The happy side to ending a marriage

The happy side to ending a marriage

Last weekend my husband and I broke the news to our kids that we’d be living apart from now on. After 10 years co-habiting, seven years of marriage and two kids together – plus one I brought in from a previous relationship – we think it’s better to go our separate ways.

In so much as people who share children can go their separate ways, of course. There will still be birthdays, and cups of tea, and dinners and outings together sometimes. We’ll still be together at swimming carnivals, footy games and ballet recitals. Next week we’re all hunting for Easter eggs together.

But the part of our relationship where we love and support each other through whatever life throws at us is finished. The bit where you can get a big warm hug after a tough day – that’s finished. It’s not for me to say publicly why our marriage ended. That’s a story the two of us share, and I respect my ex and our children too much to tell stories that aren’t just mine to tell.

The happy side to ending a marriage
With my gorgeous mum on my wedding day.

What I can share is my experience of the end. There has been sorrow. There has been anger. There has been frustration. There has been depression. So much emotion. So much sadness. And, lately, a whole lot of numbness.

Because before a relationship ends, it has to get bad enough that you want it to end. It has to get to a point where you don’t see enough hope that you can find your way back to each other, to the way you were before. When you loved one another fearlessly and couldn’t imagine a life without the two of you. When you kissed for minutes at a time and the sound of their voice saying your name gave you butterflies.

That process of going from butterflies to wanting it to end takes a long time. We saw counsellors. We tried to steer our ship against the tide that was pushing us towards a massive wreck but we failed. The tide was too strong and our ship had taken on too much bullshit.

Could we have done more? Maybe. We’ll never know. All we can know for sure is that we are making the best of the decisions we’ve made.

We decided to separate in January but, for a bunch of reasons, we stayed living together until now. We didn’t tell the younger two children because we thought it would be confusing. So we waited.

And we lived in limbo for three months. Those three months were exhausting.

I haven’t written any personal posts in all that time, because I didn’t feel like I could write honestly about anything except for the enormous weight I was carrying with me everywhere I went.

Everywhere I looked, there it was. It was so huge, so heavy, so all-encompassing, it was all I could really think about. But I couldn’t share that weight, so I kept pretty quiet.

But now the secrets are finished. That time has finally passed, and now is the time for great changes.

My husband moved out of our house this week. Even though it’s been a long time coming, it still felt strange and incredibly sad.

We will share custody of the children 50-50. That’s weird too. My kids are lucky enough to have two loving parents who want to spend as much time with them as possible. So as much as I just want them here with me all the time, I know they have much to gain by spending time with both of us.

So all I can do is embrace this new life.  A life where I have more spare time. More time for me. Something us mothers miss when we have kids. Last week I couldn’t pee without three people asking me questions all at once. Now freedom is falling in my lap.

What should I do? Curl up in a ball? Cry about how much I’ll miss my kids, and how I’ve failed as a mother and a wife?

That’s one option, but I’m choosing something different.

This is our new reality, and I’m walking towards it.

I feel lighter because I choose to feel lighter.

I feel ready to start my new life.

I am a strong, capable woman and I feel like I have clear air around me to think straight, to be myself.

I can be unapologetically happy for the first time in a very long time.

Because ending a marriage means being acutely aware of your failings. I know all my flaws and faults. They’ve been laid out for me. We all have them, but I’m sick to the back teeth of apologising for mine.

The happy side to ending a marriage

So now is a time for me to reconnect with myself. To celebrate what makes me brilliant. To drink champagne and dance on the tables. Naked, if I’ve got the blinds down.

Not to celebrate the fact that the man I thought I’d spend the rest of my life with has moved out, but to mark the start of a new phase in my life.

I can wallow in the swill of my marriage failure, or I can seize the opportunity I’ve been given. A fresh start. A new beginning. Independence. Joy.

And I’m choosing joy.

The happy side to ending a marriage
Choosing joy.
Written By

Carolyn is the editorial director of Champagne Cartel and a freelance writer. In her spare time she is a long-distance runner, peanut butter enthusiast, and single mum to three incredible humans.

18 Comments

  • Hi Caroline,
    I have been on the journey you are in now, in fact I’m now 5 years in. My girls were little when we separated and they too share half the time with their father. My divorce was messy and emotional given that my husband left me for another woman – whom now lives with him and is staring a family with him. Above all the drama, weve been able to stay friends so that our girls get the best of us. I’ve had such terrible low times and then suddenly the clouds clear and I really began to enjoy being just me. It’s really hard to get used to not having the girls around at the start, and there were days when the best thing I could do was curl up in my bed and have a cry. I honestly think I needed to have those moments for a bit. However now, I realise the time I have to myself is invaluable. I’m studying for a teaching degree, have a wonderful network of family and friends, I have travelled solo, and get time away from my girls to recharge and in return they get the best mum I can be.

