Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Divorce

"For some reason, we see divorce as a signal of failure, despite the fact that each of us has a right, and an obligation, to rectify any other mistake we make in life." Joyce Brothers


Before we go any further this is not an announcement and my husband and I are not getting divorced at this time.  However, our neighbors are. It has led to a lot of questions and discussions in our house with our boys, particularly Max. People should not call it quits without trying, hard, but as the song says "sometimes it lasts in love but sometimes it hurts (Adele)".


I grew up in an era where divorce no longer carried the stigma it had in previous generations.  That is not to say that to many people it is still not negatively viewed.  I knew a number of people who got divorced who never saw it as an indication of failing. There were plenty of people around my family who did not divorce but instead chose to live unhappy lives with the person they were married to, usually ensuring that their spouse was equally or more miserable.  I am also lucky to know a lot of long-term happily married people (some domestic partnerships, some "traditional" all right for one another). My parents got divorced after 23 years of marriage, I have been known to say they should have divorced probably after 23 months of marriage ....but then they would  not have had me and well as an only child it always is all about me.  My early memories in Romania were of them fighting, then they were gone and when I got to the States they were fairly happy for a while. My Mom says that when they had no one else and they were struggling with their leaving from Romania they depended on each other and were actually probably at their best in their marriage.  My parents' divorce left me with a keen sense of disappointment in people (those who judged and were unkind to either of them after) and a good instinct for the difference between real friends and those who will not accept you for what you were. Many people could not understand how my Mother could leave my Father, he was the life of any party, charming, funny, intelligent, well rounded, too bad that wasn't all he was at home. At home he could be moody, depressed, angry and all of the above, sometimes in the same day. Many years of therapy later I realized how he could have used many years of it himself.  My parents were right to separate and no one should judge them for it....including me. They chose to spend what time they had in this life not being miserable with each other and content apart. My Father had multiple girlfriends and wives after my Mom. Some of were nice, some were not, most were there for him and I was happy that he was not alone. My Mother has been remarried to the same man for over 25 years. My relationships with each of them was independent of their relationship with one another.   I applaud my parents for never fighting through me and for always reminding me that they divorced each other and not me. 


In our house trying to explain our neighbors' divorce I found myself telling my kids that it is something that happens when people are no longer able to live together.  I hear myself telling them that people marry because they find love, kindness, good times with someone and when that ends it is better to be apart but that it is never the kids fault that they cannot stay together. The break-up is never the way we imagine any relationship to end but to be together and no longer able to be civil to each other is not  a benefit to anyone in that family. Being with a person you no longer feel anything for is lonelier than being alone. Over the years I have heard really scary stories of how people have drained themselves to focus on destroying the other person after they were divorced, what a waste, all that energy could have been used to move on and maybe find someone who could have redirected your passions positively. I have told my kids that divorced parents love their kids as much as married parents do and refuse to make false promises to them about our family.  I do not think we will divorce but who does?  Divorce....marriage....it is not easy either way but we all should have the choice to take either path, to use the time we have on this earth and make the most of it...the decisions we make as parents are difficult but teaching our kids to be happy is one of the greatest gifts we can give them.

Divorce is probably of nearly the same date as marriage. I believe, however, that marriage is some weeks the more ancient.
Voltaire

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