It’s the first word that floated to the surface of the
polluted mass that had become my brain when I first allowed myself to
contemplate the possibility that my marriage was over nearly one year ago.
As if 10 years of living and loving and hating and learning
and laughing and crying and ignoring and accepting and shouting and having
babies and sleeping and eating together is immediately moot because we are no
longer together. Is that how it works? Do we need to still be together to
legitimize all of the ferocious beauty that was borne of our togetherness,
namely three wondrous children who are the light of our lives?
Whether you’re married
or divorced or currently clicking the old “It’s Complicated” Facebook box, think
of everything in your life that came from your relationship, especially kids,
if you have them. How can all of those beautiful experiences be considered a
When people die, does that mean all of their living was a
failure? Of course not! We have funerals to remember lives and pay tribute. So
then, if a marriage ends, does that negate all the good that came after I do and before I don’t? Why not choose to honor the life of the marriage in the
same way we remember the lives of those who have died?
We need to stop viewing divorce as a failure, stop
stigmatizing those who realize their lives together are more detrimental to
each other and their children then apart! Maybe some people give up too soon
and for silly reasons, but mostly, nobody who took the bold step of joining
their life to someone else’s wants to divorce; so you have couples working
their asses off to keep it together for fear of failure, couples who often end
up staying together for far too long and causing irreparable damage to
themselves and their children.
Staying together at the cost of your mental well-being is not what’s best for your kids, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
I used to tell myself the secret to staying married was to
just stay married no matter what. I said this at a point when I was so
miserably married I couldn’t breathe on most days but didn’t want to put my
children through a divorce. I didn’t want to ‘fail.’ I told myself that for the
longest time. Hang in there. Don’t fail
at marriage like your parents. It’s not about you, it’s about your kids.
It took me a long time to realize and admit to myself that
what was happening in my marriage was worse than divorce. It wasn’t anything stereotypically
horrific. No physical abuse, no insane shouting or punching holes in the walls — but what was happening was just as unbearable: a complete lack of love, anger, resentment
so thick it rolled off our bodies like body odor. Two people who no longer belonged together
just going through the motions. Faking it. Hiding it. Lying to ourselves until
the quiet desperation of our mutual solitude nearly strangled us.
Staying together at the cost of your mental well-being is
not what’s best for your kids, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Just as
every child deserves to come from a two-parent home, they also deserve mentally
healthy parents who are able to set a good relationship example and create an
environment free from tension and resentment.
So now we’re divorcing. I still beat myself up about it all
the time, but I’m starting to see glimpses of how it can be. Two happy, fulfilled
parents who still love each other – more than ever, in fact — and are committed to raising productive,
awesome citizens of the world.
Your marriage and its end is just another chapter in the
book of your life experience. It doesn’t define you, but how you respond to it
does. Anyone who has ever agonized through a divorce comes out the other side a
stronger, wiser person for it. You can’t help but learn about yourself and
others when experiencing that kind of heartbreak.
I didn’t fail. You didn’t fail. Your marriage served an important
purpose in your life and reached its conclusion. Stop beating yourself up! Acknowledge and
appreciate the beauty your marriage brought to your life, remember the lessons
learned and then get on with the business of getting on, especially if that
includes raising the kids that were the biggest gift of your marriage.