How do you feel about your separation or divorce? Are you only able to focus on the negativity? I completely understand if that’s where you are. It took me some time to be able to see my separation as a positive experience. At first I felt betrayed. And a lot of anger. But now things are better than good. It just took a change in my perspective. Since the divorce I have found that life is all about perspective. Separation and divorce often feels like great loss, and sometimes it is, at least initially. But a simple change in perspective can turn the most seemingly negative situation into something positive. This list is a reflection of my change in perspective. The reasons below are a great ones to celebrate life after divorce, no matter how much you’ve felt like you have lost.
My Bank Account Always Reflects What I think it Should
I lost half of my income when my wife and I separated. I still have to pay my mortgage and all the bills. Sometimes things are tight, but I always manage to do it. My ex and I were both teachers. We always saved enough to live off of in the summer, and we never really lacked for anything, but at the end of the month we were always broke again. It’s amazing: I now only have half of that income, have most of the same bills, and everything still gets paid. The best part is, I always know what’s in my checking account! It reflects almost the exact amount I would expect it to at the end of the month. In other words, no more surprises. This has been one of the most empowering realities of my new situation. When I stopped worrying about losing half of my income and realized I was in total control of my finances, it no longer bothered me that I was making less. It’s not always about how much comes in. It’s also about the choice of how it’s spent.
I Can Save Money More Efficiently
Even though I technically make half of what I did, I can still save money more efficiently. Notice I didn’t say I could save more, just more efficiently. It’s nice knowing that if I want to save up for a bigger purchase, it’ll happen. It won’t get spent on something else unless I decide that it will. Suffice to say, I’ve gotten some things I have always wanted but was never able to.
I am the King of my Castle Again
It feels good to be in total control of my living space. I can rearrange the living room, closet, or the bedroom anyway I please. I can leave the television on and sleep on the couch once a weekend without hearing any complaining. These may seem like minor things, but after awhile, you realize how important they really are to you. Take for example the following scenario:
One of the things I hated to do when living with my ex was wash the dishes, but only because she liked to pile up the sink with food-caked pots, pans, and baking sheets until dinner was over. There’s nothing wrong with this if you don’t mind cleaning up immediately after eating, but I like to make sure the counters are cleaned and the dishes are rinsed and put into the dishwasher before I eat. Then I don’t have to worry about it later. After eating I want to relax and let my food digest. Now I make dinner and clean up the kitchen as I go. Then all I have to do is rinse and put away one or two dishes when I’m finished.
This expands into many other areas of my house. If I want to wake up on a Saturday morning and write a blog post when my mind is clear before doing laundry, cleaning the bathroom, grocery shopping, or mowing the grass, I can. And there’s no complaining about being lazy. There’s hardly any peace of mind that can compare with that.
You Don’t Have to Answer to Your Spouse Anymore.
My ex was not a bad person. But I was always answering to her about something. When we separated, that all ended. At first I wasn’t in the right mindset to see how great it was. After months of not having to try and make anyone happy except myself, I felt a deep sense of relief that I hadn’t felt in a long time. I went from being depressed about what I thought I had lost to a deep appreciation of what I had gained. Basically, more freedom. When you’re with someone that makes you feel like life isn’t a team effort, why sweat losing it?
Grocery Shopping Became Much Easier, Especially on my Wallet!
I’ll admit it; my ex did most of the grocery shopping. Some might say that was nice. But the truth is the exact opposite. She used to keep a ton of extra food that we never ate in our pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. Grocery store visits are now a joy to me because I only have to buy what I want. Believe me, it’s much cheaper. And my refrigerator, pantry, and freezer have that nice, spotless, clean look every time I open them. Sometimes they’re a little bare, but food choices are much easier. No clutter. It’s simple. Inviting even. Just the way I like it.
I Learned to Cook.
My Ex also did most of the preparation and cooking for dinner. I manned the grill of course and made morning omelets, but not much else. Since we split I’ve been forced to cook. And I actually enjoy it. So have some of the girls I have dated since my ex.
I’ve found there’s nothing more enjoyable than having a beer or two while cooking and trying new recipes. Becoming a better cook felt like personal growth. It was one of the more rewarding things I learned to do, and I quickly learned how appreciative other people are for your newfound skill. Trust me on this one: becoming a better cook takes you a long way with new dates.
Life Felt Adventurous Again Through Dating!
