Let me start by reminding you that I was in an almost 17-year monogamous relationship, from when I was 21 until I was 38. To say the least – if you can think of it, I’ve been through it. Over those years, my ex-husband and I experienced every scenario imaginable, including adopting a child and living “the suburban dream.” So what went wrong? Well, to quote one of my friends, “Maybe it was never right.” Who knows, maybe it wasn’t. What was right was our decision to get divorced, and as you can imagine, that decision took much time and consideration. Here’s how we did it:
- In the early days of our separation (before we acknowledged it), we knew our communication was way off-track. We concluded that we needed couples counseling. Being gay in a very small rural community made this extremely difficult, but eventually, we connected with a good psychologist. We diligently went and did the work. Over time, we realized we weren’t into it, so we quit going. There wasn’t much left to counsel.
- Along with the counseling, we needed to spice up our sex life. Now, if you’re gay, that’s not too difficult to do. We have countless combinations of different positions and toys, and … you get the picture. Eventually, that wasn’t enough and we fell back into our old routines, and then stopped altogether.
- We planned a couple of vacations – one was a family trip to Disney World, the other was an island getaway in Bermuda for just the two of us. While both of the trips went okay, there was obvious tension that was impossible to ignore. At this point in our heads, I think we both knew the inevitable was approaching.
- After months of trying to stay together, we had the dreaded conversation – starting with saying we wanted a separation, and culminating in the decision to get a divorce. It was a very unpleasant talk. Everything was on the table.
- We devised our separation plan (and this is where we were fortunate). We leased a small one-bedroom apartment close to our home. Then we created a schedule as to when we would stay there – essentially splitting our time between our home and the apartment. This did two things: allowed us to have our space, and made sure one of us was always at home with our son. We rarely saw each other once this began.
- After creating that plan, we explained to our (then 3-year-old) son this, verbatim: “Your daddies are not going to be living with each other anymore. We are still going to be a family, and you aren’t going to have to move, but there will be some changes and we will work through it all together.” We both knew that while our communication was bad with each other, it was paramount to be good with our son. He didn’t really blink an eye – he didn’t quite understand … yet.
- During the separation period, we always put our son first, which ultimately meant not entering a crazy battle in divorce court (or arguing in front of him). With the help of consulting attorneys, we did the entire divorce through mediation. This meant that we would have scheduled meetings with a mediation attorney present, and create a solid divorce plan. It took several months, but we finally both agreed on the terms. ALWAYS AVOID COURT IF YOU CAN.
- One of us had to move out. It was a no-brainer in our situation – it had to be me. I was not the breadwinner and couldn’t remotely keep up the mortgage of our house. I sat my son down three months before the move, and explained to him that he would now have TWO homes and TWO sets of toys and TWO of about anything I could think of to try and spin it in a positive way. He was excited, yet concerned about the changes.
- Our actual divorce date coincided with my move-out day, so it was just a matter of meeting in court and having the judge finalize it. Later, I moved all of my possessions out of the house and into the new one. Surprisingly, that day went seamlessly.
- Since then, we still put our son’s needs above ours and bend over backwards to make sure the transition has been smooth. We didn’t even utter the “d” word until somewhat recently, and because of the constant good communication, it hasn’t devastated him. I feel we work together to make sure his needs are always met.
And here we are now. I’ve been divorced for almost a year and a half, my child has adjusted quite nicely, and we have gotten through a lot of post-divorce obstacles with grace. I would definitely agree with the saying that divorce is hell, because it is – it’s some kind of next-level hell. But it was necessary for us, and neither of us have any regrets.
I will never advise someone to get a divorce, simply because it is an extremely personal decision. I will advise you however, to listen to my journey, as I feel we did divorce “right.” I am a die-hard romantic, and look forward to hopefully marrying in the future and even starting a new family. This divorce did not ruin anything for me; in fact, if anything it made my desire to be in a loving relationship grow stronger. If you are reading this and feel like you might be headed down this path, I urge you to do whatever you can to make the marriage work. If it doesn’t however, my advice is sage and free.