Our society is full of people who love to comment on other people's choices. It's become such a habit, half the time we don't even know we're doing it. Anytime someone is revealing something personal about their lives, we're all doing the same thing: We are either agreeing or disagreeing with their choices. We think about what we would do and if we would handle it the same way. And sometimes, we offer our unsolicited opinion—which is almost always a bad idea.
I was recently on the receiving end of this knee-jerk reaction when I was told I took the easy way out in response to my divorce announcement. While I know this isn't true and I didn't go on the defensive, this thought has never entered my mind about others who decided to end their marriage. Not when I was happily married, and especially not now that I am going through a separation.
People who make this claim about divorce have clearly never been through it or they would never say such a thing. I don't know a woman out there who has been through a divorce and didn't fight with everything she had to save her marriage. I guarantee you, leaving or being left was the scariest and bravest thing she had to go through.
Those on the outside may see this decision as being rash and quick because they didn't share the same four walls in which the couple changed, fought and tried. It's not a "get out of jail free" card. You do not pass go, collect $200 and ride off into the sunset. It affects you deeply, for the rest of your life.
The pain you feel during this time is like no other. So nobody gets to sit on the sidelines and say you took the easy way out.
Every time you look at your kids or see another family holding hands crossing the street as you sit alone in your car, you are constantly reminded of how hard you fought and how much you gave and how it still wasn't enough.
Perhaps there are a few who are impulsive when it comes to marriage and divorce, but most say their vows and truly mean them. We've given a huge chunk of ourselves into being a partner with someone else. We've had kids, built a home together, made big life decisions and are well aware of what we are doing.
It is a huge, long process that can drag on for years even after you aren't married anymore. The pain you feel during this time is like no other. So nobody gets to sit on the sidelines and say you took the easy way out. Nobody.
Closing one chapter and starting over alone changes you in ways you can't even imagine. The unknown is a scary place to dive into. So, if you know someone going through a divorce, don't ever suggest they took the easy way out. Lend a supportive ear and just be there.
That's all they need.