LIFESTYLE

A Good Marriage Takes Work, But So Does A Good Divorce

16/05/2017 08:16 SAST | Updated 16/05/2017 08:16 SAST
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It would be easy to look back at the circumstances, or our age, or our lack of life experience and blame those reasons for writing a regretful letter; but the fact of the matter is that we don't regret anything.

Yes, we are getting a divorce, and we understand that some of you will never understand, or never agree with our decision, but together we stand by this accord, and we look back with grateful hearts, understanding that having had this experience, we are better people.

This was not a decision that was made hastily nor lightly. It was only a few short months into our five-plus year marriage that we discussed the idea that we might not thrive as a married couple. Six months into our marriage, we we're told by our first marriage counselor had we just made the split then that "we'd both be just fine in time." Ironically, we stayed married, and though five years later the end result (divorce) might sound the same, we're grateful that we stayed together in a marriage for five more years. We gave it everything we could, and we needed that at the time, because nearly everything we are indebted to today, came as a result of that.

Last year we stopped comparing the gap between what we wanted from marriage versus the compatibility of our friends' and families' expectations. Letting go of the pressures of marriage and discovering true transparency, accountability, and vulnerability has brought both of us peace and added more love to our lives. It was when we were able to be truly authentic with ourselves that we decided we would get a divorce. We moved into separate rooms, but unlike our engagement, there was no rush to get the logistics in order. After all, we've always been amazing as friends, and we intend to keep it that way. The pressures of having a good marriage makes having an authentic one a real struggle. We we're always better companions than we were a "couple," and it's been amazing to see the transformation that each of us have made through the love and support of a friendship that few may understand.

Letting go of the pressures of marriage and discovering true transparency, accountability, and vulnerability has brought both of us peace and added more love to our lives.

Yes, divorce is a taboo term for many, and it takes real work to hold the nuances in your head, to remember why you married in the first place and still push forward to separate. We have worked hard on "us," both in and outside of marriage, and while we both prefer to look forward in life, when we do reflect on the better part of the last decade, we're only able to see the good that came from a marriage that we consider a success that has run its term.

This is not the ending to our relationship, in fact in that past 11 months, since we decided to get a divorce, we've both experienced the most rewarding and appreciative time in our relationship. Of course, this isn't what we intended when we began our marriage, but this is where we are at today, it's where we've been for quite some time. We've both come to the conclusion that we are amazing companions. It is with a deep love and an immense amount of respect for each other that we have decided that we are just two people, who love each other, but who can't provide the type of love that we both deserve in a marriage. We don't feel the need to explain or defend our decision beyond that.

Two Years Into Our Marriage, The Smiles Weren't Fake, But In A Way, We Could Always See The Writing on The Wall.

Community has been the most rewarding part of our lives since we became a couple; family and friends have taken on a whole new meaning to us both. And that's why we are writing this letter together. A lot of you already know that we had made this decision, and for others, the pressures of talking about our situation we're a little more delicate. We did the best we could in using our community to be authentic and transparent about the status of our relationship, but to those that are finding out today, this was the time we needed to take to tell you.

Whatever the case may be, we're writing this letter to our community, to address how we would like to be treated moving forward. Our lives will forever be entangled, we share family and friends, and we don't want that to change. We have nothing but love for each other, and the same goes for our community that we share. We ask, that you give us the same love and respect, we want to remain a part of each others family and friends, the same people we've done life with since being together.

Are we too idealistic? We don't think so. We understand that this is a unique arrangement, and that most divorces don't happen under such circumstances. To use the word "amicable" to describe this split would be an insult to us, this is more than a mutual agreement, 11 months after making this decision, we still view each other as best friends.

There are people that will insist it will get harder, that we're still in the "denial" stage of our separation. Certainly other partners and new priorities will complicate things. Still, we remain committed to our ideal divorce. Those that know us, know that we've overcome staggering odds in many aspects of our lives, and we've been able to do that with the love and encouragement of each other, that won't change.

Thank you to all of you for all the ways that you loved us individually and as a married couple. Thank you for the ways that you supported us and cheered us on as we pursued our dreams and built our careers. Just as we couldn't have accomplished these things without each other, we could not have done any of it without our community either.

We know that it's ultimately up to each of you on how you decide to process this news, and how you choose to move forward, but we also ask that you love and trust each of us individually and respect that we know what is best for us.

We have no regrets, we've always enjoyed each other's company. Why should that change?

