As a divorce coach I see a lot of people stuck in the pain, drama, and turmoil that accompanies divorce. Some are even trapped in, what I call a cycle of blame and living as a victim. They may feel that the divorce was “done” to them. While I can understand that many people are blindsided by the announcement of divorce, I find it difficult to believe that there were no warning signs. Upon further questioning, the “victim” of the divorce does concede that their spouse seemed unhappy for a long time, distant, or even angry and hateful. Many times, the client themselves may even admit to having been miserable in the marriage for a long time. Yet they feel shocked that their spouse filed for divorce despite the fact that they claim to have been verbally abused, mistreated, unappreciated, or unloved in their marriage. So why blame the other spouse for the divorce?
When you become the victim, you don’t have to accept responsibility of your part in the demise of the marriage. I have seen women vehemently swear how HORRIBLE their ex-husbands were in the marriage. They claim he was a terrible father, inattentive husband, and lousy companion. Yet, THEY were the victims of the divorce. HE left HER. How dare he! She was a doting, faithful wife! Well, I’m here to remind you know that he was not the only one in the marriage. It takes two to make a marriage successful. It’s time to reflect and figure out what led you to where you are. If he was so terrible, what led you to marry him? What red flags did you overlook?
The new buzzword in the divorce world is “narcissism”. I sometimes hear my clients say, “My ex is a narcissist. He was gaslighting me. I was manipulated. He did this to me. He did that to me. It’s not fair.” I do sympathize with those who struggle with high conflict people. It is truly a disempowering experience. There’s been a lot of research about the psychology of narcissism. However, there’s been little research about those who marry the narcissists. It’s important to understand that healthy people who value themselves and establish healthy boundaries DON’T stay married to people with psychological disorders.
So if you’re labeling your ex-spouse as a narcissist or another disorder, it may be time to stop blaming them for the divorce and look at why you got into the marriage in the first place. What attracted you to this person? And once their mask was unveiled, what led you to stay? The little research that has been done regarding spouses of narcissists reveals that they are eager to please and are able to dismiss red flags that narcissists display which most of us would heed as warning signs.
Remarriages end at a much higher rate than first marriages. A significant reason for this is that many partners jump into another marriage before doing the introspection on themselves. It’s important to do an autopsy of your first marriage before moving into a new relationship. People bring their baggage from one relationship into the next. Rather than looking within and finding out how they contributed to the divorce, many people feel that the other person was the cause of the broken relationship. If they find the “right” partner, the marriage will end in happily ever after this time. By marrying someone new, they feel that the marriage will work. This flawed view of marriage leads to even more divorces. Third marriages have an even more disastrous divorce rate.
This article is written out of love, not blame. My intention in sharing this is to have people impacted by divorce to really reflect and do some introspection of themselves. We can only change and improve ourselves-thus improving what we bring into the next relationship and our world. Although difficult, it’s time to reflect about your own decisions, your communication style, your conflict management techniques, and how your past impacts the choices you make today. Finding the right therapist or life coach can help you uncover those issues that may be sabotaging you. Until you’ve taken accountability, the likelihood of being another sad divorce statistic remains high.