    Good luck in your journey, I wish you and your family all the very best xxx

  • Carolyn your honesty and sensivity at sharing this next chapter of your life is so brave.
    Sending lots of love

  • This is such a beautifully written post. Wishing you a wonderful next phase. A quote I find very helpful for navigating life is C.S. Lewis;”Courage, Dear Heart’. xx

  • Much love here in this post and my love sent to you… take care of yourself in these days & nights ahead and reach out when needed.. D xxxx

  • Oh sweetheart I’m so sorry and I can 100% empathise. Your tale matches mine completely, even down to the 50/50 details. I, too, am sick of apologising for my flaws and failings. I embrace them wholeheartedly. I’ve made some mistakes, a terrible one last year, but I’m tired of justifying them. There was context, there were emotions and I’m someone who follows my heart but doesn’t bury my head in the sand.

    My marriage, too, wasn’t working, and like you, I won’t talk about it in the public space, except to appreciate that my ex is a great dad and a terrific person. It was *us* that wasn’t working and it broke everyone’s heart. But what can you do? As you say, rather than wallow in it, and wonder “could I have done more?” I am happy in myself. I may not always be happy by the constant judgement or scrutiny about how I live my life now I’m a single mum, but I am happy that I can *choose* not to subscribe to it and cut those people from my life. It may sound brutal, but I’ve always lived a bit of a brutal, if passionate, life. I have such love for my kids my heart may burst, and I know their dad will always be there for them as well.

    I see you in you a similar soul. We don’t take shit, we accept when things have come to an end and are not afraid to dive deep into the unknown. It’s terrifying, and beautiful, and challenging, heartbreaking and liberating. It’s all the things. I’ve come to the conclusion that I may be alone the rest of my life. I thought I’d met the love of my life last year, but that ended too because I refused to sugarcoat the situation we were in, in spite of the crazy emotions. But isn’t that what life is? Connecting with humans and letting them into our heart and souls, even with the threat of excruciating pain hovering over it? Life is not about brushing over problems, pretending you’re happy and putting up the facade of a happy relationship when you’re dying inside and wanting to be free.

    I know what you went through last weekend. You have written such a lovely post about it, and I respect you’re decision not to part with the gory details online, as many others do. You will rock life, Carolyn. You know it, though. You are a fearless, brutal phenomenon. Love ya to bits.

  • They say (well a song from the 1990s says) every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. You have so much happiness ahead of you, I know that.
    Much love to your fabulous self. I can’t imagine how hard the past few months have been. Gulp. My uncanny ability to put myself in someone else’s shoes means that I feel deeply for you.

  • Thank you for sharing your story. I separated from husband on NYD, my decision, but it still broke my heart because after 21 years together I just couldn’t stay with someone that I’d fallen out of love with. Despite having two beautiful children who are still young, and who we both love, I decided it was better to separate and show my children that sometimes things don’t work out as planned and that its ok to make changes to become a better person. I want my children to know what it’s like to grow up in a loving household, to see affection but most of all to see me happy and back to the carefree person I was many years ago.

    It’s been tough, we still live together but separately due to our financial situation. I study full time and our assets need to be sold. Not an ideal situation but one that is best for the moment. It’s hard, it’s emotional and to be honest I don’t know how.much longer we can continue down this path. But despite it all, and when the time finally comes to venture out on my own for the first time after 21 years, I’m excited. Excited that I get to be my own person, find the person I used to be, focus on what’s important to me but most of all, live life. Thank you for giving me hope and for showing me that there is a happy life on the other side 😘😘

  • Oh Carolyn you have beautifully encapsulated the feelings surrounding separation. My husband left us in January after 20 years together and 13 years of marriage and I feel devastated. I swing between loss and hope. I too feel like I have failed everyone especially my darling little girls. I am struggling when they go to stay with their Dad I feel completely lost and sad and they often do not want to go which is devastating to manage. I’m trying to stay positive and I hope I can choose joy too. Your experience makes me feel like I am not alone and the feelings I have are known and understood by others, which is of comfort though I am sorry you too are travelling this road. Sending you hugs and lots of love 💗

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