriage ending and that everything will work out exactly how it’s supposed to.
It’s so easy to look at divorce as an ending. It might even feel like your life is over and you don’t have a future. But that’s just not true! It’s time to change your perspective and realise that there is a lot out there that is much bigger than the two of you. You’re just a blip in this great adventure we call life.
That’s not to make you feel like your situation is insignificant. We know that for the two of you, this is the most important thing you may ever have to face. But life is so full of possibilities. We want to help you realise that your life is not ending with this divorce. This isn’t a funeral. You are closing one chapter and beginning another one. Your new chapter is full of blank pages that you can fill up however you wish.
Instead of feeling like life is coming to an end because it didn’t go as expected, start to think of ways you can make your future bright. What goals do you want to accomplish? What will make you smile again and give you joy? Chase those things in your life and get out of your rut – slowly at first, but then with more confidence. Start each day with positive thoughts and a mentality that looks toward the future instead of dwelling in the past and what could have been.
About the author:
Tanya Somerton is the ‘Divorce Angel’, and helps facilitate a seamless and amicable divorce and separation with the aid of her ‘Army of Angels.’
Providing step by step processes which limits cost and conflict.
Tanya is also the Director of TLC Investment Group, a finance and mortgage company.
The author of the Book, ‘The Jelly Bean Jar – Empowering independence through Divorce’. Tanya helps with pre-divorce planning, cost-saving strategies and life after divorce. Purchase your copy here