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The topic of divorce has peen popping up recently through this blog (albeit only four days young) and with people Jennifer and I have been talking about DrivenWoman. Divorce help may not become the core topic of DrivenWoman, but it certainly has a prominent place in the vocabulary of women who have decided to move forward. I’m not saying that everyone should go kick their other halves to the street just yet, I’m just very aware that many women who have wanted to build something of themselves have had to make that decision when they have discovered that their husband is not particularly supportive of their ambitions. And why would you waste your life living with a person who doesn’t believe in you?

Moreover, women who’s husbands have left them would have had to choose a path of growth rather than that of a victim if they wanted to move forward. Lisa Arends describes the difficulty of moving on in her article on Huffington Post ‘At The Intersection of Divorced and Engaged’ beautifully. She has chosen to embrace life and fall in love again. And yes, we have the choice to do that, it is not just random stuff that happens. We choose to either let go and for give or to hang on to our difficult experiences, which we all have to variable degree.

But then what about those women who become ‘victims’? I once sat at my friend’s 45th birthday dinner table of 15 or so women over 40, some closer to 50. This group of women ‘had it all’: rich husbands, beautiful homes, children, designer handbags. Some also had careers. And many were going through a divorce. The horrible husband had left with a younger woman. You know the story. “This is what I get for 20 years of marriage and bringing up the children! Nothing. Not even a thank you!” was the cry from these slim and beautiful 40 something women. And then everyone would go… ahh, poor you. What a horrible man he is! Isn’t he?

I don’t think so. I have seen, from very close, how two people can create a marriage that looks and almost feels perfect. It is build on the imagined expectations of the other person. It is build on the ‘perfect me’ illusion. It is based on half truths. And nobody never bothers to ask the other person what do they really want in life. There are not necessarily even that many arguments because the other person thinks they know what the other one wants to hear, so they can self-censor the message before sending it. Years pass, and two people become strangers in their own house. In this situation they are both, the wife and the husband, equally responsible for the state of their marriage. Okey, just walking out and running away with that 32 year old blond may not be the very adult way of handling things, but it may be the only way the man can see a way out. He does the best he can given the emotional resources he has at that moment.

There is no point to bitch and complain. The woman never bothered to find out what the husband really wanted. How he wanted to live. How often he wanted sex. And the woman has long ago turned mumsy and motherly so there is only so much sex you want to have with that anyway. And she nags. And she only talks about running of the household. She may not have had much content in her own life and now the kids have grown up and she has not filled her day with something more purposeful than a lunch with friends in town.

This story is totally fictive and I’m also being a bit provocative to get my point across. And naturally there are as many stories as there are divorces. Still, I’d invite everyone to honestly look at the mirror and think if they were in-tune with their ex and if they knew what was really going on?

When I got divorced I thought I would not want to end up in the same situation again. I fully took more than 50% of the blame on my own shoulders and thought what would I do differently. Not what I would have done differently as looking back is pointless. Everyone always makes the best possible decisions at any given time in their life. So it is silly to think you could have chosen differently. I was looking forward and I wanted to prepare for the round number 2.

When we started dating with my current husband, at the time boyfriend, I wanted an insurance policy. I proposed him that we would have a once a year MOT of our relationship. We would call it a Board Meeting, as we are both more familiar with the business terminology. The agenda and the rules were set 3 months into our dating. Our agenda is always the same with topics such as Vision (what do we want out of life), Strategy (how we are going to get there), Values, Benefits and Areas (everything from sex to money, holidays to family will be covered). We always stay in the same London hotel (when we were dating we did not live here but we still go to the same hotel now that we do) and we dedicate the whole of Saturday for the agenda. We start by going through the notes from last year (did we put in practise the improvements we promised?) and then note down what we want from this year or how our opinions have changed. The rules are that there should be no topic that we could not discuss and everyone must feel absolutely free to express any opinion or emotion.

This practise has created a very open culture in our relationship. We don’t need to wait until the next Board Meeting to discuss our topics, we deal with everything openly on a daily basis. I know exactly what my husband wants out of life and what he wants from me as his partner, and vice versa. He will not run away with a blond all of a sudden, even though I do keep that option open for him. I tell him that if he wants to have more kids he has to find a younger bird ;). Also I like calling him the ‘current husband’ as it emphasises the urgency of taking care of our relationship every day. And he is strong enough handle such rough humour.

Another aspect about taking full responsibility of one’s own marriage is to openly and honestly look at the starting point, those rosy dreams that most marriages are based on. How many of us who get married under 30 really know themselves and what they want from life? How many can honestly say they know who the husband really is?

Have you gone through a separation which has proved to be a blessing in disguise? Have you experienced becoming stronger because of a divorce? We would like to hear your views. Again, a personal story may help someone in a similar situation. I hope mine has.

~Miisa

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