Divorce fucking sucks. There’s no other way around it.
Many of you reading this are either in the process of getting divorced or are already there. I’m in the latter camp. My divorce was finalized in May 2014 and it has been far from all rainbows and puppy dogs since then.
Going into the separation, I thought “how bad can it be?” I mean, we just need to sign some papers, tell our daughters about it and move on with our lives, right?
Oh how naive I was to think it would be as simple as all that. Maybe it was that I just didn’t want to think about the negative side of it all or maybe I was just so caught up in the emotion of it all. Either way, I was way off base.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think my life would miraculously be 100% better the day the courts made it official but little did I know just how much fallout there would be afterwards.
Of course we all have different experiences; some good, some bad, and some fucking miserable. And to be fair, my divorce hasn’t been terrible. There are a lot of things I would do differently and even more things I don’t like about what’s happened in the aftermath, but it’s the past and there’s nothing to be done at this point except learn from it.
And learn I have.
As a matter of fact, below are the 6 biggest things I’ve learned since my divorce:
1) You’ll regret giving her so much in the beginning.
When we first split, the last thing I wanted was to draw it out, involve the children, or spend tens of thousands of dollars on attorney fees. I just wanted to start over and be done with it.
I was highly emotional and struggling with the fact of losing my girls and just wanted to make the whole thing as quick and painless as possible.
So I took the path of least resistance and that involved me offering to pay her far more than she probably should have gotten. Sure, we could have battled it out in the courtroom, but at what cost? The way I looked at it, I’d rather have my hard earned dollars going to her (and the kids), than to a greedy attorney.
So I locked myself into a non-modifiable alimony payment (attorney mistake #1) and offered up a very generous child support payment (which has since been modified).
And while it seemed noble in my own mind, my friends and family thought I was nuts. Even so, I didn’t care. I was happy to overpay her if it meant providing more stability for my daughters.
But the nostalgic feeling wore off shortly thereafter and I was left with a feeling of bitterness (and poverty) and there was nothing I could do about it.
Now, almost three years later, I look back and realize that I should have let my emotions subside and sought council before offering to pay through the nose.
For those of you in the midst of this battle right now, please do your future self a favor and make decisions based on logic rather than emotions.
2) Co-parenting will be harder than you thought.
When you’re married, it’s pretty common to be on the same page when it comes to parenting styles. Either that, or you just give up and let your wife make the decisions and you follow along with it..
After the divorce however, things take a radical change for the worse and seemingly bizarre. Some of her decisions will leave you wondering what fucking planet she’s on and how she could make such a terrible decision.
When it comes to our kids, there is nothing more sacred and we will do everything humanly possible to protect them. And when poor decisions are made (by either of you), you have to decide how to handle it and hope for the best.
The problem is that there is not a damn thing you (or she) can do about the decisions you make. Unless it’s putting the children in danger or doing something morally wrong, we just have to grin and bear it.
For example, late last year, my ex decided she was going to pull my daughters out of public school and enroll them in a private Catholic school (where she had just taken a job).
This decision took the girls out of a great public school that they loves, which was five minutes from their house, and into a much smaller school forty minutes away. It was also in the middle of the school year and would cost me hundreds of additional dollars each month.
Needless to say, I didn’t take this well and it almost came to a courtroom battle. It got very ugly and I did my best to shield the girls from it, but it was awful.
In the end, I had to decide to either fight it out in court (spending thousands of dollars) or allow it to happen and hope that it was a decent decision.
This is just one example of how different we want to raise the girls and how difficult it is when we disagree.
My advice is to have a sit down with your ex (if she is a reasonable and rational person) and make the big decisions about your kids future and put it down on paper. It will save you a lot of frustration (and money) in the long run.
3) Communication will suck.
If you thought communicating with your ex was difficult while you were married, you ain’t seen nothing. If men are from Mars and women are from Venus while in a loving relationship, after you’ve split, it’s more like men are from Mercury and women are from Pluto.
