I did this right: during my marriage we had no children, incurred no debt, bought no property, inherited no big windfalls and started no businesses. With nothing to argue about or contest, my husband and I should be cleanly divorced in about four weeks and $1,300. I started the process with a divorce attorney yesterday, after moving into my own place last July. In the state of Illinois, after six months of living apart you can file for a no-fault divorce. "No-fault" means no one has to sue anyone for mental anguish or infidelity or anything like that.
How do I feel? I feel sad for all the good times that aren't coming back. I feel sad to have lost the cozy safety of being part of a couple. I feel sad because our marriage started out so well, but is already over. I feel sad because I really loved my husband and enjoyed our relationship very much.
But going ahead with the legal process feels right. Neither of us wants to reconcile and we're both content with our new, separate living situations. I've happily settled into my beautiful apartment where I alone am in charge of the room temperature, budget, shopping list and decor. I relish being free to determine my social calendar, bedtime, vacations and whether or not this household has any pets (not).
I couldn't make my marriage go any further and I'm at peace with that. I count many experiences in my life as failures, but marriage isn't one of them because I believe my husband and I are coming out of our marriage better than we went into it. We're different people from who we were when we exited the Cook County courthouse as husband and wife in 2008. I'm happier, more self-accepting, less angry and more hopeful than I've ever been about having a full and content life. Bob now has a dog, and he and that pit bull adore each other. They bring each other a lot of joy.
Here are examples of what I call marital failures: a joyless union full of resentment that drags on and on until someone dies; a lifelong relationship in which at least one person feels miserable and trapped; a marriage that ends in a divorce that's so vicious and nasty that it leaves everyone badly traumatized, especially the kids. That's failure.
Bob and I still talk on the phone all week long, make each other laugh and have dinner together sometimes. The marriage didn't last, but maybe our friendship will. Whether or not we stay in each other's lives, I'm calling this a successful marriage with a happy ending: we're not dragging our children through divorce court or spending tens of thousands of dollars on legal fees or feeling angry with each other. We're leaving the union better than when we went in and have gained a friend. We joined with love and now we're parting with love. That's the way to do it.