Taking Responsibility For My Part In Our Failed Marriage

It's so easy to point a finger at your soon-to-be ex and make a list of all the things they did that contributed to the downfall of your marriage.
08/27/2012 01:46am ET | Updated October 26, 2012
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It's so easy to point a finger at your soon-to-be ex and make a list of all the things they did that contributed to the downfall of your marriage.

There are three parts to every story story: his story, her story and the truth. The reality is that both parties contribute to a downfall of the marriage. One party just doesn't suddenly wake up one day and declare it's "Divorce Day." There are always events or emotions that lead up to a break-up.

It's important to take a look at your part in the events leading up to the divorce decision. Don't look in your ex's backyard of issues; look in your own backyard. This is difficult because it's easier to put blame squarely on someone else's shoulders, rather than taking an honest look at ourselves.

My marriage fell apart once I got sober. It was easy for me to point to my addiction and say, "if you had to deal with what I had to deal with, you would drink too!" But I was wrong. And in the beginning of my divorce process, it was easy for me just to sweep my own issues under the umbrella of addiction. It's true that for me, addiction and divorce were intertwined. But for me to just to blame my divorce on my coping mechanism was not right. Nor was it right to blame my behavior on my ex.

You must take responsibility for your own actions for two reasons. The first is to get closure on your marriage and divorce. Not owning up to your part puts you in the victim role. Closure on your divorce and marriage is freedom. Do you know anyone who complains about the injustices done to them by their ex during their marriage despite being divorced over a year? They aren't very free are they?

The second reason is baggage. If you don't take responsibility for your part of the split, then what makes you think it won't happen again? If you don't learn and grow from your experience, you will carry the same baggage into your next relationship. In my opinion, this is the number one reason second marriages tend to fail at higher rates than first marriages. People don't spend the time learning and growing; they are too busy pointing fingers.

I came to understand that in my marriage, I didn't communicate well. I also didn't want to deal with tough decisions in my personal life. I would avoid making decisions. And if a decision was made on my behalf by my husband, I would revert to passive-aggressive behavior patterns that fanned the flames of our marital issues.

So, what do you do once you've gotten to a point of understanding and accepting your part? What I did was apologize to my ex one day when he was dropping off our daughter after a visit. He was surprised to hear me apologize for specific behaviors, and never did I mention anything about his behavior. I can say that I truly regretted the way I behaved; it was wrong.

What I wasn't expecting was that this brief conversation laid down a new foundation for our post-divorce life, centered around our daughter. Today, we have mutual respect for each other and a great love for our daughter.

Now that is freedom!

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