Our Final Letters to Each Other In Regards To Our Marriage That Was:

From Amanda to Matt:

I am a better person for having spent the past 5+ years married to you. So with only love in my heart, I look back at these years since our wedding day and say that I am thankful for the good times, for the hard times, for the laughter and the tears. I would not change a single day. I would not take back one conversation or change how we have handled our differences. Our marriage has helped to shape me into the woman I am today. Since the beginning of our relationship, you have always challenged me to see and be my strongest self, and for that I will always be grateful.

We have faced many challenges and stressors during our time together, some that seemed too big and some that I felt completely unprepared and inadequate to handle. Yet, through it all, we thrived. Your strength always gave me hope that although life can be unbearable at times, we are resilient, and whatever challenge life threw our way, I had no doubt that we would not only survive, but that we would grow and become better versions of ourselves because of it. It is safe to say that over the better part of the last decade, I have been stretched way beyond my level of comfort, and you have shown me that it is within this space in which I am most alive.

I always tell people that you are the most generous and smartest people I have ever met. It has been an honor to be a recipient of both of those gifts. I have no doubt that you will be successful in whatever endeavor you chase after. I am in awe of your creativity and transparency. Perhaps one of my favorite things about you and my initial attraction to you was your willingness to share your story and show your most authentic self to the world. I am grateful to have witnessed and been invited to share in your most personal moments. Thank you for sharing your life with me, thank you for you honesty, and thank you for trusting that I was a strong enough to walk along side you.

Our years have been good. Together we have laughed, grown, challenged each other, celebrated, cried, and experienced loss, and for all of this I am grateful. I am certain that we will have many more memories together as friends. Thank you for all of the ways that you have been my cheerleader. You have been my biggest supporter as I pursued my career. It is because of this marriage that I am strong and ambitious and independent. Thank you for always reminding me that I am all of those things, even when I lost faith in myself. I love you Matt. I have nothing but the deepest respect for you and the man that you have become. It is through our marriage and ultimately our divorce that I have learned how to best care for myself.

From Matt to Amanda:

I have no doubt that you came into my life as a result of some sort of divine intervention. I'm still not sure why you chose to give me a chance during a time in my life that otherwise lacked purpose, but it was with you that i've learned to live life as a (semi) responsible adult. You taught me that there was life worth pursing, even in the midst of the storm when we met.

While I know that this is the right thing for both of us to do in our life, i've been scared ever since we made this decision. Ironically, you are the one that has helped temper my fear of embracing what life will look like without you as a wife. We began as amazing friends, and i'm beyond grateful that we still get to be that.

You are too easy to love, your personality, your charm, it's contagious. I've never seen you more happy in your life than you have been over the past year, and I can't wait to see where that takes you. I will always be there to support you and continue to watch in amazement. I know that you will get everything out of life that you continue to put your mind too. Words can't describe how proud I am of everything you have accomplished in the 7 years i've known you, I do and will continue to brag about you to everyone I know.

Finally, just know that I would do this all over again, and i wouldn't change a single decision looking back. I know that you share similar feelings moving forward: sadness, fear of change, judgement from others. But you are revered by so many people, myself included. If you dwell on anything, remember to dwell on the love and gratitude that you share with so many people in life, including me.

We understand that this may seem like a strange way for us to announce this to everyone, but again, this is how we wanted to let people know. We'd much rather chose to share are feelings with everyone, opposed to making calls and visits to everyone in our contact lists. We both feel that writing is a more efficient medium for expressing our feelings, and just maybe this will help others to think before they judge. We know that we've had a lot more time to process through this than some of you reading this for the first time, but neither of us want a flurry of calls seeing how we are doing. We still have each other for that, we still have an amazing community for that, and for those of you that we haven't spoke with, it will happen organically, in time. We are both extremely protective of one another, and that's how it'll remain.

Finally, a quote from Cheryl Strayed that we've both been able to relate to over the past 11 months:

"One ends a romantic relationship while remaining a compassionate friend by being kind above all else. By explaining one's decision to leave the relationship with love and respect and emotional transparency. By being honest without being brutal. By expressing gratitude for what was given. By taking responsibility for mistakes and attempting to make amends. By acknowledging that's ones decision has caused another human being to suffer. By suffering because of that. By having the guts to stand by one's partner even while one is leaving. By talking it all the way through and by listening. By honoring what once was. By bearing witness to the undoing and salvaging what one can. By being a friend, even if actual friendship is not possible. By having good manners. By considering how one might feel if the tables were turned. By going out of one's way to minimize hurt and humiliation. By trusting that the most compassionate thing of all is to release those we don't love hard enough or true enough or big enough or right. By believing we are all worthy of hard, true, big, right love. By remembering while letting go." Brave Enough, Cheryl Strayed

Love Always,

Amanda and Matt.

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