February 19, 2013

Acknowledging personal accountability after divorce

Many recently divorced individuals spend a significant amount of time trying to figure out precisely where their marriages went wrong. This is typically an important and constructive process, allowing one to pinpoint the causes of a divorce and use that knowledge to inform decisions in future relationships. However, many Michigan divorcees fail to recognize the roles they themselves played in the dissolution of their marriages, missing out on a beneficial learning opportunity in the process.

Some newly single people never take the time to think about their own accountability in regard to their divorces, arguing that their ex-spouses were entirely to blame. Even in cases where one’s partner was unfaithful or otherwise at fault, questioning how one could have done things differently is a worthwhile endeavor. For instance, maybe failing to prioritize a spouse’s feelings led him or her to feel lonely and reach out for affection from other people.

That said, exploring one’s personal accountability should not be about guilt, shame or self-blame; a spouse’s infidelity is in many cases an unforgivable transgression regardless of what may have prompted it, and one should never feel responsible for a marriage that ends because of such an act. However, thinking critically about every aspect of a divorce, including the role one’s own actions may have played in a spouse’s decision to cheat, helps open doors to self-discovery and improves one’s ability to learn from the often-difficult experiences associated with divorce.

In fact, this process can be particularly difficult for those who were responsible and loving partners but experienced divorce anyway. These individuals are forced to answer questions about their lives that are potentially less obvious and more difficult. What did their spouses do to damage the marital relationship? Why did they remain devoted to spouses that may have been inadequate? Why did they not pursue divorce sooner?

Source: Huffington Post, “Accountability: Turn That Mirror Around And Look At Yourself!,” Monique Honaman, Feb. 12, 2013