Trying Out Divorce

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If divorce is looking like a tempting option, I recommend you give it a try. But don’t start with a new sex partner or a new home. Start with a new you.
One fellow interviewed for the Huffington Post’s section on divorce said the best thing about divorce was being able to have a beer with the guys after work. If you would, too, this is the place to start. Try not to come home drunk or abusive, but make the time in your day for this thing that you would really enjoy, even if it makes your spouse unhappy.
If you’re thinking you’ll lose weight and get in shape after you divorce, give it a try now. Put some time and effort and money into it, even if it makes your spouse unhappy. Be the happier you while you’re still married.
I thought I would learn to dance if I got divorced. After I became a widow, I discovered married folks learn to dance — without their spouses — all the time. If you would learn to dance (or paint or sing or go ocean kayaking), don’t delay. Just go do it.
If you would be delighted not to pick up after a messy spouse after your divorce, stop picking up after him or her now. If the mess bothers you, get a large basket with a lid for each floor of your house. Stick it in the corner of a room and simply toss the stuff you don’t want to look at in there. If tossing it in there bothers you, hire a teen in your neighborhood to do the tossing on their way home from school. They will appreciate the money, and you’ll be off the hook.
If you would save more if you were divorced, increase your 401K contribution at work or have money automatically deposited from your paycheck into a savings account. Don’t ask for your spouse’s consent, unless the money’s needed for taxes, rent, a mortgage, or a debt obligation. Just start saving.
If you feel better doing these things, tell your husband or wife or life partner. Avoid your nyah-nyah tone. Go for the life-is-good tone. And add a thank you.
Expect your spouse to object to your doing them at first. No one likes a surprise. No one likes change they did not initiate. But no one likes a divorce, either. And almost everyone loves a happier, more grateful spouse.
Some of these changes will happen a lot more easily than you ever expected. Some will cause a ruckus. Once you know if it’s working for you, offer a Third Alternative to your upset spouse. How can you have the good part of your change while relieving your spouse of the upsetting part?
Maybe the two of you could schedule dinner later, so you’re not late to dinner when you have a drink with the guys. You might even offer to make dinner on those nights, even if you have to cook ahead on the weekends or start a crockpot before work.
If money for the new you is an issue, maybe the two of you can find a place in your lifestyle where you can cut back on expenses. Or maybe you can sell hobby gear you no longer use. Or you might even look for a small, part-time job, like something you could offer on fiverr.com.
For eleven years after I was widowed, I spent a lot of time with divorced people. Their certainty that their spouse was incapable of change was pretty much universal. And yet there they were, looking for change. All of them. Married people are capable of change. Divorces happen when they think the other spouse should initiate or approve of the change. Before you divorce, try out the changes you’re looking for. The discomfort involved is so much less than the discomfort of divorce.

About the author

Patty Newbold

I am a widow who got it right the second time. I have been sharing here since February 14, 2006 what I learned from that experience and from positive psychology, marriage research, and my training as a marriage educator.

9 Comments

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  • Patty, this is brilliant advice. I’m not about to divorce my husband over my weight, but I will confess that sometimes I have thought it would be easier to lose the pounds if he weren’t around. The truth is that I’m responsible for my own eating and exercising, and I would still have to make the effort with or without him. Interestingly enough, when I told him I wanted to start taking 2-mile walks before breakfast, he wanted to join me! Now we both start the day with some healthy exercise and get a little extra quality time in our relationship.
    And thanks for the tip about fiverr.com. I had never heard of it, and now I see there are some affordable services there I could use.

  • We have no idea how much support our spouses are capable of giving, do we? But as soon as we just start taking action, surprising things happen.
    And the price is definitely right at Fiverr!

  • Excellent. This is stunning.
    I recently wrote a piece about people choosing one thing to change that would give them a better marriage and the raft of “people can’t change” commentary on Google+ was overwhelming (and sad).
    Of course people can change.
    Patty- this post takes that to the next level, challenging people to become their imagined post-divorce selves while still married. No doubt being the best partner or spouse we can be will be a boost to our marriage and considerably add to our happiness.

  • Ok, Patty! You know you had me with the title. I thought, Patty’s gone batty. You make great points in this article. I don’t think many people see doing those things you wish you could be as an option, but I can see how it might work to save a marriage! You WOWed me again.

  • It’s almost scary how “we” should have thought of your wonderful solution: do it now, before you’re divorced!
    Guess who’s going to an extra marriage counseling session tomorrow? Yep, me! Guess who’s either going to the mountains to frolic w/her pup, or to a movie if I can’t drive that far? Yep, me!
    Not much, but it’ll do for a start… and sounds much better than asking for a kiss or a hug and having him walk away, again.
    That last is embarrassing but true ~ but maybe that will also change if I keep reading & refuse to give up on him! Thanks for supplying better things to think about tonite!

  • Marvy stuff, Patty. This is precisely why Tammy writes and I compose. No one is holding anyone back here. In fact, we encourage one another’s endeavors and share them. It’s fun, for crying out loud!
    Have a shiny one!

By Patty Newbold

Patty Newbold

I am a widow who got it right the second time. I have been sharing here since February 14, 2006 what I learned from that experience and from positive psychology, marriage research, and my training as a marriage educator.

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