by Nicole Huffman Hollins | Featured Contributor
After separating from my ex-husband seven years ago, I often marveled at the number of people who were shocked and sorry. I once told a friend, “Don’t be sorry. I’m no.” When I first recognized this feeling, I thought it was wrong. I was raised to believe that all marriages were a good thing and you stick it out no matter the cost. Furthermore, the person who decides to leave is disloyal and weak. There was never an excuse to end a bad relationship. While the desire to encourage people to keep families intact is noble and needed, I learned by experience that promoting togetherness by any means necessary is not always the appropriate course of action.
It was not until my separation and subsequent divorce that I realized how blurred our view is when we are looking at a relationship from the outside. Not being a party to the union, we do not know what we are really witnessing. Without insider knowledge of what caused the split, our apologies may be unwarranted.
Three Reasons the Divorced Are Not Sorry
Freedom from an Abusive Relationship
Due to outside pressures by family, friends, the church, and society in general, abuse survivors have a difficult time leaving because of abuse. They will often stay to keep up appearances, to maintain their lifestyle, or to keep the kids in a two-parent home. Once a person is brave enough to move on from this type of environment, hearing an apology for the break-up may result in a negative emotion. They are likely more sorry for the abusive events than their decision protect themselves and/or their kids. Further, if the apologetic friend was privy to the abuse, the divorced person may not understand his or her expressions of sorrow.
Freedom from Unapologetic Betrayal
I have heard many people say that if your partner is neither a cheater nor an abuser, there is no legitimate reason to leave. For the recipient of the endless lies- betrayals- from an unapologetic partner, however, there is no difference. Just as the person who suffers abuse leaves to save herself, the person subjected to non-stop betrayal often leaves to save her sanity. In my situation, I was a stay-at-home mom who left to save myself from the hidden financial decisions that my ex felt he had right to make. These were his solo decisions that resulted in my personal financial devastation, my legal career being placed in jeopardy, and my ability to care for our son being tenuous if he were absent. I was not sorry for putting my safety and that of my child’s above my compulsion to put on a public facade.
Freedom from Ex’s Fraud
At its core, marriage is a contract. One of the most basic legal requirements for contracts is mutual consent. This means that both parties must have all of the relevant facts in order to mutually enter into the agreement. There is no real consent where a party was fraudulently induced to sign the contract based upon the misinformation of the other party. When this happens, the wronged party as the right to end the contract. Your divorced friend, family, member, or co-worker may have been the unfortunate victim of fraud that made the relationship unworkable. An example could be one of the persons in the relationship purposefully lied about a deal breaker before the marriage. For instance, one spouse wanted kids and the other did not. The couple does not have children and the party who wants them, but lied about it in order to proceed with the wedding plans, is resentful and takes out his frustrations on the other spouse. The other spouse is innocent and if she decides to leave, she may be sorry about the destruction the lies caused, but she may not be sorry to close this chapter in her book of life.
Separation and divorce can often be a terrible ordeal. Expressions of sorrow are what we have been trained to give during these times. One of the best things we can do for people, however, is to respect where they are, even if we do not understand it, and provide the support they tell us is needed. If you are going through a divorce or separation, it is okay to own your feelings. Whether you want to crawl into a hole or have a big newly single bash, be honest with yourself about your place in the process. Do not allow the opinions of others to make you feel sorry for your life choices. There is nothing wrong with feeling bad for our divorced loved one and there is nothing wrong with our divorced loved one being sorry the events occurred, but not sorry that it is over.
Attorney Nicole Huffman Hollins from Money Fit Kids Houston, Texas
Hi! I’m Nicole. My life’s purpose is to help children, women, and families bring align their faith, family, and finances so that they may live in freedom. Part of my mission is to help people recognize their worth, own who they are, and succeed in life by being true to self. I am the founder of Now With Nicole where I have had the opportunity to author self-help books The Girlfriend Code and Peaceful Pain as well as a regular columnist for Empower Magazine. I am also the creator and host of Now With Nicole Radio where I offer “Real Talk, for Real Women, on Faith, Family, and Finances.” In addition to my own show, I enjoy appearing as a guest on Internet and network radio shows.
As a former family law attorney, I spent countless hours with fighting couples. Trying to find a more productive way to help these fractured families, I decided that mediation was a better route. While working with women and couples, I found that communication about money was a huge sore spot. After years of helping couples master mindfulness in their marriage and money, I saw a pressing need to educate and empower financial literacy from an early age. As a result, Money Fit Kids was created to encourage children from an early age to align the core values of faith, family, and financial fitness.
I am lover of the written and spoken word. I hold a journalism degree and Juris Doctor from the University of Texas at Austin. I reside in Houston, Texas with my husband and son.