Alex and I have something personal to share…
After 13 1/2 years of marriage, we have decided to separate. Of course, we will always be over-the-moon co-parents to our two beautiful boys, but we won’t be married anymore.
We are feeling good and confident about this decision, which of course we made with difficulty and care. I’ll always love Alex (a funny, insightful person; father of my children!), but we felt like we were on increasingly different wavelengths when it came to parenting, life, and philosophies, and though we tried mightily we couldn’t bridge the gap.
I’m not sure if this seems like a surprise to you or not — some readers have sent messages and emails noting that Alex hadn’t been mentioned lately and wondering if everything was okay. In real life, people’s reactions have been varied – gasps, chest-clutching, and one supportive neighborhood dad putting his arms out straight in front of him like a robot and repeating “processing processing processing.” Friends have brought us soup and given bear hugs and texted “how are you doing” every morning like clockwork. I like when people ask, “Should I say sorry or congratulations?” because that question acknowledges that both things can be true.
During tough times, kind gestures mean so much, don’t you think? My heart burst when three different friends invited me over for Christmas Day (while the boys celebrated with Alex’s family in Atlanta). And when our babysitter stacked toilet paper rolls in our bathrooms to help out a little extra, I felt so taken care of that I wept! Fat tears! Over toilet paper!
Some stages have been grindingly hard and emotional — I mean, it’s a LOT — but thankfully, our relationship overall has remained thoughtful and kind. It’s funny, I truly feel like our marriage was in many ways a success, even though it’s ending. We had 10 amazing years together (with regular old ups and downs), and have you seen the two miracle people we made from scratch?!! The past three years grew more and more difficult (with couples therapy; arguments; distance; the pandemic; feeling like we were speaking different languages); and it felt like a necessary time for a new life chapter.
The boys are doing really well. If they had magic wands, I imagine they would wave Daddy back home, but also the house had become tense and they could tell. Our two separate homes are now calm and joyful and relaxed. The other day, Anton told me, “I feel so confident at Daddy’s apartment. I walk in, I grab a 7-Up from the fridge, we do Mad Libs, and then we watch a movie.” How sweet is that? I love that both places have their own rituals and delights and cozinesses, and both feel like home.
And, I remind myself, life is never 100% easy. Kids will navigate hard things – illness, social stress, loss, divorce, moves, disappointments, upset, heartbreak, etc. Life is not a perfectly smooth road. A therapist once told me, “Kids can handle really tough stuff, as long as they know they have someone in it with them.” We are here to support them, and they know they are deeply, deeply loved.
What helps as an adult? Walks. Therapy. Friends. British TV. This Cup of Jo community. And the realization that two happy houses are better than one unhappy house. I am a child of divorced parents, and my sister and I recently talked about how our predominant emotion when they got divorced was… relief. The transition was hard, of course, and I didn’t love that my dad had to move two towns away and couldn’t wake me up every morning for school like he used to, but even at age 12, I knew we would all be better off in two homes. And we were.
For anyone who is going through something similar, this quote from my friend Tina helped: “Getting divorced sucks, but being divorced can be great.” She told me about her very loving (yes, loving!) co-parenting relationship with her ex-husband. Also, the Gloria newsletter was helpful to read, as was this NYTimes op-ed.
And, finally, this poem rang true. We had so many great times. We made babies. We laughed. We rooted for each other; we still do. Our marriage is ending, but it also flew.
Thank you, as always, for reading. xoxo
Update: New York Magazine interviewed me about our marriage ending and asked really thoughtful questions (will you move? are you dating?). Read the full interview here, if you’d like.
P.S. On happiness vs. wholeness, and home as a haven.
(Photo by Sophia Hsin/Stocksy.)