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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Divorce isn't Always What It's Cracked Up To Be!

The STUPIDEST Reason to Divorce

(AKA:  “Wives are always curvier on the other side of the bikini”   OR  “Everybody else’s husband is more romantic and thoughtful”)

Maybe you know somebody who thinks along the lines, and is, therefore, contemplating divorce.  All too often people who choose divorce do so because they think something else would be better or easier than the life they currently have, maybe based on somebody else that seems attractive to them, or based on the fact that they know people who have gone through divorce and “come out okay.”
The core of this is the same principle as the silly old adage, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”  The truth is, grass gets greener when you water and nourish the grass in your own yard.  If you decide to move fields instead, you are going to have to start from scratch preparing soil and planting a new crop of grass!!!  The illusion that a different relationship would be so much easier is often based on the fact that each of us only sees the externals of another couple’s relationship or divorce experience.  Also, when one has a casual friendship with another person, that relationship artificially seems easier than one’s marriage only because it is not a relationship in which one has tried to form a home, raise children or any of the other life tasks tied in with a marriage relationship.  Of course it will appear easier!

In the spirit of a great show I enjoy, “Mythbusters,” I’d like to address some of these issues and dispel a few of the myths, perhaps in a short series of blogs.  And the first myth I’d like to tackle is the illusion that, “somebody else went through divorce and did okay, therefore I ought to do it, too.”  

Do you REALLY believe those people went through divorce unscathed?  

I don’t dispute that people do recover from divorce in such a way that they can move on in life, and do so very well.  But most pay a very high price to get there, and few would say they would ever want to do it again. 

Perhaps it might help to share some of the inside world of divorce, the world that every divorced person automatically knows deep down, but rarely is able to share effectively with those who have not gone through the experience.  Following are a few categories that are some of the personal costs of almost any divorce.

Loss:  That is the dominant word for the experience of divorce.  

The loss of years of work and effort to build a home and marriage.  The loss of plans and dreams for a future that have developed over time.  The loss of significant financial resources and security, as it all is thrown into upheaval and jeapordy through expenses, division and court orders.   And for many, the loss extends to areas like loss of joy, innocence, self-confidence, the ability to trust (especially members of the opposite sex)…maybe even loss of faith.  Unless the person is one of the few who incredibly manage to maintain a very good friendship with your ex, also lost is access to shared memories, no longer able to reminisce together about such things as the birth of your child, their first steps, the first home you purchased, or all the others things that only the two of you experienced.

Jaded:  That is the next word that ties with divorce.  

There is an ache in the soul that divorce creates.  Many individuals have memories that haunt for many, many years.  Skepticism can be a result, with a cynical attitude toward marriage and weddings, as well as members of the opposite sex in general.  There is often self-doubt, in the form of questions:  Could I have done more?  Did I leave too early? Was it all my fault?  Could I have prevented it, what if I had done such and so?  Is there just something wrong with me that makes me unlovable?  Will I ever be able to have a healthy relationship?    ….and each question has to be answered. 

There are also many life opportunities that are robbed with divorce.  While staying temporarily at the home of friends (after my wife filed for divorce and our marriage ended after 19 years of marriage), I noticed a nice tropical tree in their home.  Commenting on it, they told me it had been a gift they received for their 25th anniversary.  

It instantly struck me that I would probably never have a 25th wedding anniversary, and there was an ache in my heart I remember even today, some 16 years later.  

(I was wrong, by the way, now ten years into my second marriage…there IS hope for 25.)  

Though each time I see an announcement of a couple celebrating their 50th, I do realize that is fairly unlikely for my experience. 

A similar ambivalence arises when you are around happy couples whose lives and homes seem so joyful, and you wonder how yours went so wrong.  All of these things create a sense of failure or remind you that your first marriage failed.  Difficult feelings that also have to be worked through.

And there is often a sense of emptiness, a sort of uncertainty in life direction, as if you have been thrown totally off life’s track, and are unsure if you will ever be able to get back on again. 

In the next blog I will describe some things about how having been divorced impacts a second marriage.  I don’t know how well somebody who hasn’t experienced divorce will really understand the things I am describing.  But even when divorce removes someone from an abusive and awful relationship, I believe it is never without some very painful costs…at least not in any situation I have even known.  One of the wisest comments I ever heard came from a good friend who had long been divorced and remarried.  She said to me (as near as I can quote), “I don’t think you ever really get over it.  You do move on, but I’m not sure “getting over it” is an accurate description.”

TL:dr  Divorcing to get out of a bad marriage in order to be happy, thinking it would not be a big deal, is a dangerous myth, as illustrated in the blog.

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