Most people who has gone through a divorce tell me that it was one of the hardest things they ever experienced in life. If I ask what was the hardest part about it, they usually say something like “the pain of the children”, “the vicious attacks of my ex”, “the desperation and hopelessness of it”, “the shattered dreams and promises”, or “being in court and all the legal stuff”.
These are all hard to bear heavy burdens for the time being, but I think there is one ultimate thing that tops all of them on the long run. As a matter of fact it is so hard to deal with that some people never do. Yes, you can get through a divorce, or even multiple ones throughout the years without ever dealing with the hardest part of it all. Looking at your own part in the failure of your marriage.
As always, it is so much easier to blame the other person for everything that went wrong and led to the destruction of the marriage, but deep down we all know that one person cannot be responsible for the breakdown of a relationship that involves two people. Even in cases of infidelity or addiction.
Telling ourselves (and others) that our ex is fully responsible makes our life easier in a way, because we don’t have to take any responsibility for the failure of the relationship so we are off the hook so to speak when it comes to self-examination and making changes in how we behave, think, or live. Also, we look better in front of others. (If they believe the story we are telling ourselves.)
At the earlier stages of divorce this denial might serve us somewhat, helping us bear the immense pain and disappointment. It is just easier to think we are at no fault. It helps with the survival. For a short time. But if we hang onto the story of "none of this is my fault" too long, we will end up at a dark, angry, self-deceptive place where no healing or growth can occur, and definitely without any hope for a better future relationship.
So when denial, our psychological defense mechanism, has run its course and done its job, we need to thank it and let it go. If it doesn't want to leave us we need to brake out of it, using as much force as necessary. When we feel somewhat adjusted to our new reality and somewhat capable to face the uncomfortable truth about ourselves, we have to find ways to do it. Our future happiness depends on it.
Here are some ways to walk down the hard road of self examination:
Without doing the hard work of looking at our own part in the failure of our marriage, and changing our faulty thoughts and ways, our next relationship will be a repeat of the past even if it feels different at the beginning. The old saying still holds true "We repeat what we don't repair." If we don't want to repeat what just happened to us we better start repairing what we have power over. Ourselves.
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