Do you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back on the horse ASAP or do you spend time to regroup your feelings and invest your time in your family and friends? How soon is too soon before finding Mr Right instead of Mr Wrong and is what about the kids in all the emotional chaos?
We got to chat to some mums who have had to start over and every situation is different. What is right for some may not be right for others but what is a common factor in each situation is that kids had to be considered.
Jillian’s Story: Re-Married
One thing that I need to make clear from the outset is I tried. I tried very hard to make my first marriage work. I knew from the start that my marriage would be difficult but had no idea just how difficult it would become. While I was infatuated with and fascinated by my first husband who was twice my age and from another country, his selfishness was the defining feature of our relationship. I know now that he didnâ€™t love me. He made all the rules, he was the boss and even though I am an intelligent and charismatic person, I was reduced to a powerless shell who spent her time bending over backwards to please everyone, my husband, my children, parents, boss, friends, childrenâ€™s school communityâ€¦.. everyone.
As I matured I realised that there had to be more to life. I became concerned that my existence as a doormat was all I was ever going to experience. I was worried about the example that I was setting for my children. I would be horrified if my sons grew up thinking this was how they should treat their wives and terrified that my daughter would fall into the same relationship pattern that I was modelling.
I began to dread my husband coming home. With the children I felt I could be myself but when he walked in the door I shrank again to fit his expectations. I tried everything. I sought out time that I could spend just with my husband to try to re-establish a connection, I explained how I felt and what I needed. We went to counselling and it was during these sessions I realised I didnâ€™t want to fix this relationship. I had been too hurt for too long and I could no longer find anything positive that would make me want to stay.
As a mother I always have acted with my children at the centre of my thoughts. I realised I owed it to them to be the best mother that I could be. You cannot be your best self when you are suffering and unsupported. One Saturday morning, after two years of contemplating my future, I got up and packed my bags. My eighteen year relationship was over.
I have not had one moment of regret. I did not cry one tear over the loss of that relationship. I put that down to the fact that I had tried every option investigated every solution and realised that for me that relationship was not a viable way to spend my life. I would encourage every person considering divorce to try everything before they take action. Really try not just go through the paces. Try to rediscover why you married each other. Then if you really cannot see a way forward together, let them go. Have enough grace to give your partner an opportunity to find their best life too.
I have my best life. After leaving my marriage my friendship with a colleague blossomed into romance. We took it very slowly. We had been seeing each other for a few months before we introduced our children into the mix. Again my driving force in how all this was handled was the well being of my children.
There were difficult times especially when I was sorting out custody arrangements. It was very difficult to let go of the children when I had always been their only care giver. But we have made that work and as the children get older they have more power over where they spend their time.
Two years after my separation I married my best friend, the love of my life. We brought four children into our marriage and have now added to our family with a â€œteam babyâ€ who is adored by his older siblings. Our family is happy, fun, energetic and absolutely full of love. I didnâ€™t know it was possible for anyone to love me and now I have the most amazing husband who makes me feel special, adored and spectacular every day.
We had to jump over hurdles to get to be together. There was huge material loss but that being said, I would live in a cave if that was what it took to be in this relationship and have children as happy as mine. Relationship decisions should not be based on material well being but on the well being of your children and your soul.
Petra’s Story:Dating with long term partner
I grew up in a broken family and reared by a single mum who did the best job she could. Â We struggled financially, lived in a crappy neighbourhood and divorce in a small town was uncommon and great fodder for the town gossips. Â So I grew up without a constant father figure and carried around big chips on my shoulders.
One reoccurring theme from an early age was that I was never going to be like my Mum. I wasnâ€™t going to be a single mum or raise my kids alone. So when I realised my marriage was falling apart I would often lie awake at night thinking it is going to happen to me. This feeling of knowing I was in a marriage that had run its course was with me for years but every time I looked at my beautiful children I pushed the thought aside and carried on. To the outside world everyone but my closest circle of friends thought we had the perfect life with a huge home, great jobs, holidays and 2 healthy beautiful daughters but I was only just existing and so unhappy.
It took a terrible event where my ex-husband was bashed after a night out then further health problems that caused a huge divide between us but instead of trying to repair the marriage as I had so many times before I took the opportunity to end it and I had no energy left or the feeling to want to keep it. I still remember the day when I felt such clarity that I had to leave and from then on I was driven to succeed to create a new life for me and my children.
My divorce was very messy but I imagine most are and there are often no winners but lots of anguish, pain and heartache. There were days I thought I wouldnâ€™t get through but I did and the next day was a little better and I would focus on my next challenge. Â I believe you make your own luck so I never gave up on thinking it was going to get better.
I knew after I moved out of the family home into my own space and set up home that I had to focus my energies on making my children feel safe and secure and this would take time but I also knew one day I would also nee to rebuild my life and that I did want to be with someone again when the time was right. I found a great counsellor and I carried on seeing her long after the girls felt they no longer needed to talk about the family breakdown but I was still so raw and in need of repair. I had always exercised and this was my saviour and still is and I also discovered yoga which has been life changing as it has helped me forgive and also move on.
We are still together 6 years on and I adore him. He is an independent man who wants me but doesnâ€™t need me, his Mum and Dad are Â supportive and have welcomed me with open arms, our kids have met but we have no desire to move in and create the blended family, we enjoy our time together which means we still have our own homes and care for our kids, we both love the same things and I drag him to yoga with me. And he makes me laugh and laugh and laugh.
Kate’s Story- Single Mum
I fell pregnant after 9 months of marriageâ€“ much to his disappointment (he thought he would have more time to try to practice!) I found out he was having an affair with the 21 year old receptionist when I was 8 months pregnant and was devastated but knew I was about to have a baby and stupidly thought that he was struggling with the changes that were about to happen and gave him a second chance. We had a gorgeous baby girl (another disappointment for him as he wanted a boy). He was a good Â father and loved his daughter â€“ doing the fun stuff but not much of the hard yards. We went through the motions of family life with me working full time and he working on an off through the next five years. I fell pregnant with my second girl when the eldest was 4. Again I found that he was having an affair with another one of his colleagues soon after the second childâ€™s birth and from there it was roommates rather than husband and wife. I tolerated it and went about raising the girls. I guess by the time we separated Iâ€™d had enough of the way I was being treated and thought I may have deserved a little better than the bully I married.
At the time of the separation the girls were 8 and 4 years old. The eldest (who was very close to her dad ) struggled with the separation badly. I took her to counselling to help her deal with the separation and how it made her feel. She still says she hasnâ€™t told all of her friends (none of them come from a separated home). The youngest will say she misses her daddy and will get teary but they call him often and see him in the school holidays.
I would love to meet someone but I know now what I deserve and what my girls deserve. I see some families with husbands and fathers that step up to take the children and give the mothers time out â€“ this is such a foreign concept to me. Being a single mum is bloody hard but the alternative is much harder. One day I would like to meet someone however as you would expect finding the time is difficult and introducing a new partner to my girls will be a challenge, although they both are very keen for me to find a boyfriend and say it all the time.
I havenâ€™t found one yet and to be honest how the hell do you find one â€“ Tinder? RSVP ? Eharmony? I am hoping that someone from my past or a friend of a friend pops up â€“ is that lazy?