Gone are the days of civilly asking your (ex) wife to discuss things during dinner and instead are replaced with fragmented text messages, cryptic voicemails, and unreturned emails.
Neither of you will have much interest in entertaining a lengthy (or productive) conversation, but if it’s at all possible, I’d suggest doing your best to try and make that happen.
When married, we can talk things through and if we don’t agree, can voice our opinions and it will be respected. Not so much post divorce.
Now that you don’t have to agree on things, you’ll find that you are disagreeing a lot more! About everything. This makes things a bit more challenging when trying to make decisions for your kids.
She wants one thing, you want another. What to do? In the end, it’s usually just doing whatever the fuck you want and making the other person deal with it.
Healthy? No. But sadly is exactly what happens in many cases.
4) Your children will get caught in the middle of it.
This is the one thing I told myself I would never do; involve my daughters in our relationship drama. It hurts me deeply to know they hear things about our separation that they shouldn’t.
I do my absolute best to keep my girls out of anything to do with our divorce and have never spoken a bad word to them about their mother. On the contrary, I talk very highly of her and think that’s the way it should be.
Just because she and I didn’t get along doesn’t mean that the kids feel the same way. They had nothing to do with this and I feel very strongly they need to be as far removed from it as possible.
Unfortunately, if you have an ex who thinks it’s OK to talk to your young children about the issues between the two of you, you are stuck. You can’t make her not talk shit about you or your new relationships, only hope that she makes the right decision and doesn’t.
I’ve spent more nights than I care to remember crying about the emotional fallout my girls have from our divorce and it breaks my heart when they ask me questions about it.
All you or I can do is be honest with them, love them, and protect them. And that’s what I focus on 100% of the time.
5) It’s much more of a financial struggle than you thought it would be.
Trying to raise a family while married is tough enough, especially if you live in a crazy expensive region like me (Washington D.C. metro area).
When I was married, we had decided that she should stay home with the girls and I would work. Being a single income family in a very expensive area is rough and we struggled for years and could never seem to get ahead.
After we split, it got worse. Not only did I have a rent payment but now had a very high child support and alimony payment to go along with it. I had to supplement my income with before/after work gigs just to make enough to live.
But after all of that, it was still worth the struggle. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather struggle financially and be happy than have loads of cash and be stuck in a miserable marriage. We can always find ways to make more money but we can’t make more happiness if we’re in a toxic relationship.
6) You find out who your friends are.
Remember all those good times with your neighbors? How about all those dinner dates with that couple down the street with the two kids the same ages as yours?
When we get married and have kids, we tend to start finding friends that are also married with kids. And while some of us keep our old friends, you know the guy who is still single at 43 and hits the bars every night, our new “married” friends become a much bigger part of our social lives.
After we split, it’s like an unspoken rule that all of your “married” friends have to choose a side. It’s either you or her and in my case, they chose her.
I’m sure it has something to do with the wife siding with the ex and her husband having to go along with it and I understand that. It’s a tough thing to maintain friendships with bitter rivals and choosing a side is only logical.
That doesn’t make it any easier though and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me. But such is life.
What Have You Learned?
How about you? What things have you had to learn the hard way since your divorce?
P.S. I realize this post comes across as very bitter and I am bitter to an extent. I’m not unhappy about my decision to divorce and start over, but rather I’m unhappy with the lack of control I seem to have over my daughters lives and all the stress it entails.
Wow nail on the head.my wife left me and my girls 9 months ago for my friend or should i say ex brother of 22 years. They had been having an affair for 4 years off and on.i was with my wife for 15 years 10 married and have to daughters 13 and 3. Since then she moved in with him,3 months later he put hands on her, she moved out and got her own place.
Then she sucked me back in with empty promises and dreams of change but she never did.during the 4 months we were apart i began to exercise more and begin putting back the pieces of myself and heart. Reading and getting my confidence back, been on a few dates and had a great relationship with a good woman. Once she found out, she cane out of the woodwork with i love yous and lets put our family back together(i know im an idiot).so i stayed at her apt for about a month and a half every night and began to realize i was sinking back into my old no confident self.
