The Divorce Diaries: ‘It got so toxic, so fast, it was like my wife was a whole different person’

From the team of Capsule

Kimberlee Sweeney, divorce coach and CEO of Degrees of Separation, says so many who seek her advice have the big question of should I stay or should I go, and it’s never a light decision. ; in fact, she estimates that most of them wondered about it for at least two years before making the move.

This was exactly the case for Jeremy, who had been in a relationship with his wife Madeleine for 18 years.

The couple had met young and had two children together, but over the past three years they were all too aware that the relationship had broken down.

“Every time I tried to talk to my wife at the time about it, it was really difficult because she would change the focus of the conversation, and we would end up talking about the issues she was having with me at the time. square.”

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When they finally had the big talk, Jeremy was surprised at how surprised his wife was.  despite the many times he had tried to bring up the conversation over the years.  (file photo)

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When they finally had the big talk, Jeremy was surprised at how surprised his wife was. despite the many times he had tried to bring up the conversation over the years. (file photo)

When they finally had the big talk, he was surprised at how surprised his wife was; despite the many times he had tried to bring up the conversation over the years.

“I felt increasingly unwelcome at home and after three years of trying to talk about it, I had had enough,” he says.

“She said she thought I was pretty happy that we were living the way we were, and then she told me how screwed she would be, financially, if I left. And that’s when I realized that there was nothing more there, it was over.

Jeremy was very aware of the financial situation and had consulted a financial adviser in order to come up with a plan that was as simple and friendly as possible; he had also hired a lawyer specializing in collaborative settlements.

He also wanted to make sure that custody of the children was divided as evenly as possible, so that he and Madeline had equal responsibilities. But things got toxic, fast.

First, Madeline hired a lawyer who was “essentially a shark”, says Jeremy, and whatever financial solutions Jeremy presented were never good enough.

Afif Kusuma/Unsplash

“It got so toxic, so fast, it felt like my ex was a different person, someone I’d never met before,” Jeremy says. (file photo)

His language has become increasingly abusive and manipulative, he says. Custody negotiations got off to a good start, with Jeremy seeing the children three days a week.

But after a conversation about school holidays derailed into abusive language from Madeline, Jeremy sought the help of a mediator to help them with their communication.

Madeleine declined to attend, but Jeremy received good advice, which then matched what he had been told by divorce coach Kimberlee, with whom at this point he had just started working.

Having a middle person when it came to communication was invaluable, Jeremy says – at first he sent all his emails to his ex through Kimberlee, to make sure they were as straightforward as possible.

In an ideal world, Jeremy and Madeleine would have reached a friendly level of communication by now, but as anyone who’s been there will tell you, divorce is rarely an ideal world.

For example, Jeremy dryly says that the last text message he received from Madeleine caused him to refer to him as a…

But he said what was helpful was that early in his work with Kimberlee, she understood that a peaceful resolution was unlikely, so it was more about working through her own reactions.

“She understood early on that it wasn’t about changing the situation, it was about giving me the means to deal with it,” he says.

“I was already reasonably ok with not climbing, I was really trying not to do the same thing again. But Kimberlee helped me find a structure and a way to communicate where — and it took a long time — I could write the same emails without needing to send them to her first.

Having good plans in place — especially with parenting — and sticking to those structures has been key, Jeremy says, in reducing the chances of conflict.

“Every time I had to communicate at first, I would have a huge physical stress reaction – almost like PTSD, and I would become almost paralyzed from it,” he says.

“I just didn’t know what to do. But the help Kimberlee gave me got me to the point where that doesn’t happen as much anymore.

The nature of divorce is that it's a process where people's feelings can't help but be hurt, Jeremy says, and hurt people rarely make rational decisions.

Kirk Hargreaves / Stuff

The nature of divorce is that it’s a process where people’s feelings can’t help but be hurt, Jeremy says, and hurt people rarely make rational decisions.

This can be difficult for the male partner in a heterosexual separation, because while women are more natural to curl up around their friends, this is not always the case for men and their male friends.

Jeremy said he was well supported because he also had a close friend going through a divorce, but he says that’s another reason why having a divorce coach to upload to is so important.

“There’s a sense of validation that comes with having a third person help you understand what you’re going through, which I don’t think I would have gotten from my friends,” he says.

Jeremy also began seeing a therapist at this time, which he says was also invaluable in coping with the brutal aftermath of his divorce.

“It got so toxic, so fast, it felt like my ex was a different person, someone I’d never met before,” he says.

“The person I was married to is not the person I was dealing with at the time. The person in my memory has almost become fiction to me.

“I have no illusions that I was a perfect partner, I know a marriage doesn’t fall apart because one person af…..something; that’s not how it works. And especially in a case like ours, when it was a breakdown over a long period.

Although he had actively debated whether they should go their separate ways over the past three years of their relationship, Jeremy says if he’s being honest with himself, it was clear they’d been unhealthy with each other. for each other for at least 10 years of their relationship.

“I can think back to the thoughts I had then about ‘how could I handle the separation from her? “How could I end up managing the financial situation so as not to lose everything? he said.

“And to be honest, in the end the only way was for me to give up. I wouldn’t say I lost everything, but I lost a lot.

For people in his previous position who are wondering if they should end a relationship, Jeremy says it’s important to try to keep things as friendly as possible and the people you hire can make a huge difference. in this regard.

“It’s only because of the advice of people like Kimberlee and like the lawyers I’ve chosen, who have a collaborative spirit…I think it’s really important to surround yourself with people who won’t give back. the process more destructive and adversarial than it needs to be,” he says.

“Having someone who can be an unbiased voice of reason is really important. The first piece of advice shouldn’t be to take a course on parental separation, but rather to find yourself a divorce coach. And preferably someone who can work with both parties.

The nature of divorce is that it’s a process where people’s feelings can’t help but be hurt, Jeremy says, and hurt people rarely make rational decisions.

“If you go too far down this path of acrimony, you end up not being able to talk to each other and that hurts the ability to co-parent and really be there for your kids. That’s really what I regret. My kids are doing great – they did amazingly well, but they did amazingly well in spite of us, and that’s what’s really tragic.

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