I’ve never considered myself to be an overly strong person. I have good qualities, but fortitude has never really one of them. The two experiences in my life that have shown me that I am stronger than I think am: childbirth and divorce. And when you think about it, those two processes have a lot of similarities.
Here are seven ways divorce is like childbirth.
1. Each birth and each divorce experience is unique.
Moms who have more than one child often say that their pregnancies were radically different. Just as each pregnancy is unique, the same is true for divorce. No one else was married to your soon to be ex in the same circumstances. Remember that fact when it comes to #2.
2. Everyone wants to share a frightening story with you.
Just like people want to share their childbirth horror stories and scare the bejeezus out of you, they will do the same with stories of divorce. And just like you had a few friends who gave you actually good, useful, encouraging advice about delivering a baby, a few friends will give you valuable pieces of info about what got them through the divorce. Keep the advice that works for you and disregard the tales of woe and misery.
Remember, a lot of the things you feared about childbirth never happened and there were surprises that you didn’t anticipate. The same is true of your experience with the courts and your former spouse. Even if it is well-meaning, ignore the unhelpful words.
3. It hurts—a lot.
Anyone who tells you it doesn’t hurt, referring to either childbirth or divorce, lies. Like a rug, I tell you. For women who’ve experienced birth, it goes without saying that pushing a baby out your vajayjay or having it cut out of your body gives a woman a new understanding of pain. I wish I could tell you that divorce won’t hurt, but I cannot. It is not a pleasant experience. There is a lot of emotional pain surrounding the end of a marriage.
4. It will eventually end, though you will want it to be over long before it actually is.
Despite some of the horror stories, the act of divorcing does not last forever. It will, however, go on longer than you’d wish. Toward the end of the two and a half hours it took to push my daughter out of my body, I remember saying, “Holy shit, I need this to be over.” There came a time when I said the same thing about my divorce. Eventually, it ended. There is a light at the end of the divorce tunnel, I promise.
5. Your memories of the pain will become a bit blurry.
I remember a lot of the birth of my daughter, but I can’t recall every detail like I did for the first few weeks and months following the blessed event. While I also remember the unpleasantness of my marriage that ended years ago, the details of the day-to-day disagreements are fuzzy. This is a good thing on both fronts.
6. Just like your life before kids, it seems odd to think about your life before the divorce.
They are both an end of one chapter of your life and the beginning of a new one.
A common refrain among new parents is that they have a hard time remembering their life before the arrival of their sweet baby. Similarly, over time, for many divorced individuals, it’s just plain weird to think of yourself as married to your ex. I see my ex several times a week now, years after our divorce was finalized, and the fact that I used to be married to him seems like something “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.”
7. You will have (and enjoy) sex again.
In the weeks after giving birth, most moms think they will never, ever have sex again, and they’re certain that they won’t want to do so. I had the same thoughts following my divorce. I had no interest in a new relationship, and frankly couldn’t have cared less if I was going to know a man in the biblical sense again. Thankfully, I was wrong. An old friend recently asked a group of ladies how long it was after childbirth before we had good sex again. I replied, “For me, it took seven years and a new husband.” I’m not saying you should rush back into the sexual arena, but keep hope alive that it will be a fun, fulfilling aspect of your life again.
For those going through divorce, I hope it over as quickly as you hope it will be, that it is as minimally painful as possible, and that in your new life post-divorce that you find happiness and fulfillment.
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