Figuring out what to do next when your divorce comes as a complete surprise can be agonizing. But there is also the task of understanding why you've suddenly found yourself single. It's not easy to move ahead without coming to terms with what you left behind. But there may have been subtle hints things were on the edge of ending.
If your divorce came out of the blue, here are some insights to give you a clue:
1. The curse of "perfect"
All too often a spouse actually thinks her relationship was great when they get served those dreaded divorce papers. The idea of being in a "perfect" marriage, or one without problems worth working on, is dangerous. There is an element of denial that runs through a perfect marriage that suddenly ends in divorce. It could be the case that one spouse was putting on a false pretense and pretended everything was fine while plotting his escape. But it's more likely major issues were being denied or even flaunted as positive aspects of the union. Codependence is often mistaken for commitment, jealousy for passion, and control for care.
2. Deafening silence
Just because it's quiet doesn't mean all is well. Lack of communication is one of the top reasons marriages end. Along with money problems and affairs, surprisingly, the simple act of talking in an honest, respectful and supportive manner causes a lot of issues for couples. Then to add insult to injury these issues don't get discussed! But don't be fooled, simply not talking through your marriage problems doesn't scream red alert to most couples. In fact, like the curse of "perfect," if one spouse feels alienated and turns away from his partner instead of toward them a seemingly quiet and peaceful household could soon erupt into chaos and crumble.
3. Passive resistance
Divorcees can often look back on their so-called satisfied relationships and find instances of passive resistance. This means there was no active or aggressive stance of one spouse against another on any particular issue, but more of a cool indifference that doesn't allow progress. When she wants to talk, he insists he can't now but will have time soon. Then it never happens. When he wants to have his co-workers and boss over for a dinner party, she claims the family schedule is too busy and never pencils it in.
Passive resistance can easily be overlooked because when you're not hearing "no" you don't ever get to discuss why the things you want aren't happening.
4. Friendly fire
Friendship is an essential key to a great marriage. But it can also be a crippling crutch in a union that's lost its fire. Quick draw divorces are often triggered after spouses become roommates and loose the passion in their relationship. In the later years, some partners who respect and love each other find that comfort and peace is too good to give up. But somewhere along the way one or both may begin to miss the sparkle that brought them together in the first place. And they may find it impossible to reignite this deep desire with the one they picked, or even rediscover it in someone else.
Separation may make the heart grow fonder, but can also be a nifty exit strategy when someone is looking for some space from his relationship. What appears innocent enough, like taking a new job opportunity in another city or caring full-time for a sick or elderly family member, can be the beginning or end of the quiet slide out. Even choosing to work more hours, or pretending to, and spending more time with friends and less with family can be signs that married life wasn't sitting well with an ex-spouse.
Hindsight can be 20/20. If you look back on your marriage you may find these clues apply to your sudden separation. Things are not always what they seem. But you can reconcile the past and try to understand what went wrong so you can move on to a bright and secure future.