03/13/2015 05:51 pm ET Updated May 13, 2015

Why it Took Me 4 Years to get Divorced

I couldn't do it. I struggled with my feelings of sadness in my marriage yet I couldn't leave. Even when I finally did move out after months of contemplation, I still couldn't file for divorce. Four years later I stopped living in the safety of separation and signed the dreaded divorce decree. In between the move and the legality of the end of our marriage, my ex and I became friends.

We started to do the things we hadn't done in our marriage. We talked. We worked together to raise our daughter who is well adjusted and happy. We helped each other shop for car insurance and telephone service. We helped each other move out and move on. We didn't work living in the same house, but it seems we work very well living in our own separate dwellings, with our own space and our own peace.

We encourage each other's new relationships. He has been in a long term relationship with a woman and I just got involved with a nice guy. I've encouraged my ex to open up with our daughter and include her in his love life, as it seems his girlfriend is going to be around a while. And my little girl is curious and has been wondering about the woman in her dad's life, so I told him that he shouldn't be afraid to be honest about his relationship. My boyfriend adores my daughter and I'm lucky to have found someone who accepts all the aspects of my life, including my close friendship with my ex.

Don't get me wrong, it was hard seeing my ex with his new girlfriend. It took a long time for me to come to terms with our end and his new beginning. I tried to find someone too, but I just had a lot of first dates and no longterm relationships. I felt lonely and confused and wondered why I only met Mr. Wrong. Maybe I just needed to be alone for a while and figure out what I really wanted out of life. Time healed a lot of the wounds and I slowly got stronger and happier.

At first I couldn't figure out why I had such a hard time legally moving on from my ex, but when I finally did sign the papers, I realized that I wasn't losing him as my family, but gaining him as my friend. No matter how long it takes to uncouple the important thing is to end it being the best person you can be to your ex. It started with love so there's no reason to end it with hate, especially when children are involved. The child will feel the hatred and it all ends up back on them, so if you love your kid, love your ex for everyone's sake.

It's hard to go from a life of marriage to a life of singlehood but millions of people do it every year and to those facing this transition, take your time. Maybe four years is a bit extreme but don't rush the decision to finalize your life apart. We gave each other time, we even dated each other to make sure that we weren't making the wrong decision, and we left each other better than when we met. We are stronger, we know that our own happiness depends on ourselves, and we love ourselves as much as we love our daughter. That's the greatest gift of moving on from your past, realizing that you and everyone around you will be just fine in the future.