April 07, 2017
Survive Divorce Like Gwyneth
After separating from her husband five years ago, advertising veteran Tara Averill founded Splitsville (whose tagline is: "It's Over. You're Not".) a community-centered website that provides emotional, spiritual and practical resource tools for surviving the painful transition. "My mission was to create relatable content that shows all aspects of divorce, not just the negative ones," she says. "After my split, I found myself being in this weird demographic of a 20-something single woman in a 40-year-old body and being a committed mother. It was weird to have all this freedom to go out and to travel, to meet new people, to date, while also being very dedicated to my home life." The result is a well-designed platform of editorial stories on what to do with your kids on weekends, on how to decorate a new home, and how to date after a marriage, and more. There's also access to community chats, which Averill says can be helpful for people who might have exhausted their friends and family. Plus, all user profiles are anonymous. Below she weighs in on five ways to deal with divorce while remaining grateful and grounded throughout.
Don’t Think Of It As Bad
"I wasn’t trying to make divorce a good thing, I just wanted to make it understood as a thing that is multifaceted. While it’s painful, it also can be unbelievably necessary. It’s like childbirth: childbirth is very painful — nothing is more painful, but you end up with a beautiful baby. I started Splitsville because I was fascinated that I was a liberal Brooklyn parent living in a very liberal culture, finding that people’s attitude about divorce were incredibly negative and archaic and rooted in the bad divorces of our parents in the seventies and eighties. I was really surprised that a new paradigm for postmarital life hadn’t been created."
Be Honest With Your Kids
"My children were 3 and 5 years old. That was the most painful part of it. I wanted my kids to have the best life possible, and I was really scared that divorce meant that wasn’t possible. A lot of times we try to keep marriages together that aren’t working in an effort to not hurt our kids. The problem is that there is no way for divorce to not impact children negatively. What you can do is be as honest as possible. Not about the ins and outs necessarily, but I know that a lot of kids who have gone through their parents divorce knew it was happening, but their parents were trying to pretend that everything was fine. I talked to so many people whose parents waited until they got to college to split up, and they had resentment towards that because they felt like they were living a lie and they didn’t get to see their parents happy. Once their parents announced they were divorcing, many of them say the tension in their home immediately dissipated.
Let Go of Guilt + Shame
"I do still struggle with the idea that it was selfish of me to want to try out different types of relationships after being married and having kids. That’s basically what happened. It wasn’t like I left for anyone else. I felt really stunted in my growth around relationships, I hadn't been able to have many relationships before I settled down with one person. I was emotionally immature when I met my husband and it was clear to me that I needed to try being a grownup in the world an learn how to navigate that stuff. I'm sure that sounds like bullshit to the marriage & family gestapo but..... they can pretty much fuck themselves. I'm a great mom. The kids have a great dad. We are not refugees. We are well-fed Americans. It's really ok."
"Lots of prayer, meditation, friends, and as much self-care as I could muster — in terms of exercise, eating well, that kind of thing. It’s hard not to feel like shit when you’re doing something that affects your kids and that basically all of society frowns upon. "
Dignity, Grace and Gratitude Are Key
"What you have to hold in the light is the narrative that you want your kids to have about divorce. They’re going to have their own narrative anyway, you can’t control that, but do you want them to see that ending a relationship can be filled with love and grace? Or do you want them to think that ending a relationship means total annihilation ? The concept of bottoming out of something that's NOT working leads you to set yourself up to figure out what IS working. That's a good thing."