Hitting the fan

11 Nov

There are all kinds of reasons folk get married – it isn’t all about love – and all kinds of reasons that folk get divorced. Ultimately, in the latter the situation (almost) inevitably becomes fraught, tense and leads to all manner of stresses, anger and accusations.

Here in Northern Ireland divorce is only granted as a result of ‘blame’, and blame itself can lead to all kinds of additional stresses and tensions and anger. But unless your partner will admit to adultery, or you’ve been separated 5 years (2 years with their consent) your sole option is to apportion blame under unreasonable behaviour. And no matter how valid your reasons, there are few folk out there who will take it lying down. (Why can’t we be more like Australia where they insist on a no-fault divorce – that’s so much more civil).

I’m facing these stresses right now, following the demise of my marriage – the troughs of which have frequently found their way onto my various blogs and social networking sites. Right now, the excrement is whizzing its way through the fan as the wheels of law turn their slow path.

I don’t really want to go into the ins and outs of my own situation just now, as public discussion will probably be regarded as me being insensitive, or antagonistic, but I have publicly declared my having started the process for some time. But I do want to vent about the ridiculous system we have in this country.

You can, believe it or not, get married in NI with just two weeks notice at a civil registry office. And a fee of about £80. While the impatient impetuous lovers may think this is great, the consequences of a rash rushed job may be felt for many months and years later. Nobody will stop you to ask if you are doing the right thing, merely that you are legally able to enter into the marriage, and nobody will offer you counselling during the whole build up process.

The Catholic church, as I understand it, has something right when it comes to marriage – they insist on taking weeks and pre-marriage classes. And the longer you have to talk things through the better.

Disgustingly, while one can be married in a fortnight, Northern Irish law says you must be married a minimum of two years before you divorce. Particularly in an expedited marriage situation (and indeed my own), problems may arise much quicker than in a longer-term engagement, and one is then psychologically bound for a minimum period. Sure, this might allow negotiations and compromises to be made, and I’m sure saves many relationships. But in other instances it allows the problems to grow and fester and utterly ruin a situation.

I was threatened with divorce within weeks of my marriage as our problems overwhelmed us. And repeatedly over the next few months until I had the first of my mental breakdowns which took me out of work on long-term sick for the first time in my professional life. If the law permitted I probably would have walked sooner, and on reflection I should have. My email records, journal entries and text logs are full of unhappiness. There are those who witnessed me on the receiving end of allegations and spats which are without foundation and who know how low I actually reached. My breakdowns were inextricably linked to my marital state and were probably the surest sign  I had that all was not as it should be in my life. But I was living 25 miles away from family and friends, four miles from the nearest bus-stop, in a huge house we couldn’t afford to maintain long-term, struggling to keep my start-up business on track, and without independent mode of transport. I was isolated, and what time I had with my wife was not on the whole, good. As a result I stuck with the life that made me miserable, hoping that things would chance, but it couldn’t.

If the bad days outnumber the good, your relationship isn’t working. If more than 75% of the days are bad, not only is your marriage not working, it is positively unhealthy and should be abandoned immediately.

Of course, we also now enter the awful scenario where claims for maintenance etc. come into play, and it is this which can cause most upset. Those who are left often feel wronged. And those who make the decision to leave may also feel a sense of injustice. I’ve made no secret, I want nothing but a clean break and the chance to move on with my life without having to think about my domestic situation over the last three years. My failed marriage doesn’t define me, but it informs decisions I make in the future. It has shown me at my lowest, and I am ashamed of the depths to which I personally sunk. It has confirmed to me multiple truths about my nature and living with other people – I’m quite a selfish and solitary person on the whole, partners are welcome but at my choice of time. Partner’s children from other relationships bring acres of guilt, confusion and their own stresses.

I have also learned to trust my own judgement more, and my suspicions. And not to date exes. Exes are exes for a reason on the whole, and unless you split because of a practicality one should steer well clear.

I am sorry that my marriage failed. I’m sorry that I didn’t have the strength and courage to leave when I thought I should. But most of all I’m sorry I didn’t speak out when I ought.

I have no doubt that things will get worse before they get better, and that there will be things said about me which are not true. There is much anger all round. But I know that putting the relationship into the past and moving on with our lives is the only option left that has any validity. One shouldn’t be afraid to say ‘it doesn’t work’. One shouldn’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t love you’. And one shouldn’t have to lie in order to proceed with the end.

Bear with me in the coming weeks and months.


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