Divorce is painful! Kehinde didn’t know that first hand, but contemplated it. She didn’t want to leave her matrimonial home, but she was left with little or no choice, when her husband continued with his philandering ways, and there was no way she could continue to pretend that she was still 100% involved in the marriage.
Every day was becoming a struggle. A struggle to show love, a struggle to provide the basics for her family, while her husband spent family resources on women, and drinking binges. Oh, everyone had told her that was how men were, that they couldn’t be trusted, that one mama so and so, suffered more in the hands of her husband, and see where she is today, in the laps of luxury in God’s Own land, where her oldest daughter lives with her own family.
You know, he is not the worst kind of man out there; at least, he is still paying school fees, when he is able. Be grateful that you have a man to call your own. At least you have kids. Let your kids be your ‘husband’ o! It’s a spiritual attack, you must fight with prayers. Have you watched the movie called The War room? You should watch it; it will open your eyes.” Everyone came with their own piece of solace, something to encourage her to continue to forge ahead in her marriage that was eroding as the day went by.
However, it all came to a head one night. She was wide awake in her bedroom, after all the kids had gone to their bedrooms. She was waiting for her husband to come home, this was the third day running that he hadn’t showed up, and when she called him earlier in the day, he had said he was going to come home that night.
Excitedly, she had told the kids that their dad was coming home that day. When he hadn’t arrived, an hour after the kids’ bed time, she had forced the kids to go to bed, promising they would see their dad in the morning, but that was not looking likely, and worse, he was not even picking his calls.
With these thoughts in her head, tears welled up in her eyes and came down her lids, wetting everything in their path; soon, she was bawling and trashing her bed. After she calmed down, she started to pack her bags to leave the house and then thought about it, he should be the one to leave the house, after all, this was her father’s house, which he had given to them as a wedding present.
That night, she forgot all the rhetoric of people and all they would say. She decided she had had enough of living in denial. This marriage wasn’t working. It was time to get things moving, as in move on with her life. She was already living like a single parent, she might as well be truly single, and that was where the journey started for her.
Before she started to process her divorce papers, she came up with a check list, containing four questions, which she answered in all honesty to herself. This was no longer about what people would say or wouldn’t say, it was about her and her future.
While these questions may not be the deciding factors for you, it is quite important to carefully consider all the consequences of making this significant change. Even if these are not of utmost importance now, you will need a plan to replace the things you are giving up along with your partner.
1. What do I stand to lose?
Divorce means big change. It’s a big deal; income, health insurance, homes. The truth is having a spouse comes with a truckload of things, both good and bad.
The salient questions becomes, can I make it on my own? Am I willing to sacrifice the life I have known for years, or even months? How will my social life be? Would my friends still remain my friends, or would I have to start over from scratch?
This was a no brainer question for Kehinde, as she was already doing without the benefits of having a spouse! Apart from having his name, and everyone knowing she was married, there was little else that she was benefitting from the man. Okay, he pays his children school fees, but that’s it!
2. Will I be happier?
If you are anything like Kehinde, you are probably really miserable right now, but keep in mind that divorce is very stressful, so don’t expect to start to feel happier or any nice about yourself, immediately you leave your spouse. In fact, it might get way darker, before the light at the end of the tunnel shows.
Many divorced women are surprised that their unhappiness did not vanish after they broke up with their partner. So take an honest look at yourself.
Kehinde’s answer was simply no. She was going to be struggling to do a two-man’s job on a shoestring budget, and just the thought alone was depressing her.
Ask yourself these questions: What thoughts and feelings come, when you imagine getting divorced? What are the chances of emotional difficulties or mood swings in you? Is the problem at least partially with me, and will I simply take my unhappiness with me?
3. How would our divorce affect our kid(s)?
This is a really crucial one, if you do have kids. Common sense says that a conflict-ridden marriage is worse than an amicable divorce but the latter seems to be the exception, especially when custody arrangements keep you locked in constant struggles with your ex.
For Kehinde, their conflict was often about the fact that her husband was not showing enough responsibility towards their family, and simply lacked respect for her as a person, and dids exactly as he liked. And that happened mostly behind the closed doors of their bedroom, when he was around, but these days, it has started to happen in front of the children, because she couldn’t rein in her anger on time. But, somehow, she knew the kids were going to take it hard, if they knew their parents were going their separate ways.
4. Have I done the best with this marriage?
Now, for me, this is the question that demands the most honest answer, or else you live in self-denial and take actions based on fleeting emotions. Usually, the desire to break up stems from refusal to accept the current state of things. Well, there is nothing wrong with that! Unhappiness can be a valuable sign that something is wrong and must change. But what if you could learn how to express what’s unacceptable for you in an effective manner and actually be heard by your partner, rather than leave?
Remember, in many cases, there will still be time to get divorced at a later date, but there may not always be time to save whatever is left of your marriage. It is important that you try all that is possible to save your marriage, before you say it’s over. Make sure you’ve tried what’s possible with your marriage before you call it quits. The issue becomes not whether you are committed for life but whether you can commit to working hard for a while to try and see what can be saved.
No one takes divorce lightly and not every marriage can or should be saved. Because, the truth is everyone’s circumstances are different and only you know your particular situation. The most important factor is to not make decisions in isolation but to get yourself the support you need and make sure, the decisions you make are as true to you as possible.
Act not in haste!
Kristine is a member of the The Lovelint team. She is a down to earth person, who says it as it is. Having given relationship advice for years in a national daily, she has found out that fear is one of the main reasons holding people back from enjoying a healthy, happy relationship. She is married with kids and is willing to listen to you and help as much as you let her to.