Unsure of myself and have triggers of when i was married how i did not like my life. So now I’ve since moved out again while i found out she got back with him (though she wont admit it) and starting the healing process all over again. She wants everything as far as the kids go on her terms and if she doesnt get her way she goes batshit crazy. As much as i tried to keep it civil i can already tell its gonna get nasty because she wants things done her way as it was in the marriage.
But no fucking more! I realized im better than that, and she can not run me anymore. What a weight that has been lifted! Now my main focus is the children and whats best for them leaving the emotions out of it as much as i can. Ultimately i learned that keeping a positive outlook and wishing peace and prosperity to all (even her when she flys off the rail) and just get it over with. Our chapter is done because i can no longer look at her the same since the affair and even though it took 9 months i know that she is not the one for me.
She brought me down and i let her but i am slowly starting to enjoy my freedom and time. Everything said in this article is spot on and fellas,he is absolutely right. Keep your heads up and shoulders back, there is light at the end. You just have to work at it daily. It’s a slow process but keep yourself at peace when you speak to her and hopefully she will have mutual respect. If not like my wife don’t stoop to her level, seek legal advice and make good decisions for your future self. It may take time or even years to get over something like a divorce or an affair but just remember there are thousands of people who have it worse.
Thanks for sharing your story. That is a really fucked situation with the cheating and him being a close friend. It’s really easy to get sucked into the comfort zone and wanting to believe that things will change if you get back together, but you are both the same people and there didn’t seem to be much trust there.
It sounds like you’re much better on your own and I hope you stay strong and continue working on yourself. Your kids deserve it and you deserve it..
Holy crap… I feel for ya man.
It is not just Dad’s that get the short end of the stick. My ex-husband got everything.
Agreed. My ex moved across the country and refuses to talk at all. I lost everything.
I would say you sound a lot like my ex-husband and there’s a reason friends chose her over you.
Your ignorance is apparent and you don’t know me at all, so I take your comment lightly to say the least.
Pamela (and Trish),
Women care far more about “optics” than men do. This guy lost some of his friends and neighbors because his ex probably overshared (another thing men typically don’t do). Women just talk and talk and they don’t think about the narrative they’re controlling when they do. Well, the manipulative ones do.
Hi Eric… I Appreciate and understand the use of your word “optics” however i take very good care of my optics wether they are Bushnell, leupold, vortex or tangent theata.
You should go post on a women’s forum. The man is speaking from his heart. You two are bitter and causing more damage in this man.
I’m about to go through a divorce and I really want to see it from my husband’s side, this has been really wonderful to read, thank you!
I’m sorry things didn’t work out in your marriages and I hope that everything gets better as life moves forward! I hope neither of us get bitter or stay bitter long, I believe when you say you’re happier on the other side, I hope we are too!! I guess its normal for it to hurt so much first.
Believe me, men don’t always get railroaded by the vengeful ex wife.In family court mothers are held more accountable while every possible concession is made for dad, even if he’s been abusive.My ex got a much better deal than he should have financially and with parenting.He’s the one who’s got me jumping through hoops.
I’m sure it happens and no doubt that courts aren’t always “pro mother”.
The story here sounds a lot like what I went through and am still going through. However everyone’s story is unique. Thanks for sharing it. There is a light at the end of the dark tunnel. I’m blessed that in a few short months I will have the opportunity to dig myself out of financial ruin thank God. What I have learned is to not lower yourself to the other persons standards. Stay true to yourself. But by all means protect yourself as much as you can and be good to your kids.
Well said, Mike.
I am trying not to hate my soon to be ex wife. I built a business over 26 years and we mutually decided she would be a stay home mom 18 years ago. We have 4 amazing competent successful kids (ages 21, 18, 16, 9) and I attended every single soccer, hockey, baseball, softball, basketball, gymnastics, dance, play, etc event for every kid – I was also very involved and loving and supportive with our kids every day while building the “empire”.
