“The Crappy Stuff Is Fertiliser For New Growth” – How I Got Through Two Divorces
Marriage and family break-ups are perhaps one of the hardest experiences to live through. The loss is akin to a death, even if it is something mutually agreed upon.
I have been there twice and as painful as those experiences were, I am grateful for the four amazing children that were born through those relationships and the lessons learnt.
There was no gratitude at the time of my first marriage break-up when I was dealing with lawyers, barristers and the family courts. I would swing from all-consuming anger to paralysing fear.
The outcome wasn’t what I was hoping for but it was over and I needed to find a way to move forward.
I didn’t assess it much afterward; I put it down to being too young to marry and the unanswered question I had was, “what had I done wrong to be punished and abused like this?”
I wanted to create a family again, to belong to a family with all that went with it. I met a woman, loved her and intended to get it right this time. We married and had two children.
The first few years were good. We were building a life together. Being a father and traditionally the provider for the family, I didn’t have the continual contact with our children as their mother did. Leaving in the morning and returning in the evening at dinner or bath time. I would cherish that short time with our children as they were growing from babies to toddlers to interesting young people.
But the fallout from the previous marriage, buying a house, creating a business and buying a commercial property and stock to fill it caused pressure between us. I was working hard to pay the mortgages and give my wife and family the best life I could.
I was blamed for the state we were in and I felt unappreciated.
Sadly the children witness the stress, the arguments and absorb the pain, even when it is unexpressed…
Money is the biggest cause of problems in marriage, especially when running your own business. When times are good there are holidays, home improvements, pools and cars. However when times are slow, and there are many, this causes stress between a couple. There is anger, entrapment, arguments, lack of intimacy and possibly infidelity.
You don’t recognise yourself or your partner anymore and you feel alone and disconnected.
Sadly the children witness the stress, the arguments and absorb the pain, even when it is unexpressed. This should be worked on as soon as it starts; a good marriage counsellor can help. Usually couples don’t do so and things continue to deteriorate.
Every now and then there may be good times and fun, but once problems start, and they are not addressed, they will only grow into bigger problems.
The hardest part in all of this, whether you are in a marriage or separated, is the disconnect. If you can stay connected by hearing where the other person is, appreciating that what they feel is valid, then you can navigate or negotiate through anything.
We don’t always have the skills and understanding to do this, so good support or a mediator can be a saving grace.
Although we struggle to understand and accept a new normal post separation, there is much personal growth to be had. There is a new appreciation for our relationships, our relationship with ourselves and our children.
Some of the negatives are profound loneliness, missing the family unit, missing the life connected to the family: friendships, in-laws, family holidays.
Most importantly, though, missing daily contact and the sharing of experiences with your children.
The emotional pain that surfaces which you need to allow through like a waves. In time you let go of the structures and routines that held your previous life together and you begin to build a foundation for a new life.
You are not defined by the house that you owned, the money you had or the ‘life’ you had.
Although this is a painful process, it helps you redefine yourself and your value system.
Creating self-awareness and an understanding of what constitutes a healthy, balanced relationship.
My advice would be to allow support both professionally and personally during this difficult time and to know that as with all things, time heals. Things can be damn awful but the crappy stuff is fertiliser for new growth. I can guarantee that your life won’t always feel the way it does.
There is no failing in who you are. You are not defined by the house that you owned, the money you had or the ‘life’ you had.
You are much more than that! You can only feel it when you let the pain go.
Before I go, some tips:
1. The family court is a frightening place; I highly recommend to stay away if possible. If you both have a close friend that can act as a mediator, this could save lots of heartache and dollars! Otherwise you can pay for one.
2. Stay connected, to yourself, your children, your partner. Your willingness to do so can change everything.
3. Do something regularly for fun or fitness, just for you. I took up boxing: there is much joy in something so simple.
4. Males shouldn’t marry until at least 30 as we’re still maturing!
Jamie Allpress is a Melbourne-based dad of four and owns Allpress Antiques. Follow Allpress Antiques on Facebook here.