Many people suggest waiting awhile before dating after a long marriage or serious relationship. I understand the logic behind it. You need time to heal and get to know yourself. If you’re looking for something serious right away, you’re really just rebounding. But I recommend getting back into the dating scene right away anyway, especially once you know it’s permanently over with the ex. It’s a great confidence booster and with modern technology there’s tons of opportunity. Don’t get me wrong. After a long marriage dating can suck if you look at it with the wrong perspective. You’re getting to know someone all over again, and you never know them until you KNOW them. This takes time, energy, and resources. But when I learned not to have many expectations, dating became fun. I met a lot of interesting people and enjoyed some great nights out. It took my mind off the Ex and gave me a chance to feel free again.
Besides, I quickly learned how much control you have when you step out into the modern dating world. If you don’t like someone on the first date, you don’t have to call them back. And if you hit it off, well, there could be more than a few perks you’ll get along the way. J
My House and daily Routines are More Peaceful
This is a biggie. Towards the end of our relationship, the ex and I argued constantly. I take an equal share of the blame for that, but regardless, it’s exhausting. We often began in the morning before work from unresolved issues the night before. You probably know the deal. Work becomes a chore because you can’t focus on what’s in front of you. The Ex occupies your mind most of the day. Work becomes secondary and job performance goes out the window. Before you know it, work piles up more and every day gets worse. By the end of the week, you’re so drained that you can’t even enjoy the weekend. That’s no way to live. If your weeks have come to this, you’re better off ending without her.
I’ve Become More Courageous, Confident, and Risk-taking
In the beginning of our separation, I was fearful, lacked confidence, and did everything I could to mitigate risk. I had a fear of screwing up. The failed marriage had a lot to do with that. It psychologically imprinted something into my brain. But I think that’s normal for a lot people, as long as it doesn’t stick. My point is, after six months or so, all that began to change. My truer self and desires began to reemerge once again.
Early in my marriage I wanted to invest some time in different business opportunities. I didn’t have the know-how and experience yet to be really successful with what I had planned to do, and I had a few minor setbacks. I never lost any large amounts of money so to speak, but I did lose some time. Mostly because she was so non-supportive, and after about arguing my time spent in pursuing these business opportunities, she eventually crushed my spirit for adventure and I gave up. I realized that my ex had no confidence in my ability or decision-making process, and it wasn’t worth the fight. I had a secure teaching job that would have always put food and shelter on the table, so I thought it was okay to venture out a little even if it meant I wouldn’t be successful in some of the things I pursued.
I no longer blame her for this. She had a different mentality and didn’t understand that in order to be truly successful in life, you have to fail a little and take some risks. All she could think about was being safe and secure and having kids. That’s also natural for some women. But Lessons in becoming successful are learned the hard way. She just didn’t get that. It wasn’t that I was right and she was wrong. It’s just we weren’t compatible and didn’t see life in the same way.
I have recently re-embarked on some of that business opportunity. We’ll see how it goes in the long-run, but at least I feel a lot better and now have the energy and desire to go after it again. The best part is, she’s no longer able to hold me back. And I’m confident that eventually I’ll succeed in whatever I put my mind to because I have the time to invest in it. I feel like I’ve cut the anchor loose, so to speak. At any rate, I can move forward in way that I couldn’t before.
I Have Every Other Weekend Free
My ex and I share the kids, so I get every other weekend free. No more long and frequent driving trips to in the in-laws and no more weekends tied up into something that doesn’t interest me. Don’t get me wrong. I loved her in-laws. I was one of the lucky ones who married into a kind and fun family. But my family got neglected. We rarely traveled back to Va. Beach to see my sister, mother, and father and the kids missed out on a lot their close relatives. That’s all changed.
The downside is I’ve had to sacrifice by not seeing my kids every weekend, but this is beyond my control so I decided not to dwell on it or be angry. They’re managing fine and I have learned to do so as well.
I can also plan ahead and complete projects I have wanted to get done for a long time. Like starting this blog, for example. I can write a lot more. I can also plan more bass and trout fishing trips with the guys and even visit my family and college friends in Va. Beach as often as I want. I also spend more time at the bowling alley on $1.50 game night at the local mom and pop bowling alley with a pitcher of beer and good company, whether it be the latest date or with the guys. Having every other weekend free for a renewed social life has been great!
I Can Put More Value into the Kids
I have a better relationship with the kids. Funny how this worked out. My son, daughter and I have done a lot more bonding when it’s just us. It’s given me the chance to grow as a father. I can talk to the kids more openly and freely without being reprimanded for inputting what I feel is important. My Ex and I had very different views about what to introduce them too. I always felt its best not to shelter them too much. For example, I would rather my kids learn about bad language or drugs or sex from me instead of the kids at school. I believe they are exposed to so much more from their peers than when we were children. Better to beat the peers to it. I know I can direct that knowledge in a positive manner instead of sitting back and letting that influence come from immature channels. I feel it builds trust with your kids as well. I want them to feel like they can come and talk to me about anything on their mind. My dad wasn’t the greatest parent when it came to spending time with me when I was young. He worked a lot and I didn’t see him much. But I always felt I could trust him. He was always open and honest about life and taught me a lot adult things in my teenage years that my friends could never go to their parents about. Many of them went wild and viewed life like a candy shop as they got older. I never felt the need. My dad wasn’t that strict on me because he didn’t have to be. He taught me when and how to stay away from things that had the potential to impact my life in very negative ways. But the point is, he educated me about them very early.