My wife had a midlife epiphany 3 years ago when she learned she has adult ADHD, and this empowered her to give up on housework and start spending days shopping instead, she was bored. She soon found thrills in bed with other men although I didn’t see it at the time.
On Valentine’s Day 2017 she asked me to move out. Shocked I said wtf?? She gave me a story about needing space to figure stuff out. I left for a week. 2 months later I took our kids to FL for a vacation and she stayed home. Total silence from her when we got back. Cold shoulder, no sex. Months of being isolated and confused led me to drink after the kids went to bed, trying to fully pain. I went to her several times seeking to work on things. Months of stonewalling is hurtful and abusive.
Finally I got her to see a counselor w me. It seemed to help but looking back it was really just me investing in it, not her. She was her priority, not us. A couple of months later we were back to silent loathing. Holidays sucked. I knew she had a double life but I couldn’t reel her in. Spring of 2018 I’m begging her to join me in our marriage. She laughs at me. Says she’s been there and tried and she wants no more. So I try to be perfect, I’m avoiding anything that could upset her. Wrong approach. She sees me as emasculated, not strong and confident like I’d always been. Who could be when things are falling apart??
Then in June 2018 things suddenly turn to good. Sex, dates, etc. In July I get a call from an old friend telling me someone who knows us saw her in a bar in May and went home with a dude. A dude we know, friend of her brothers. I put it together – she went out after her mom’s 80th bday party with her siblings whole I brought our kids home like the loving dad does. She said she spent the night at her mother’s house – she screwed the family friend. 2 month later, 1 week after a family vacation that we all had a blast at, she’s back at it again having a one night stand with a 27 yo kid in Maine while having a girls weekend. So she comes back from Maine, I see her phone records and confront her a week later. Why call this number at 2:30am and then 45 calls and texts for the next 4 days, 3 of which were back at our house? She says yes she did things – go fuck yourself. Now, I don’t want to lose my family, I want still to reconcile because obviously she lost her mind – it’s no longer my wife – my wife wouldn’t do those things!, so eventually she agrees to go back to the counselor that was helping us.
There after 6 weeks, she admitted adultery, said she was sorry, but really she wasn’t. We saw the counselor for 3 months through the holidays. It was all a charade. In January she stopped going to counseling and started stonewalling again. In April she filed for divorce. Her plan since 2/17 all along.
Our teen daughters love her completely and I’m now like an ogre to them, so they are supporting her and are still nice to me but don’t care if I’m around or not. I get that, teen girls and fun mom with no rules, but it still sucks.
I worked so hard to get so much for us – lake house, fancy boats, fancy cars, huge house, great vacations, everything, and now my wife has been cheating for years and wants out and I’m going to get hammered. My lawyer says her cheating is not a factor, judges just dont want to hear it in our state – VT. Nope – I’m going to lose.
She’ll get about $1.2M (half of our equity) plus maybe $10,000/mo – totally tax free! How can this be possible???? I was a good provider, good husband and father, I’m a charitable decent person. How is this fair? And I’m paying for her lawyer to drag this out and screw me even harder. I make about $300k but if my numbers are right, after taxes I’ll have about $2k/mo to live on because single income taxes are about 45% higher in my income bracket than married rates.
I’m 53 years old. This is very f’d up! I’ve actually thought of suicide. I have a great therapist who is helping, and lots of supportive friends, but I just can’t believe the amazing life we had can be snatched away by a lazy cheating wife like this. Someone please tell me how much better my life will be one say and how I’m supposed to get there.
Hey Mike – I’m here in Australia mate.
Gotta tell you that story is 100% how I feel.
Had an ex cheat on me while my son was 2 she was on a trip to Bali.
She left drained the bank account and was a complete nut case.
I then meet my wife, she helps me raise my son.
Helps me fight in court against the ex, tells me she would never do anything like the other one.
Begs me to do IVF as she wants to complete our family.
