What Happened to my Happily Ever After?

I remember being in a bookstore with my significant other/divorcing dad/future husband/future ex-husband during our first weeks of courtship. As it was a new romance and we were completely in our own world, we could have been looking at travel guides planning our next trip, or perusing architecture books dreaming about the house we would one day build, or getting ahead of ourselves in wedding magazines. But instead, we were looking for books on divorce. Or more specifically:

  • How to divorce peacefully?
  • How to tell your kids you’re getting divorced?
  • What is a blended family?
  • Where does the step-parent’s role fit in?
  • What does it mean to live as a divorced and remarried person?

Of all of the books we found, and there were fewer than we expected, there was one common theme: we were doomed and the kids were doomed. The books claimed that the effects of divorce would carry on into our old age and the children’s adulthood.

And we thought, “Where do you go from here?”

Somewhat exasperated, we searched for answers in each other, convincing ourselves that we couldn’t feel this good in a new and hopeful relationship if we were simultaneously the cause for so much pain and disaster. But somehow that didn’t quite do the trick. So we went to therapists, psychiatrists, friends, workshops, and though there were some helpful messages to help us “deal” with the aftermath of divorce, we were still left feeling frustrated and frankly, angry, that in spite of our deepest heartfelt desire for everyone’s lives to be bettered by the decisions we were making (after all we said, being happy together would certainly be better for everyone than remaining unhappy in our previous relationships), everyone around us was insisting that only negative things could come from our decisions.

So we did the only thing left to do.

We turned to ourselves and started exploring and writing about our experiences and set forth to make a plan. We wrote about the lives we had lead until then, the choices we had made, knowing that the future was uncertain even if we learn from the past. We envisioned a future for our new “blended” family, created mission statements, made plans. We talked to the children’s biological mom doing our best to include her in our thought process, knowing we were all on a new journey without a map. And we took it one day at a time. Making mistakes, making up for mistakes. We believed what we said and did our best to live our word.

Yet despite our best efforts, this story didn’t have the fairytale ending. The relationship ended up in divorce. The children, now 3 girls, were separated to different homes. My now ex-spouse and I moved to different countries, faced with even more significant parenting challenges. And yet, would I live it again? Yes. Do I regret being married? No. Do I live every day to create an environment and a context within which my daughter and step-children can make more conscious choices and hopefully avoid some of the mishaps and suffering I experienced? Absolutely.

The moral of the story?

  • Live consciously with the awareness that nothing is set in stone, but rather, every action and event in our lives is there to teach us something.
  • Marriage papers do not guarantee you a successful marriage.
  • And most of all, divorce doesn’t have to be the unhappy ending the not-so-fairytale books have predicted it to be.

You can write your own happy ending…and so I have….


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