I guess we all know that men and women tend to come at divorce from slightly different angles. But what about the difference between the instigator (Divorcer) and the person being divorced (Divorcee)?
Men are often focused on the bottom line and will negotiate for the best deal they can get. Their approach whilst being as emotionally charged as a woman's is often more pragmatic and realistic. Women, however, often view the inevitable dividing up of the assets in a divorce as an indication of their worth, as a person, to their husband or partner.
What is not so often discussed is the tremendous difference between the way the divorce feels for the one who say "I want a divorce" and the one who hears those words with a sickening dread or maybe even a sigh of relief. Here are some thoughts on those differences and how to understand your partner's perspective on the whole divorce process.
The Divorcer's perspective
Getting used to the idea
The fundamental difference here is that the Divorcer has had time to acclimatise to the whole concept of getting divorced. He or she will be some way down the emotional road to understanding and accepting the trauma of a divorce.
Rejection always hurts
Rejection is always a hurtful experience even when you are doing the rejecting. It is the last possible ‘solution' to a failing relationship and marks a point from which there is no return. Once you have said the words they cannot be unsaid.
The change will be total
Whilst the Divorcer announces the impending and fundamental change it can often feel to him or her that life will be pretty much the same apart from the absence of their partner. This is never true. Just because you wanted it to happen will in no way minimise the effect it will have upon every aspect of your life. So be prepared!
The loss will always be there
Even if you are the Divorcer the feelings of loss are inevitable. Those who are already seeing another person need to realise that the termination of one relationship and the simultaneous establishment of another is a bit like jumping from one moving train on to another going in the opposite direction.
The Divorcee's perspective
Getting used to the idea
Understanding that the Divorcer has already spent time coming to terms with the idea of divorce is very helpful. It puts in context the realisation that he or she is a bit more calm and together whilst you are running around falling into bits. The divorce comes as no surprise to them.
The loss is greater because it's unexpected
The sense of loss experienced by the Divorcee is probably more dramatic because it was unexpected. These intense feelings of rejection are one of the abiding emotions of a divorce. Despite the fact that your partner is divorcing you he or she will experience the same emotions and may well have been agonising over the divorce for months or even years.
Focus on yourself and your needs
Don't get involved in imagining what your soon to be ex is doing, what she's saying and to whom or who he's with. Mostly what you imagine will be wrong and can lead to feelings of victimisation and even depression. You don't need any of that. Think of yourself and your needs to get through this.
This is probably the time you need to look for some help from a support group like the Divorce Support Group. It works for both men and women and can be a tremendous help in difficult times.
Keeping the kids' wellbeing central to your divorce strategy
If you are still living with your children try to keep their wellbeing as the first priority. The children don't really care who divorced whom. Parental blame is not something they want to know about. Keep them away from that and encourage frequent contact with their other parent. Speak as kindly as you can about their mother/father.
Understanding each other's perspective in the divorce process is hard enough given that it requires a certain empathy which will probably have evaporated in the pre divorce tensions of a failing relationship. It's difficult to do but it will help both of you if you can manage it.