I have always felt like my Ex likes to shelter them too much, and then do a lot of reprimanding when the kids are curious and exhibit some of the influences they’re picking up from school. Personally, I believe too much sheltering can have some very negative consequences later on. Sure, you have to put up some fences around them to protect their overall well-being, but you have to make that fence large enough for them to explore, make some mistakes, and learn some valuable life lessons. I believe my ex make that fence too small and restrictive.
I Got to Purchase that Pickup Truck I always Wanted
A few years after marriage, I wanted a pick-up truck. We had an acre yard at our lake house and I was always improving the look of it with stone, shrubbery and palm trees. But I could never get the items I needed from Lowes or Home Depot unless I borrowed someone else’s truck over the weekend. When we separated, I decided that I’d get one when the Corolla (I gave her the newer Mazda CX-9) from the marriage died. I couldn’t afford anything brand new or too decked out, but I got the truck I wanted: a nicely kept used Ford Ranger with an extended cab and 4-wheel drive. It even has a lift and some bigger tires. I can honestly say it made me feel younger. More vibrant. It was more me. And now I can pull the bass boat in style. Something the new girlfriend seems to truly appreciate simply because it is more me. That goes a long way over the ex.
Finally, the Garage is Truly Mine
After the ex and I split, I got my garage back. The bass boat is now garage-kept. All the crap she stored that I knew we’d never use again is gone. I have room for all my tools and plenty of space to work with, even with the boat.
For some reason my ex thought it necessary to keep every car seat we bought for the kids, even when they outgrew them! She stored a lot of other unnecessary junk in there as well. It was very pleasant when I finally took all that stuff to the dump.
I Became a Much Neater Person
This was something that surprised me. My ex and I had separate roles when we were together. For example, I did all the bills, the yard work, the vacuuming, and I dropped off the kids to daycare and then school as well as picking them up. She did the laundry, the dishes most of the time, made the kid’s lunches, the grocery shopping, and kept up with the dusting and the bathrooms and all the other cleaning. I do appreciate her for it now more than ever, because I realize that cleaning the house is a full-time job in itself. Especially when it comes to the kid’s laundry. But I’ve become efficient at it. In a way I was forced to, but I’ve developed a routine that works. And the best part is, my house is completely clutter-free. I hate clutter. I’m more of a Spartan kind of guy when it comes to the house. It’s simple and easy. Less is better, and easier to clean! My house doesn’t necessarily have a woman’s touch anymore, but I’ve found that I’d rather have a clutter-free environment than anything else, at least for now. There’s been talk of the new girlfriend moving in. I’m sure things will change if she does, but if I find we work together in a way that benefits us both, I’m more than willing to sacrifice this aspect of my home once again.
Life is So Much Simpler
I got married fairly early in life. Fourteen years later I was stuck in a mold. I had forgotten how simple life could actually be. For the most part, I come and go as I please. I feel freer, and it has had a major impact on my psychological health. When my ex and I first split, I was devastated. I thought I would hate being alone. But the exact opposite became true. It gave me the chance to discover myself all over again and life got easier, not harder. The truth is, we really weren’t that compatible, and I don’t think either of us now has any regrets looking back. And that’s a good thing for both of us. I’m sure she could counter much of this list with reasons she is happier. But the point is, this list was the part of the fodder I needed to see that my life is really better now.
If you’ve just recently separated and you’re not feeling good about it and you’ve happened upon this list, take hope. If the marriage went bad before the separation or divorce, you’re definitely going to feel better…in time. Trust me. There’s a lot to look forward to, even if you can’t see it now. So hang in there, and learn to enjoy all the new opportunity. Learn to see it. And to value it. Life throws us big challenges like separation and divorce for a reason. Get past the fault mindset. And whether it was more their fault or yours, or equal, realize the positive in the situation. You have much to be thankful for and look forward to.
Feel free to comment and add to the list. I’m sure there are plenty of guys out there who can think of a million things I’ve missed. And if you’re a woman reading this post, I’m sure you’ll have a lot to add from your gender’s perspective. Nothing wrong with that, and it’s probably just as true from your perspective. Life is all about perspective, isn’t it?