Divorce:Things I Fought For That Caused Me Grief

I had been married for 16 years and had two children when I finally admitted to myself that my marriage was not working. We had grown apart. We had little in common and our visions of our future together had grown miles apart. We didn’t want the same things in life or from life any more. I know it was very difficult for my ex-husband to accept this. Despite my wanting to talk about these differences and going to couples therapy, he was still completely caught off guard when I announced that I wanted a divorce. For me, the decision had been years in the making so it was a lot easier for me to want to move quickly. I wanted to get on with the building of my new life.

Divorce Is Never Easy

It has been almost ten years since we divorced. For the most part, it was amicable. We didn’t fight aggressively or hate each other, much. I was the one that instigated the separation so there were feelings from my ex that I was breaking up the family. I believe it was much more a feeling of having to create his own future. You see, he had always been the one that chose what our future would be, but I was always the one that made it happen. So between him trying to hold on and me trying to be nice and not hurt him anymore than I had to, the divorce took a lot longer to become final. If I could go back in time, I definitely would tell my younger self, how it could have been resolved faster and for the better.

3 Things I fought for when I divorced that caused me grief, stress and lengthened the divorce proceedings considerably.

1. The House

I wanted my children to have as little disruption in their lives as possible so I fought really hard to keep the house we were all living in. Because I did this, and my ex fought it, we ended up living in the same house together for almost a year after we were officially separated. Though he lived downstairs and I lived upstairs for the most part and we did not argue in front of the kids, it was a very stressful time. It was like living with one foot in the past and one in the future.

As well, I didn’t realize the huge financial impact keeping the house would have on me in the future. The house was easily sustainable for a 2 income family but not a single mom with child support.

2. Joint Custody

Though there was no question that the children would live with me full-time and that my ex would have to pay child support, he fought for the words “joint custody” on our divorce. Since my oldest son had type 1 diabetes and I had always been the one to take care of him, I was very worried that my ex would not be able to take on that responsibility on his own.

I eventually gave in and it turns out that I had nothing to worry about. He never once has taken the children on vacation, let alone over night. I’m not sure what he was fighting for. Maybe he felt that it was something he should do or maybe it was a stab at me and a delay tactic. It doesn’t really matter because once he left our house, he never co-parented again. He does see them regularly but leaves all decisions regarding their upbringing to me.

I am told now by a lawyer friend that this is all too common. Their advice is that it is just words on a paper. He says you have nothing to worry about if they are a good dad and the bad ones start out wanting their chosen times but eventually lapse. (Of course this advice does not apply where there is abuse of any kind involved).


3. Waiting For The System To Work

As mentioned above, my ex and I lived in the same house for almost a year after the separation. We each had our own lawyers and in an effort to keep things cordial at home, we both agreed to let all divorce matters be handled with them. This made the process much longer than it should have been. There was a lot of back and forth going on between the lawyers which was so silly since we would see our spouses every day.

Eventually, I got fed up, took the kids to my mom’s for the night, sat down my ex and asked him, face to face, “What is it you want or need to make this final?” He told me and it truly was a “That’s it?!” moment. Within days, everything was signed, sealed and delivered and within a week, he moved out. I would not have had to live a year in limbo if I had just been more up front.


Though I wish I had done things differently, I do not live with regret. It has all worked out for the best for our children and that is what counts. Everyone is now very adjusted and the divorce did not cloud any of our happy memories for any of us.


If you had the chance to re-do how you handled your divorce, what would you do differently?

3 Things I fought for when I divorced that caused me grief, stress and lengthened the divorce proceedings considerably.

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  1. My ex tossed the children’s toys on the front yard and changed the locks. They were 1 and 4 years old. He hid our funds. With $20 in my wallet I made a better life. IF I could do it all over I would not have wasted money on attorneys. I ended up like you raising the children and he drifted away after a long battle. I rarely talk about my divorce.

  2. Elena hi. I enjoyed your post. If I have learned one thing as a therapist, it is that a divorce will mimic a marriage. Whatever dynamics that existed in the marriage, will play out in the divorce. Sounds like that is what happened – he was trying to control – you were actually doing the work. I advise folks not to expect their soon-to-be ex to “rise to the occasion” but to expect more of the same. Or worse in some cases. (And should have expected that in my own lol).

  3. I don’t believe anyone goes into marriage expecting it to end in divorce, so to me it’s always sad when a divorce occurs, for the shattered hopes and dreams of the people involved. I understand a lot of those feelings and emotions all to well… Hugs!:)

  4. I’ve heard so many divorce and after divorce stories. I’m not sure what the most outrageous story is but one that may be close is how my uncle announced wanting a divorce from my aunt. He took her out to dinner on her birthday – and dropped the news on her there. He didn’t get the house. Or the kids.

