How To Stop Blaming Yourself For Your Divorce… And Start Making Better Decisions For Your Kids… And For You!
In a society when it seems somebody is always to blame, divorced dads are an easy target.
The thing is, it’s not just others that are pointing the finger at us… more often than not, we’re very quick to blame ourselves for the break-up of our marriage or relationship. Often, those feelings of guilt will nag away at us… day after day… chipping away at our self-belief and confidence.
That then leads to us making bad decisions. Because we feel like we’re the one to blame for the divorce, we then take on the blame for our kids being unhappy… or angry… or uncertain (and many other emotions they’re feeling) and we start to compromise and give in to demands made by our ex… even when we know what she’s asking (or demanding!) isn’t fair or isn’t best for the kids.
This was something I really struggled with for many years… and it caused huge problems with my relationship with my kids and resulted in some poor decisions, initially, when we were sorting out finances. You see… because I felt responsible for the pain being felt by my ex and my kids, I simply ‘gave in’ to many of her demands and compromised on just about everything.
The thing is, everything pointed to our separation, and eventual divorce, being my fault. After all, I was the one that had an affair… I was the one that decided to end things… the one that felt there was no point in trying to remedy our faltering marriage. In effect, I didn’t ‘have a leg to stand on’… there was nowhere for me to turn… nobody that I could blame… except myself, of course! And just about everyone else was blaming me too… so that just confirmed my position as the cause of our break-up.
Now, before I go any further, I just want to say, having an affair is wrong. I was wrong. I was in a marriage where the love we once had for each other had simply dried up. We were practically living as brother and sister. We didn’t have many arguments, but we didn’t share things with each other either. We’d grown apart and although we’d discussed it a few times, nothing ever changed… because it couldn’t. We just didn’t feel the same way about each other any more.
Now, I wasn’t looking for an affair… I didn’t even see it coming… but it happened and I then felt almost powerless to put an end to it… even though I tried on more than one occasion. I’ll talk more about this in future posts, but for now I think you get the picture and you can see why I was blaming myself for our break-up.
Until that is, I went to visit a couple that we’d both been good friends with for many years. I remember feeling a bit awkward as I walked into a house we’d been into many times as a couple. It was recently decorated and the hallway was impressive in size. I walked across the wooden floor into the kitchen. As ever, Jenny was cooking and the worktops were covered with fresh ingredients. Jack offered me a cold beer from the fridge, which I readily accepted.
Jenny was unusually quite, but then, out of the blue turned and asked, “So what was wrong with your marriage then, Keith? I can’t see why you’d have an affair if everything was OK with the two of you, so something must have been wrong… nobody has an affair if they’re happily married, do they?”
I was taken aback by Jenny’s directness, of course, even though we were very good friends. But it was the first time I really started to think about our relationship… and about what actually went wrong.
Look, I want to reiterate… having an affair is wrong and definitely not the best thing to do, whatever state your marriage is in. I regret it completely and would always advise against it. Me having an affair was a symptom of a marriage that was failing… and we, as a couple, didn’t do anything to heal an ailing relationship. We hadn’t worked hard enough to keep things going and we didn’t put in the time and effort needed to stay in love with each other.
So, although I take full responsibility for having an affair and the pain that caused my ex, I do not take all of the blame for our marriage breaking down.. or for the suffering that my daughters have gone through… because much of that was caused by things said and done by my ex in an attempt to get back at me. Again… more of that in future posts. But what’s important today, is that I have been able to analyse my marriage and see that, in reality, we both have to take joint responsibility for it not working. You know, sometimes relationships just don’t last forever. We just have to accept that, move on, and stop blaming each other and ourselves.
Nobody is to blame.
Sometimes people separate and we just have to get on with life and make the best of it that we can.
Things don’t always work out.
Stop looking for blame and accept you did your best, but it just wasn’t to be.
So, if you’re taking the blame for your break-up, even if you had an affair… start to look at things differently.
Start to understand that not all relationships last forever
It’s never just down to one person.
It shouldn’t be about blame.
It should be about accepting that it hasn’t worked out… and then about moving forward for the good of everyone… and especially the kids.
Once you stop talking all the blame for the things that went wrong in your relationship, you’ll be far more empowered to negotiate better deals for you and your kids.
You’ll no longer feel like you have to be the one to compromise, as a way of making up for messing up in the first place.
You’ll put yourself in a position of strength… not weakness.
If this post leaves you with some unanswered questions… and you feel a 10-15 minute discussion could help you find some clarity…
There’s no charge.
I’d just like to help.
Until next time…
On a Mission to Help Divorced Dads Find a Way to Excel