Do it and 12 months later after she was back at work tells me she’s not happy and leaves takes my baby.
All of a sudden the boy she helped me raise is invisible and the other ex comes and takes him also.
Our life was great !!! Bloody brilliant !!
Now I am the same as you, where the fuck do I go from here ?
My mates say things will get better mate stay positive – fucked if I can see what’s to be positive about ?
Sorry I meant Jaime – was replying to Jaime
So much like my story. We went 7 years without sex or intimacy, i built our business up and she was MIA, except for the kids. Then when I pushed for us to see a therapist she said I had a sex addiction problem…total BS. Took me.for.1.9M plus forced me to sell the business so she could cash out leaving me unemployed for 1 year now, she falsifyied financial documents to overstate my income and left me screwed, so.I am also.angry and at 57 a bit overwhelmed by it
Holy crap man… I thought I had it bad… from what you have shared seems to me like you are a good dad and are there for your kids both physically and financially… I’m a single dad of twin girls.. their mom is not in their lives presently (drugs).. good on you for building your business while still being a good father/husband.. If I may offer you some advice… teenage girls may enjoy a party mom with no rules right now, but who are they going to call when they have an actual “real life” problem…. YOU! suicide is not an option your kids need there dad!
I’m in my 2nd marriage. My first wife and I were married 14 years and built a nice life before she cheated with her boss. I divorced her using irreconcilable differences and she got half. But…our 4O1k’s were a wash and I bought her out of the home, which I made a nice profit on. Not too bad…both of us were whole and happy. We parted on good terms.
Fast forward to 2011…I married the current wife and thought she hung the moon. I started making good money again. I had my 401k from my first marriage and rolled it to an IRA before I got married. Then I started a second one…before I we got married…and that is the current one….I recently stopped contributing to.
The house was mine prior to the marriage. She works and makes ok money. I make 2x what she makes. She has never contributed to the mortgage but has paid for groceries. I feel the equity in the home should be mine but have to give her a chunk of it. Same with the 401k’s. Only married 8 years…why does she deserve any of it? I would have had the same equity in all of my assets if I hadn’t married her. It sickens me that I’m only 5 years away from retirement but now there will be no retirement thanks to her. She cheated with some guy in the gym 4 yrs ago and I forgave her, went to counseling together until we thought we were better but we weren’t…so I continued to go on my own.
Then I find out this wife who was never supposed to hirt me again visited her boss’s house three weeks ago…on a Sunday at noon. I put the call into my attorney…finally. It is unfair that I will end paying through the nose to rid myself of this cruel and unfaithful person I married. She has little problem lying to my face. She knew what I had gone through with my first wife…yet nothing stopped her from doing the exact same thing. Obviously I made a huge mistake. The sad truth is I have love her so very much and I never wanted to Divorce her. But she is a liar and a cheater and the trust is gone. The money will be worth the freedom to live the twilight of my life as myself, instead of serving someone else up everything I’ve worked for my entire life. Never again.
“I’m sure it has something to do with the wife siding with the ex and her husband having to go along with it and I understand that. It’s a tough thing to maintain friendships with bitter rivals and choosing a side is only logical.”
Really? You blame the women automatically, not surprising I guess. You think other men just can’t think for themselves and have their own opinions of your behaviour?
Hmmm… After reading these comments I’ve got to say there is a whole lot of blame going around, and not a lot of reflecting. I totally understand the feeling of bitterness when you are left by someone, but if this has happened to you more than once I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that there’s two sides to the story, and we’re only hearing one.
Even if you’re only responsibility is that you picked a similar person–again; you should try to find out why. My ex was emotionally abusive and I wasn’t treated with respect. His behavior in actions were not right in any way, but I had a part to play. I chose him for a reason whether unconsciously or not. I have decided not to be a victim and discover what it is about me that keeps choosing people who don’t value me. I really suggest that some of you do the same.
What’s your wives or partners did was not okay, but if you refuse to see your role in it you are doomed to repeat this again unless you swear off relationships forever…