As kids, we all play mummies and daddies in our little make-believe world. Even as we get older, we all dream of that perfect life, a loving husband and beautiful children. It sadly is not quite how life works and sometimes the dream turns into a nightmare. For many the only way out of the nightmare is through divorce. It is a difficult situation and is complicated further if you have children.
But what about when it is you who wants the divorce and not your husband?
Now that can be a minefield and all out open war between couples. In most Asian/Arab communities, more often than not, you as the women will get the blame. If you complain about your husband’s behaviour then your told things will get better and he will grow out of it, as if they are some adolescent teenager.
You are expected to make the sacrifice and accept the unreasonable or abusive behaviour, which may have been going on for years. It’s a no-win situation because if it is early on in your marriage then people will tell you to wait and give it more time. If it’s after years of marriage then you’re told, ‘what’s the point? You have been with him so long, surely you must be used to his behaviour.’ Your own family may struggle with your decision and try to talk you out of it. Your husband’s family are likely to blame you for everything too, telling everyone that you’re the trouble maker or homewrecker.
The point is that it’s a difficult and emotional situation for not only you as the couple but all those around you too. Don’t forget, you would not only have shared a home, children, family but friends too. Therefore, a divorce affects every aspect of your life. So how do you get through it? Is there a guide or even a plan to follow? Like many things in life, there are no hard and set rules and what works for one doesn’t work for another but there are a few things that can help to ease and calm things.
‘Those who divorce aren’t necessarily the most unhappy, just those neatly able to believe their misery is caused by one other person.’ – Alain De Botton
For a start get your parents on board and explain your decision clearly. Don’t forget this will be a shock therefore everyone needs time to adjust. Together with them work out a plan and how you want to carry on with your life. Your parents and family are your best support system therefore if they offer help then accept it. You have so many hurdles that any help is a bonus.
Secondly, have open lines of communication with your husband. Ok that maybe harder said than done, especially when he doesn’t want the divorce but try your best anyway. It will be hard at the start. However, establishing a kind and respectful relationship will help you both move forward and be better for your children in the long run.
When you are with friends or family don’t vent about your husband and give a tell all account. It doesn’t help anyone and your husband will definitely hear about it. By doing this, it only aggravates things further. Sure, you can have a heart to heart with a close friend but avoid talking in public. At the end of the day, he is still the father of your children. Following on from that, if your husband’s family are being toxic about the situation then simply avoid them. Frankly you do not need the extra pressure and stress.
When you do have negotiations with your husband about the divorce arrangements then pick your battles. Little things may seem important when you are angry but be meaningless to you in a few months, therefore try to keep a clear perspective of the things that are really important to you. Even if your husband is reasonable and prepared to give you a divorce always seek legal advice. This will make sure everyone knows where they stand legally when it comes to finances and childcare arrangements. It really is the best way to avoid future conflict and misunderstandings.
At the end of the day, you are going through a major life change and therefore it’s really important to be kind to yourself. It is ok to feel sad and a little frightened of what maybe ahead. After all you have invested time and emotions into this marriage and it has not worked. You really need to give yourself time and space to move on and start your new life.
Finally, and as I said before, getting a divorce is never easy, especially for a woman. But don’t let community pressures and stigma stop you from leaving an unhappy marriage. It’s not an easy path to take but with Allah’s guidance and family support, you can move on and create the life you really want.