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Suppose your relationship was ending now, instead of then. Suppose you could do one thing over. You cannot save your relationship, but you sure wish you had...
Mine is... I sure wish I had realized she was not the same woman anymore; that we were locked into an adversarial system and that I would need to fight because the only thing that matters anymore is the judges decree.
We live in a world where too many people won't go far enough... won't do what they know is right... what they believe.
A clear understanding that I couldn't buy her off.
I.E., I could throw the world at her (I did), ask her for counseling & to work on it (she went but didn't), but that all I did was remove her incentives to be reasonable. She had my attention -- she was destroying my family so hell yes she had my attention; she had my money -- I gave up most of my paycheck to avoid disruption to my family; and she had zero incentive to do anything because of it.
End of day, I'd lock & load, put up a great defense, hire the best, tell her to pi$$ off, then if she wants counseling, do it from a position of equality. Trying to restore a relationship from a position of relative weakness leads to automatic loss of everything near & dear to you....you have to give up too much just to level the playing field, to come out happy means giving all of it up.
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i wouldn't have settled out of court. i was nervous of losing my kids and was willing to give her way more parenting time then i should have to make sure that happened. i should have made her a 'weekend mommy' and given her half of the marital debt. i ended up taking all the debt, giving her THOUSANDS in cash, a paid for car, furniture, and paying off her STD related ER visits so she would sign over sole custody to me. in retrospect i think i would have gotten it anyway without having to give her so much money and time with my kids.
however, I am an ardent believer in the adage "things happen for a reason" so while i do regret getting married, I don't regret my children...who would have never happened if I didnt get married. So you take the good with the bad.
God works in mysterious ways and sometimes it the answer isnt right in front of your face...it sometimes takes hindsight to identify.
A couple of years ago my favorite song was "Bless the Broken Road" by Rascal Flatts. I endured 20 years of insanity with my ex, but it got me some great kids and led me on a path to where I wound up with a wonderful woman as my new wife as of a few years ago.
If love is a battlefield then my first marriage was the Little Bighorn.
I have no regrets for filing. I know I gave it my all for yrs only to receive complete emptiness in return so it was time. I had a great career, nice place to live before I met NJ,, after taking on some water for a while after divorce I still have my great career and eventually found a new place to live with one addtional since that time that I am truly thankful for my wonderful kids minus one miserable nutjob.