Gwen Stefani seems pretty happy right now with boyfriend Blake Shelton, but she recently revealed just how low she got during her split from ex-husband Gavin Rossdale. In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Stefani described the divorce process as “months of torture” and said her “dreams were shattered.”
Stefani is right: Divorce (or separation) is torture, for most people. No matter how ready you are to move on, how convinced you are that there’s nothing worth fighting for in the marriage or how relieved you are that you’ve finally made the decision to leave, it’s not an experience anyone wants to go through. When we get married, we think — hope — it lasts forever, otherwise, what’s the point? To reach the stage where the person you once stood in front of and promised to love and honor and respect forever is the last person in the world you want to be anywhere near; is heartbreaking, disconcerting and terrifying in equal measure.
If abuse, infidelity or some other form of betrayal is a factor, you can go a right ahead and ramp up the torture quota. Sometimes, separating from someone who treated you badly can be a lot harder than someone who treated you well.
My separation wasn’t without its complications, but I’d say it was fairly amicable. My ex and I have tried (and mostly, succeeded) in putting our children’s needs before any hard feeling between us. But still, it was the worst thing I’ve ever gone through. For a long time — the months that Stefani refers to, and then some — I was completely lost. Like Stefani, I thought I would be married forever. I wanted to be a wife and a mom and I longed for the security of being a solid family unit.
If you think torture is too strong a term to describe divorce, you clearly haven’t been through it yourself. Or maybe you’re one of the lucky few, who sail through relationship breakups entirely unscathed. If you are, good for you. But here’s the thing — I don’t envy you. Because even though the torture of my separation took an enormous toll on my emotional, mental and physical health and lead to the biggest crisis of confidence in my life, it also ended up being one of my most positive life experiences.
We need pain (or torture, if you like) to provide a contrast to the pleasure in life. Without pain, life is boring and predictable. There’s a ton of evidence to suggest that pain may actually enhance the pleasure and happiness we get from life. While it’s no fun going through painful times, the very act of doing so can actually make pleasurable feelings even more pleasurable.
This is perfectly played out when it comes to relationships. Don’t all the bad relationships we’ve had in the past make the good ones even better? The pain we go through when we experience divorce makes us a thousand times happier when we get to where we should be — whether that’s with someone else or on our own, just living.