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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How do I move on from broken marriage?

    Related Topic
    I left my ex-husband 3 mths ago. He was unable to address his depression, which was bringing me down, & impacting on our family (a 4yo & 2yo).

    I have been so much happier. Dealing with the kids' reactions, still working to a small degree in the family business & spending a lot of time with friends & just with myself.

    The problem is I have met a guy who is very keen on me. Despite resisting, I find myself drawn to him. But I am so scared, & don't want to hurt my ex more, as EVERYTHING in his life is going wrong. I know in my head I deserve happiness & someone who treats me well, that I don't owe any more to my husband. But the thought of hurting him further makes me physically ill. And I don't want to hurt someone else - what if this guy falls for me & then I realise I am not in the right space to date? We have our first date on SAturday and I intend to be very honest about where I am at and he might be prepared to take the risk but I don't think I can stand hurting someone else.
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  • 1




    With a passion to see people move forward and break free from the barriers holding them back, Grant is a highly experienced counsellor with over … View Profile

    It's a tough thing leaving a marriage, especially when you have young children and it sounds like you are doing fairly well. There are a bunch of the common emotions that occur when people end relationships - fear, insecurity, loneliness, guilt, rejection and so forth which can leave people quite vulnerable. To quell these emotions it is tempting to jump into another relationship, you've probably heard of the ‘rebound-relationship’. From my experience with clients these sort of relationships are not generally a good idea because;

    • Growth - I've had a number of female clients who have grown a great deal after leaving their relationship. A year or two after they are completely different women and the guy they would be attracted to now is very different to the one they would have been attracted to several months after the relationship. This is often about identity - it is ok for you to be a single woman & mum - you don't need a man right now so it is worth taking your time to focus on and nurture yourself. Read some personal development books, do a TAFE course that interest you, pursue a hobby etc. Right now a new relationship may slow you down from becoming the women you are meant to be, give it time.
    • Settle In - it will take time for you to settle in to your new situation - physically, emotionally and practically, especially when you have kids. Diverting time, energy and other resources into a new relationship can hinder the settling process.
    • Vulnerable - after a disappointing relationship with your depressed ex I'm guessing you probably want to feel wanted, needed and desired as a woman, this makes you vulnerable in the sense that your focus will be on ‘feeling good’ in the relationship rather than the more practical aspects of the relationship. It is not uncommon for people to leave one relationship and enter into another with the same type of partner resulting in the same problems that occurred in the previous relationship. Some guys pick up on vulnerable women too which can create problems for you -  when you are emotionally vulnerable you often don't see the forrest for the trees.
    • Children - this is likely to be a confusing and unsettling time for your kids, bringing in a new man can add to that confusion at this stage and in your vulnerability could expose them to potential risk
    • Safety - I know your ex-husband shouldn't have any sway over you but lets be practical, you will continue to have a lifelong connection with him through your kids so you cannot ignore him. The key issue is YOUR safety - you mention you don't want to hurt him, do you think that in his pain he might retaliate towards you or your children? You need to be cautuious. Generally women  emotionally leave the relationship before men so while you are ready to move on he may not be and this is where he could cause you problems - a wounded ex can be dangerous so you are right to ‘tread carefully’. Go with your gut on this one, if you are concerned about his reaction act on it. This is a good enough reason for you to take it slow and let a bit of water flow under the bridge.
    I'm a big fan of people being in long-term committed relationships, there are so many mutual benefits but I also see the pain and damage when intimate relationships go wrong so it is worth taking your time. There is no urgency for you to jump into another relationship and figures would suggest that it is likely to cause more problems than it solves. My main concern is your safety and that of your kids and this is a good reason to ease off pursuing a new relationship.

    What I'd suggest is that rather than jumping into the intensity of a 1-to1 relationship, cast your net wider - socialise with groups of people, develop platonic friendships, this takes the pressure off, exposes you to different types of people and keeps you free. It also allows you to find out more about yourself and the sort of person you want to be. So hang out with your friends and make some new ones, enjoy being yourself and exploring new thngs and who knows what your future will bring.

    Stay safe and happy growing.

  • 1



    HealthShare Member

    Thanks Grant. 

    I certainly don't need or even particularly want a man in my life at this point in time but found myself in a situation where I met someone that I thought could have been too good to be true.  At the same time, I am reticent to give up my new lifestyle, and certainly would not even consider introducing someone to my kids for a very long time! I'm not concerned about safety with regards to my ex, just don't want to cause him unnecessary pain.

    As it is I did go out with the guy on Saturday and whilst he is a nice guy, there were no sparks and I am certainly not ready for a new relationship.  I think I needed to test the water to realise that that is where I am at, even if George Clooney asks me out (well …).

    Thanks for responding.

  • With a passion to see people move forward and break free from the barriers holding them back, Grant is a highly experienced counsellor with over … View Profile

    LOL, it's the George Clooney's you have to watch out for. I'd suggest that when you do meet a guy who takes a shine to you, rather than go on a ‘date’ which is all very intense, invite him to a more social context e.g, BBQ/movie/dinner with friends. This takes a lot of pressure off which means you are both more likely to relax. You can also get some feedback from your friends as well. Good luck and stay away from the Clooney's, nice guys but deep down they're ratbags - unless of course, you're the woman who will ‘change him’. 

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