Remember the English punk rock band, The Clash?
The Clash is the all-time favorite band of the man I married. John grew up in Brooklyn. I was a young Boston girl and found this street-smart, handsome guy to be attractive and true. For those reasons, and the fact that I believed he'd always protect me and be a good father, I chose him as my mate. I always admired John's extensive knowledge and love for music. I too became a Clash fan.
Remember the lyrics to their hit released in 1982, "Should I Stay or Should I Go"?
Should I stay or should I go?
If you say that you are mine,
I'll be here 'til the end of time,
So you got to let me know,
Should I stay or should I go?
We've all been faced with the dilemma of cutting ties with relationships, jobs, careers, relocating, etc. It's never easy. There are inherent conflicts, second-guessing, unfounded worries over what others may think, and more.
When my children were in lower school, I'd often marvel at couples I'd come to know over the years. Perplexed by how they'd separate and divorce with small children in tow, I'd hear the moms reveal how they realized their spouses weren't their soul mates. They felt lonely. They arrived at a place where they acknowledged their spouse to be a better friend than a husband. Or their spouses were just unfit to remain wedded to for the typical assortment of reasons. Who knows what really went on?
I'd stand in the midst with my two very young kids and my own marriage struggles and think: "Wow! On one hand, it's remarkable that they stepped up and did it -- that takes guts!" On the other hand I'd think, "How could they be so selfish and rip apart their kid's lives? Did they even try to salvage their marriage?"
I've come a long way since then. Now my kids are college bound, and I'm ten years older. And through the trials of a long-term union, my nineteen-year marriage has dissolved. I've come to appreciate the age-old question: "How do you know when it's time to go?" The clearest reply: "When you just can't stand the pain of staying one more day. That's when you know it's time."
Consider years invested in a marriage, a kid or two or three, family finances, challenging economies, etc. From the onset, lasting relationships take tremendous effort, and more communication than some perhaps are interested in or capable of. This we know. And that's of course, where the breakdown often begins.
A marriage split casts implications that are more complicated than meets the eye. Life packs the proverbial punch, and we perhaps find ourselves headed into that dark tunnel. It's overwhelming and terrifying. However, if we look down at our feet -- we are still standing. And we do have choices. Fear not.
In spite of my many failings, I believe that the bonds of marriage are a bountiful opportunity to make a life with someone, to join forces and realize happiness, to create and raise children -- lots of gifts, laced with gratitude and joy. I applaud the fifty-year wedding anniversaries of those able to create such an enduring marriages. The union of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, for example -- married fifty years until his death in 2008. That's really something -- in Hollywood, no less!
A marriage is a tremendous investment of oneself, and -- barring extenuating circumstances -- a great accomplishment whether the outcome is lasting or not. There's something perfect in every life experience, if we to choose to see it. I view marriage as an offering of tremendous personal growth. The agony of the demise stands as a testament to the depth of the investment made. I will love the man I married for the rest of my life. But, we are better apart.
We marry with the best of intentions, and then things shift.
Here are a few things you need to do to get through your split:
Mind your own business. Just as your mother always told you; it's wise advice, and still stands. Whatever the circumstances leading up to you now making your way as a single woman -- accept them as a reality. The more energy you invest in yourself, the stronger you will become. The more energy you spend thinking about how someone else is the greatest disappointment in your life, the longer you'll remain stuck, isolated and miserable. Remember: you have zero control over the actions of others. You can only control yourself and how you proceed in your life. Remain steadfast in commitment to your kids. Stay put in your own business. And face forward.
Become financially educated and empowered. One of the biggest fears and costly limitations of a newly single woman is her lack of knowledge and savvy in the area of personal finance. Aside from balancing a checkbook, there is a vast investments world out there that you should be familiar with to ensure you're prepared to ask critical questions, choose an appropriate advisor and make prudent and informed investment decisions. Get financially empowered.
Get physically fit and stay that way. There is no substitute for a strong body and a regular endorphin burst. Aside from feeling good, the benefits of physical fitness to manage stress, build resilience and optimism are unmatched. So get going. Explore the options. Find passion and solace in fitness.
Answer these questions with truth and optimism: Who are you? What is your plan? Women fly warplanes and space shuttles, make public policy, run profitable corporations, and are successful entrepreneurs. We do our best to raise our kids to become compassionate, magnanimous adults. We care for our aging parents. We are duly capable of successful relationships. We are loyal to those we love and trust. Beyond all of that, we can certainly stand up for and take care of ourselves. This is your time to blossom.
I too have endured my share. I'm a mother. A fitness-lover. And I coach bravehearted women through big life changes. I'm a driving force to support personal reinvention and the reclaiming of independence for those who have come out of that dark tunnel and want to recreate a new passionate life.
I'm committed to the on-going evolution of personal reinvention. And it is amazing.
Get deliberate. Get inspired. Get going.
And remember, there are beautiful experiences and amazing people just around the bend. Stay open to that, because staying open is our greatest human resource.
Follow Nancy Sherr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@NancySherr