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The Guilt of Divorce: What about your commitment?

In the maze of emotions that accompany the decision to divorce, guilt stands out as one of the most paralyzing. It’s an emotion so strong that it can hold people captive in unhappy marriages, making them question their right to pursue personal happiness. But what if this guilt was merely a construct, a societal groove we’ve unknowingly been placed in? Dr. Carolyn Kurle, author of “The Guidance Groove,” provides some fresh perspective on the subject.

At the heart of the matter is the personal, familial and social importance we give to vows and commitments. Owner of Modern Law, Billie Tarascio, is an advocate for understanding the emotional aspects of divorce, and in a recent Modern Divorce Podcast, she asked an essential query: with the institution of marriage being so ancient and sacred, how does one reconcile the feelings of guilt when the journey doesn’t pan out as expected? Carolyn explains by emphasizing that what felt true at the moment of commitment may not remain so forever. She says that this change of heart or circumstances doesn’t invalidate the initial sincerity or depth of feelings.

Dr. Kurle’s Divorce

Carolyn’s own journey is an eye-opener. She shares her personal experience of evolving feelings in her marital relationship. Despite her divorce, she considers her ex-husband Christian as a “family partner,” reshaping the definition of commitment. This redefinition challenges the societal norms and paints a picture of fluidity in relationships, where love and respect can manifest in different forms over time.
One of the most compelling concepts from Carolyn’s book, “The Guidance Groove,” is the “obligation groove.”

This concept speaks to the societal and personal pressures pushing individuals to stay in marriages, even when they’re deeply unhappy. Often, it’s not the commitment to a partner that becomes the tether but rather the obligation to society, family, or even self-set standards. Carolyn suggests questioning these obligations. Is staying truly for the best of all involved? Or is it a decision steeped in fear, misconceptions, or societal expectations?

Carolyn recounts how her ex husband Christian considered their decision to divorce as a gift. This perspective shift is profound. What if leaving or seeking change is not an act of betrayal, but one of liberation and true love? By bravely confronting the truth of their relationship, they allowed each other the chance to find happiness and fulfillment anew.

Coming Out Of Hiding

An essential takeaway from Carolyn’s teachings is the act of “coming out of hiding.” Many of us suppress, deny, or mask our true feelings and desires, especially in intimate relationships. This suppression often stems from childhood teachings that emphasize conformity over authenticity. Carolyn encourages us to confront these truths, both internally and with our partners. By acknowledging and acting on what truly resonates with us, we break free from the shackles of guilt and obligation.

Divorce, like any significant life decision, will always be accompanied by a gamut of emotions. But it’s crucial to understand that feelings of guilt or failure stem more from societal constructs than personal shortcomings. By continually reassessing our truths and having the courage to act on them, we don’t necessarily break our commitments. Instead, we reshape them to reflect our evolving selves.

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