I recently read a thoughtful essay in the New York Times, authored by Lara Bazelon, entitled “Divorce Can Be an Act of Radical Self-Love.”
Ms. Bazelon’s observations of her own divorce remind me of what I hear from spouses who come to divorce mediation all the time, that they still feel connected (or even still love) their soon to be ex-partner. Yet, in their mind, the marriage is not working, as self-reflection uncovers a lack of happiness and fulfillment.
The author summarizes a re-evaluation of her own priorities in the following words, “I divorced my husband not because I didn’t love him. I divorced him because I loved myself even more.”
“Divorce is painful and heartbreaking. But it can also be liberating, pointing the way toward a different life that leaves everyone better off, including the children.”
The process of divorce, whether through a mediator, attorney or judge, is the building of a bridge from the present to the future. Another observation from Bazelon rings true from my experience working with divorcing couples: “Divorce is painful and heartbreaking. But it can also be liberating, pointing the way toward a different life that leaves everyone better off, including the children.”
While the author of these words did not disclose the process she and her partner used to end their marriage, it would seem reasonable to conclude that they took steps to end the marriage with dignity and respect, to preserve all that was good about their relationship, and channel that positive energy toward co-parenting their children and maintaining a strong personal connection to each other.
It is typical and understandable for a spouse who has taken the lead to end the marriage to do so in order to advance personal interests. However, as couples transition through divorce, it’s important to recognize that a truly successful outcome requires understanding both one’s own interests and also those of the other spouse and the children.
Mediation offers the best chance for self-love to be balanced with the reality that one person is not making all the decisions, even if one spouse is the first one looking to construct a personal bridge into the future. That bridge needs to be wide enough to carry the whole family safely across.
The article by Lara Bazelon cited above appeared in the New York Times on September 20, 2021. You may need an account with NYT to access the article; here is the link.