This is a letter I wrote to some aquaintances. I call them that, not friends, as I never really felt comfortable with how they were with each other or with their kids – way too much yelling, hitting, and just a sense that they, as a couple, didn’t like each other very much.
As you can imagine, not the healthiest of people to be around when I was in my own little meltdown realm.
Anyway, I was not surprised to learn earlier this year that their marriage was over – but I was surprised at my own reaction. I guess they were the first people I knew, with similarly aged children to our own, to end this way. They were also the first to behave pretty darn badly and well, that just brought back all the childhood memories of my own. Why, why WHY do we become so nasty so quickly? I can talk, I do it with my children, my husband, my mother. But still, I have no answers…
29 May 2003
Dearest K & A,
I’m compelled to write to you both. I realise there are probably issues of allegiance and alliance as become unavoidable in these situations, but I had to do something and I felt this was probably the best way at this stage.
I am so deeply saddened by the news that you two are seeking a divorce. As someone who went through a divorce with her parents, I implore you to please please please fight. Fight to work through this stage, fight to stay with each other, fight for your history together and fight for a future your children may otherwise never know.
I can not tell you how many times I have wanted to walk away from being with AB, the most recent was in November last year. Yep, been to hell and back with my own parents divorce and it still looked like the only option.
The thing is, it is not an option. It is NOT an option. You guys have had an incredibly rough time – not only have you had three children in relatively quick succession, there have been periods of job instability and subsequent untold financial strain.
I have had extended periods of time with AB at home when Oscar was young and it was indeed the blackest, bleakest time of our lives. But there is another side, you do come out of the tunnel. Walking away may seem like the only answer, it may seem like the easiest solution to a great deal of hurt, anguish, unspoken resentment, anger and confusion, but it is not the solution.
You HAVE to talk. You HAVE to go and see someone together – and, even more importantly, alone. If at the end of that time (and I’m talking 6-12 months) it is mutual and amicable, THEN it is perhaps an option to divorce from each other.
You both OWE it to your three beautiful children to sit down with a third, unrelated, impartial party, spill your guts and then sift through them to work out the real issues from the immediate responses you are both feeling at the moment.
You have to realise that for your children this will be a turning point in their lives that will change the course of their lives for the rest of their lives. FORGET what it is doing to you. Realise this:
They will spend THE REST of their lives trying to mediate and be even with each of you, all the time feeling guilt and betrayal to one or other of you as it is an impossible balance to achieve.
Every SINGLE birthday, major event – be it graduation, becoming a school prefect, major birthdays, getting married, having a child – will NO LONGER be a source of joy and happiness, but marred by hoping Mum and Dad can be in the same room together or that Mum or Dad will cope with seeing Mum or Dad with their new partner.
Weekends can’t be spend mucking around with mates and chilling out, but seeing one or other parent and trying to forge a relationship that is impossible in a 48 hour period every other weekend.
You will think you are shielding them from your petty or grave differences – YOU WON’T – children see every single nuance between their parents and it marks them for life.
You will think it is something that happened to the two of you, when in fact, the most impact is on them.
You will think they are better off having you separately than together – they’re NOT. That is a highly researched statistic as well as something I can tell you from experience.
You are both adults, you need to remember why you fell in love, why you got together, accept that life changes, that your relationship changes as you bring children, mortgages and other life events into it and that you BOTH have to adjust to that, because, simply, its life.
Please, I am imploring you both to accept that it has taken actions and words, or lack thereof, by both of you to make the current scenario exist at all.
Accept that BOTH of you will have to make changes, sacrifices and allowances for each other to rebuild your life together. Accept you both will have to recognise your role in the situation and be genuinely open and honest in your own shortcomings as well as those that seem so apparent in each other at the moment. But most importantly, recognise that down the track, it will be so WORTHWHILE compared to the current track you are heading down.
Here is the number of a relationships counsellor that a couple I am friends with went to when they had separated over what they thought were irreconcilable differences due to untold stress and emotional hurt due to fertility issues:
I’m writing this, I know, at the risk of jeopardising my friendship with you both. But I am desperate for you to realise this current path will not make it all better or make it all go away. I am also speaking for J, S and C who are too little to be able to voice what way too many children know and have experienced.
This is not the answer guys. It is simply not the answer.
Finally, and most importantly, BE KIND TO EACH OTHER. While it may be difficult at the moment to see why on earth you ever got together in the first place, remember those good times, remember you have made a family together and that the family that weathers the worst storms together, are a true family indeed.
I love you both and am so very very sad that this is all taking place.