The Dirty Little Secret About Divorce
When I was a child, I was told that divorce should only be utilized under the most extreme circumstances or when no other solution was readily available.
I was also told that if children are involved, divorce should not even be considered. I was told that divorce is just not good for children and that they need their parents together no matter what.
These are all valid opinions regarding divorce that are shared by many.
I got divorced when I was 27.
The reasons for my divorce were seemingly legit. There was a pattern of emotional and physical abuse that could not be cured by therapy or healed by time. In fact, the abuse only got worse as the years went by.
Divorce is just like a regular break-up — but with all kinds of strange stigmas and consequences surrounding it. When you make the choice to marry someone and say your vows in front of family and friends, the fact that you made that choice becomes soberingly serious.
If you’ve made the wrong choice, such as deciding to marry someone who may not be mentally stable or who is abusive in some way — your choice almost becomes your complicit consequence for that terrible decision in the eyes of some.
If you decide to marry someone whom you probably shouldn’t have, is it your fault? And if so, should you sit in your unwise decision longer that you’d like to? Should you stay married to this person and ‘stick it out’ just because of the magnitude of the decision itself or because you have children together?
Many of you reading this right now are probably screaming, OF COURSE NOT!!
And I agree.
However, when we discuss the seriousness of making the decision to marry someone, there is a silent expectation placed upon us to uphold this relationship higher than anything else or even anyone else. Marriage is sacred, right? We make promises — and those promises mean something.
If we had just continued on with a relationship without getting married, and then later ended it, shoulders would be shrugged and the acceptance that that particular relationship was over for whatever reason would be there.
But divorce — divorce is different. There’s a dirty little secret thought that you failed at something. That your choice to marry the wrong person betrayed an expectation of a happily ever after. There’s no better luck next time. It’s more of a silent judgment that you screwed up and now you’re in the divorced club.
There’s an unspoken societal agreement that when you make the choice to marry a particular person you need to be completely sure about it — forsaking all else. And if you aren’t sure about it, you’d better figure out a way to make it work.
The concept of marriage has such a complicated and often sordid past that’s intertwined with so many varying religious and cultural ideas. In the past, within most cultures, married women had very few rights of their own, being considered, along with the family’s children, the property of the husband.
Same-sex marriages have only just begun to be accepted both legally and socially. In some areas even today, child marriages and polygamy may occur in spite of national laws against the practice.
The conception and evolution of marriage over time is so flawed that it can be difficult to even take it seriously at times. In today’s modern world, the idea of marriage is widely expected to signify commitment, loyalty, and a promise to uphold the relationship regardless of whatever challenges arise.
Unfortunately, so many of us ‘fail’ at keeping a marriage together which the divorce rates clearly emphasize.
But it’s not necessarily for a lack of trying and it’s not necessarily because we don’t take relationships seriously.
It’s because, just like the concept of marriage, we are all flawed and we are all complicated. Sometimes those decisions that we thought would last a lifetime end up costing us our sanity, our health, or even our life. Sometimes we have to break vows in order to survive.
And that’s OK.
I never intended to get divorced at 27. I intended to give my marriage my best shot — and I did — to the best of my ability.
I don’t feel like a failure. I feel like a person who learned how to thrive.
More from Michelle: How Being A Mistress Changed My Perception of Marriage