The Five Regrets of The Divorced

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I have a group of divorced friends, and we get together twice a month. I’m trying to think of a clever name for our group since “Divorced Moms Club” sounds like…well…a bunch of divorced moms.

Beyond SAHM or WAHM, I’m drawn to DAAM (Divorced And A Mom). It reflects my mood since being part of this club was not part of my master plan.

I look forward to the time I share with these women. It’s one of the only places I feel like someone else truly understands what I’m going through. We talk about the reality of being on our own, the struggles of dealing with angry ex-spouses, the friends who don’t really get it, and even the nitty gritty details of what went on in our homes behind closed doors.

I can’t tell you how many times throughout the night we say, “You too?!” My DAAM club gives me strength in knowing that although our situations vary, I am not alone on this path. Through the shared laughter and tears and hugs, I always leave a little more hopeful about my future.

This is my second divorce and going into it, I thought I’d be a pro. I knew all the mistakes made during my first divorce and was determined to steer my second divorce in a much more civil direction. What I understand now is that when the other side is out for blood, it makes collaboration and mediation impossible. So while my first divorce was fairly textbook, divorce #2 has been a whole new world.

I’ve faced things from a Child Protective Services social worker sitting on my couch telling me that I needed to protect my kids or lose them to a move back home and in with my parents while figuring out how to be a mother, an adult, and a child under their roof. Admittedly, I’ve lost faith a few times along the way.

My therapy has always been in my writing and storytelling, so I am partnering with my divorce consultant friend, Storey Jones of Lemon Tree Advisors, to launch a community for divorced women called Divorcehood.

It is a place that combines practical and tactical legal assistance with the ability to share stories, compare notes, ask questions, and more than anything…make other DAAM friends.

We are building our neighborhood one heartbreak at a time, and it is our goal to give strength to women who are on the divorce journey by offering direction in navigating the day-to-day trenches of divorce.

As we’ve reached out and talked to divorced women across the country, we complied a list of what we’ve discovered as the Five Most Common Regrets of The Divorced.

1. Giving Up A Career
Many women face a choice when they have children: off-ramp your career and become a full-time mom or stay on the career highway. When the marriage works, no one thinks twice about putting a career on hold in order to stay home with children. When the marriage fails, the stay-at-home moms say the same thing: I should have never given up my career. For many women, driving back to the exit ramp to find their old career is proving to be more difficult than it sounds.

2. Not Being Financially Involved
With a wife working or not, a lot of households still follow a traditional division of labor with the husband serving as the CFO for the family and the wife doing everything else. When the marriage fails, many women realize they do not have a clue about any family financial accounts and do not even know how to begin to find passwords or account records.

3. Putting Up With Poor Treatment, Not Speaking Up
We asked women about how they felt they were treated in their marriage. We’ve heard stories about missed birthdays or anniversaries, expectations for clean houses, hot meals, and mannered kids, demands for sex, and requests for daily-ironed shirts. (I know, it’s 2012.) Many women agree that we put ourselves second for the benefit of the family…not as a martyr but with an eye on a greater goal. After a divorce, one common question always comes up: if I would have spoken up or expected more for myself during the marriage, I wonder if things would have turned out differently?

4. Staying For The Kids
This is a huge unanswered question for many married women and is repeated in younger generations asking about future marriages: when the relationship falls apart, do we stay for the kids? We talked to one woman who decided to stay with a bad marriage until her youngest son left for college. The month after her son left, she left her husband. The son dropped out of college a few months later as he had no clue about marriage problems between his parents. She told us her son isn’t speaking to either parent since he can’t figure out whom to trust or what part of his childhood he can believe in. She said she regrets not leaving earlier as she knew she was not going to continue to put up with her husband’s infidelities forever, however she didn’t anticipate her son would view her attempt to keep the family together as living a lie.

5. Marrying For The Wrong Reasons
The biggest reason for divorce continues to be…marriage. We need to do a better job about educating our children as to what marriage is and how it works. There are too many Hollywood movies and happily-ever-after fairly tales that make marriage look simple: fall in love, get married, have some kids, live a long and happy life together.

Successfully married women have given us these insights into their marriage: we are partners; we are building a family with common goals and dreams; we are friends; we work hard everyday at our relationship; we have each other’s backs; we have bad days, months, even years, but we are committed to our family more than our own individual needs.

Some divorced women have admitted to us that they married for financial stability, parental expectations, or even because they thought it was what they were supposed to do at the time.

They didn’t marry for love and friendship and understand how they set themselves up for failure.

Are you on the Divorce Journey? Where are you on the path? What regrets or insights can you share?

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