For a while now I have been writing for the Huffington Post, which is a lot of fun and also fascinating. The Huffington Post is one of the most highly read online publications and therefore offers a huge and diverse audience with whom I can share my thoughts.
One of the things that I have found in the comments on my posts is that there seems to be a feeling by many that the individual who initiates a divorce is somehow both selfishly giving up on their marriage and will also enjoy a far easier time moving forward than the person who was "left."
Not only do I disagree, but I feel obligated to share my thoughts on these positions, both as someone who initiated my divorce and as a Divorce Expert and Coach as well.
No one walks down the aisle at their wedding hoping that they will one day be divorced. In other words, no one "wants" divorce.
As you already know, divorce is one of those decisions that is incredibly difficult to make and more often than not, takes courage, strength and tremendous work to manage.
For me personally, my decision to divorce did not happen overnight as a means of avoiding the hard work of making marriage work. While most of the people in my life -- friends, family and my community -- first became aware of my marital discontent when we shared our decision to divorce publicly, what they did not know was the almost four years of counseling, therapy and hard work that we put into trying to make our marriage work.
It was a decision that took years to make and was for us, or at least for me, a last resort. Despite my divorce and my passion for being a Divorce Expert and Coach, I believe in and advocate for strong, healthy and long term relationships and marriage. My parents are happily married for 47 years and I wanted more than anything in my life to have created and enjoyed the same beautiful and extraordinary long-term marriage.
Unfortunately, many of us made the decision to marry when we were young and uneducated about what we really want and need in an ideal relationship. It is not that I don't believe in the importance of commitment in creating a wonderful marriage, but rather, my ex-husband and I were simply not a good fit. Both my ex-husband and I made the decision to marry for what we thought were the "right" reasons and by using what we thought were the "right" criteria. However, looking back, neither one of us was a good fit for the other; we both made a decision that couldn't work because of who we are at our core.
Making the decision to end our marriage -- a commitment we both took seriously -- was incredibly difficult and painful, for both of us.
There are so many reasons why individuals or couples decide to end their marriages. Perhaps there is abuse (verbal or physical), infidelity, or just plain unhappiness. No matter the reason, it is never as simple as it seems. Underneath all of these reasons is a far more complicated situation than anyone, including the individuals in the marriage, often understands. That is where someone like me, a Divorce Expert, Coach or therapist, can help you understand what is really going on and help you move through the transition with honesty, integrity and clarity.
We all deserve to be part of a relationship that is extraordinary, and getting divorced does not in any way mean that a person is not capable of or doesn't value the commitment to a long term relationship or marriage.
As a matter of fact, it is no easier for the "initiator" to move forward after divorce and create a new and extraordinary life than it is for the spouse that didn't initiate.
Divorce is a significant transition that affects almost every area of an individual's life. Whether a person was the one to first utter the words, "I want a divorce," or not, the transition is equally challenging.
There are always reasons why a marriage ends. And while the emotional stress and anxiety can be excessive, focusing on blame will not allow either person to move forward. Rather, it will make the situation more difficult for both individuals and any children involved. The best strategy for moving forward is to focus on understanding and accepting the situation, and using that as the foundation upon which a new life will be built.
I recognize that it is easier said than done, but I have never found a situation where both individuals did not contribute in one way or another to the demise of the marriage, whether they were the one to initiate divorce or not.
I was the one to initiate, and yet I realize that I also contributed to the marriage not succeeding. I take this accountability seriously and, despite the sadness of having made the decision and feeling like a failure, I have made a commitment to do whatever it takes to learn from that experience and prepare myself for new effortless, extraordinary love.
Here's the real deal. Walking down an aisle, wearing a wedding band and simply living together for decades does not alone make a marriage succeed. Nor does it obligate either spouse to stay in a situation that is unhealthy or unhappy. What it does mean is that there is work, commitment and a discipline involved in creating an extraordinary relationship that can withstand the test of time. And even after divorce, that relationship is out there waiting for you!
Every situation is unique, and my experience personally and professionally has illustrated that each marriage and divorce poses its own complexities. But the notion that either person moving through and forward after divorce has it easier or harder than the other is simply not true -- even if it seems that way from the outside.
What I have learned is that divorce can create a strange mixture of sadness, loss, fear, anxiety, liberation, freedom, courage and self-sufficiency -- among a host of other emotions. It is a profound and complex journey that requires less judgment and more support for all of the individuals experiencing it.
This has been my longwinded way of saying that each of you has a situation that is unique, and that you are moving though it with grace. And no matter what your situation is, I know that it has had moments of challenge, moments of joy, and moments of fear -- and that none of us "chose" for divorce to be a part of our lives.