Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Defending Divorce

Back in the 1950’s when I was growing up in a small town, whenever I heard the D word the stereotype image of a cigarette smoking, martini drinking, high heeled woman would flash through my mind. A divorcee’ was somehow a bad woman. I am not quite sure where I got the idea that women were more dishonored in divorce then men, but it seemed to be the case. Divorce was also something that happened to other people’s families. It represented failure, disgrace, and was fodder for gossip.

Times have changed since then. Divorce is common and there doesn’t seem to be too much of a stigma attached to it. In today’s world you can even use “do it yourself” divorce kits. It is easy to download the forms online, fill them out, schedule a court appointment, and you’re good to go. If the separation is uncontested it is called dissolution and if the couple isn’t fighting over the custody of their children or the possession of the stuff it is relatively painless and inexpensive.

I do believe that marriage is a beautiful institution, one that should be honored and taken seriously. I believe that two people should try to make their relationship work and not bail out at the first sign of disagreement. There is no doubt that marriage is hard work. My parent’s marriage is a good example of success. They have been married 60 years. I am sure they had their troubles but they stuck together and resolved their issues. I think that is ideal.

When I got married I thought would stay married. My chosen and I would say our vows, stick to them, and that was that. Simple. I couldn’t have been more wrong. As it turned out I made some bad choices, and in my naivety saw the good in everyone; enter the abusive #1 husband and the womanizing #2 husband. I sadly learned there are no do overs. Some say it is good to stay together for the sake of the children but I don’t think this is always the case. There is forgiveness but there is also no reason to stay in a toxic relationship. This will not help your children. If the marriage simply isn’t working, then it isn’t, and it is better to move on.

There are two tips that I offer that I gleaned from my experience. The first of which is not to “talk trash” about your ex spouse to your children. This is nothing but detrimental to an already difficult situation. Your children love each of you and for them to hear you say negative things about each other is hurtful and confusing. Try to get along and work together pleasantly. You and your ex will always be connected through your children, like it or not, and as you move on with your lives you will be glad you built positive ties.

The second thing is not to judge other people for their choices. Just because someone is divorced doesn’t make them a bad person. Divorce may have been the only option they saw open in their lives. Their marriage may have been very dysfunctional, or, like mine, had some extreme difficulties such as being battered by their spouse.

I am about as different from that 1950 divorcee as you can get. I wear sandals and eat brown rice, (and I might add, am now quite happily married and have four grandchildren whom I see often.) Still, divorce is divorce. Sometimes, it’s the only way.
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