  5. The only thing I would do differently would be to sell the house instead of getting a mortgage and buying my ex out. I’d have been much better off financially, but I wanted to let my kids stay in their home to mitigate the disruption of the divorce. Everything else, I’m glad I did the way I did. We came to an agreement without lawyers, which was GREAT. Wallowing in guilt (divorce was my choice, not his), I let my ex have his way in terms of money, and my friends said I was an idiot for doing it. Maybe I was, but I don’t regret it. The antipathy fighting him would have engendered might have been worse. All in all, I regret less about my divorce than I do about a lot of other decisions in my life.

    1. Wow, your story does sound very similar. I too am told that I gave up too much. It was worth it in the end and everyone is well adjusted which I think is what counts in the end.

  6. I didn’t have a chance to get divorced in the end and went straight to widowhood. If I could go back and do the breakup again, I’d be more honest. Now it’s all too late to set the record straight.
    Great post.

  7. divorce is such a messy business – I am so glad that I have been spared the trauma of going through it but I think it’s really good to hear helpful (non vindictive) advice from someone who has survived it and done it graciously – thanks so much for sharing 🙂

    1. I’m sure my ex wouldn’t say graciously but you can’t please everyone. lol I’ve seen some real catastrophes out there and it never does anyone any good. Sometimes you just have to let the bitterness go as it can really eat you alive.

  8. I lived in my guest room for over a year so I feel your pain! I tok wish is known that the system wouldn’t work. I’m 5 years in this process and its a mess!! Awesome to hear that you can move on! #midlifeluv

  9. I’m pretty new to after-divorce, but my story is similar…I chose it after years of thinking. Him – hard to accept. Lucky me, though – my kids were entering their adulthood. It must’ve been difficult with little kids. But, if you’ve never divorced with kids before, how could you know? You do your best. You don’t know what those years would look like if you didn’t handle it the way you did. Maybe better, maybe worse. We, too, had to live in the same house for a year. It was difficult. But there were better things to come on the other side of that…for me…and him. Great post, Elena!

  10. I wish I could say that had I not fought for anything my divorce would have been easier but I think it really does depend on both parties ability to cooperate. My ex went through the process thinking I should end up with nothing. I had no choice but to fight for some things. I will say, though, that the post divorce court battle he put me through when I was getting remarried and he wanted to terminate child support, I truly do wish I had not fought him over. At the time, I thought it was the right thing to do for the sake of my kids and did not want to make it my new husband’s responsibility to provide any support even though I knew he would and ultimately did!

    1. It’s sounds like you have a real gem now. I hope that makes up for everything you went through. Yes, it really does depend on both parties but I also have seen battles go on for TEN years. That’s just ridiculous. Your blog is great! I look forward to future posts.

      1. I saw that you posted this particular blog on the #MidLifeLuv linky party this week and had to come back to say thanks for being so supportive of my blog. I really appreciate it a lot. And, yes, the man I’m married to now may drive me crazy at times but he really does deserve a lot of credit for putting up with all of the craziness that has swirled around us through the years because of my divorce 🙂

        1. Oh I hear you there lovely! It’s not uncommon to have years of overlap. And you are very welcome Beth. I thank you and appreciate you as well. It feels good to support each other and i feel my fellow bloggers’ successes are like my own. I’m not sure if I added you to the Facebook group, but you can find it at http://www.facebook.com/groups/midlifeluv/

  11. Great post – isn’t hindsight always a wonderful thing!

    My parents ended their unhappy 23 year marriage by going through an equally unhappy and nasty divorce. My mother has always said she would have done things differently – she would have sold the house as soon as possible and avoided having any contact or conversations with him – he got away with screwing the whole family over so he could run off with his mistress of ten years. My sister and I were legally adults when they split up, so custody wouldn’t have been an issue for us, but my youngest sister was 14 and went to school with his mistress’s daughter. It was all very complicated. And yes, my mother insisted that she and my sister went on the holiday to Cornwall that had been booked before they split up. My dad? He went to Barbados instead.

    1. There are so many wows in your story, I can’t believe it. Did you guys at least have a good time in Cornwall? I’m sure he did in Barbados.

      1. I’m certain he did – he illegally took a £5000 loan on the family home so he could go. My mum and sister had a good time in Cornwall – I stayed at home. I haven’t spoken to him in 14 years and I’m all the better for it haha!

  12. A great post Elena, thank you. My divorce was so long ago and I was so much younger, it’s hard to re-think what I would have done differently. The most important issue that came out of it was my ex acting out his pain on the lives of my daughters. It’s been a disaster and very harmful to them. We can’t control the maturity of others.

  13. Interesting! My ex was having an affair although the only thing I wish I didn’t insist on was us going on a family holiday after we split up that we had already booked & paid for before the affair was discovered by me! It was a thoroughly miserable 2 weeks! The sun, pool & wine didn’t help as much as I hoped … well, maybe the wine helped a little!

    1. That sounds awful. I know many people that have kept summer plans after a break up. None of them turned out well. Words to the wise out there!

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