The road to legalizing gay marriage has been long but well worth the effort, and many are taking part in the benefits. Unfortunately, even though many gay couples have waited a long time to get married, just like their heterosexual married counterparts they are just as susceptible to divorce.
In fact, when some states had legalized it but others didn’t, some gay couples opted to get married in those other states, but their home states didn’t recognize their marriages, which also meant if they wanted to get divorced they couldn’t do so. As a result, when the nation legalized gay marriage, there were actually some couples waiting for the law so they could get divorced.
All of that said, divorce is hard, no matter who you are. For gay couples, they may even have it harder, as they may not have friends who have gone through it or understand all the unique implications gay couples face when breaking up. Here are some tips for gay couples going through divorce:
Don’t Stay Together to Prove a Point
If you are unhappy and the marriage needs to end, don’t feel obligated to stay. You may feel like you need to stick it out to prove that legalizing gay marriage was worth the effort. Don’t feel like you alone must bear this on your shoulders. Legalizing gay marriage was worth the effort, even if it means not all gay marriages last. The point is that you have the freedom to choose. So choose what is best for you.
Do Talk to a Lawyer
Don’t try to go it alone, legally speaking. Although divorce means a relationship is ending, and all the emotions that go with it, it’s also a legal process that requires some expertise. Especially if you aren’t sure how things should be divided, and most especially if children are involved, you’ll need the help of a good attorney to help you navigate the system effectively. And also consider that laws keep changing, so you need someone who knows the ins and outs of these laws. Of course, settling as much out of court can help keep things calmer and less expensive, but be sure to have someone on your side fighting for you.
Don’t Doubt Yourself
You are a valuable person worthy of love. It just wasn’t meant to be with this person. Unfortunately, you may be able to tell yourself that, but believing it is another matter. Surely you’ve had many doubts about yourself throughout your life, feeling different than others and coming out to people close to you have caused you to question who you really are. Divorce can do the same thing. What do you want out of life? Who are you? These are questions that many ask of themselves; just be sure you are answering those questions with positive answers. Yes, you are getting divorced, but it isn’t who you are.
Do Talk to a Therapist
You may feel like you’re fine and strong enough to get through this on your own. But don’t feel like it is “giving up” if you step into a therapist’s office. In fact, seeing a professional counselor may be one of the best things you can do for yourself. Your therapist can help you talk through the emotions that may feel like are tumbling around inside your head, and your therapist can help you make sense of it all.
Don’t Hide from Family and Friends
This is one of the worst things you can do, though it may be tempting. Especially if you have had family or friends who weren’t exactly supportive of you being gay or being married, you may feel like they will gloat and say, “Told you so.” That can hurt. But people can also surprise you. Give your family and friends a chance to support you. If they don’t, then quietly step away. Go to those friends and family members who do accept you for who you are and are there for you during this hard time. Don’t hide per say, but be selective if you have to. And don’t just not talk about the divorce—it’s one of the biggest things going on in your life right now. It will feel good to open up to a trusted friend or family member who cares and can offer their shoulder for you to lean on.
Do Remember What is Most Important
During the process, you may get caught up in who gets the house, car, retirement account or knick knacks. While that may indeed seem of utmost importance right now, it’s not worth sleepless nights. Right now, the most important thing for you to do is take care of yourself. Exercise, eat right, spend time connecting with family and friends, and do things you love. Those are what will get you through this, not things. Certainly you need to consider your financial security and future, but remember what is most important isn’t measured in dollars.