One of the great temptations of divorce is to focus on the hurt of the past. After all, it probably plays a large reason in why you are separating!
However, letting the wounds of your marriage dictate the process of divorce is about as helpful as planning a trip in a broken car. As much as you may want to point your finger at your partner’s mistakes, doing so will only lead to conversations of escalating frustration that put progress in reverse.
Yes, the events of the past matter. His overspending that put the family in financial ruin caused deep cuts of betrayal and missed opportunities. Her verbal abuse of the children resulted in mental scars that don’t disappear. But save such issues for healing in a therapist’s office or in the caring hearts of trusted family and friends, not in your divorce negotiations.
A healthy divorce is about understanding that no matter what the reasons behind the divorce, both partners played a role in the marital dissolution, and both partners are suffering. Even if you are not the one who had the affair or let an untreated mental illness wreck havoc on the relationship, none of us can claim to be perfect, and we all enter marriage with our own unhealthy habits and underdeveloped interpersonal skills. It just is.
Your anger or sadness over such things is valid. It needs to be heard and acknowledged, and tended to with care and understanding. So do that. But in a setting that can appreciate the tenderness of a broken heart. A lawyer’s office, conference table for negotiations, or court room is not such place.
As you move forward with your life, it’s important to put intention around learning from the past, not reacting to it. The reality is that your partner will never understand your side of the story, and you will never comprehend his or hers.
Let your partner be who he or she is, and focus on taking care of yourself and acting in a manner of dignity and respect. This may seem “unfair,” but do you want your life to be about fairness or peace? I suspect the latter. As it is often said, forgiveness is not something we do for others, but primarily for ourselves. The same can be said for acting with compassion, clarity and respect for all parties.
With every death or ending, a new beginning is offered. Refuse to play the victim or villian, and embrace a future of hope and personal transformation. It’s not easy, but why would you want anything less?