No Such Thing as a Failed Marriage
“I am 45 with two failed marriages!” my friend asserted while in a full self-pity spiral. As if the number of years she has been on the planet plus the number of times she has believed in a relationship somehow means she will never find love or be worthy of respect again. I couldn’t believe it. This was a smart, strong, dynamic woman who had worked hard at not one, but two separate marriages – each one lasting over 10 years. Yet in this moment, she was reducing herself to her two “failures”.
That, my friends, is the mother-fucking bullshit.
And we are fed this bullshit at every turn. Admit it – when you hear that someone has been divorced, especially more than once, you wonder “what is wrong with them?” . Even if just for a moment. Of course you do – it is how we are taught to look at divorce.
“Divorce is for the weak: those who are not really trying, those who never took it seriously enough in the first place. Divorced people are damaged people.”
No. Untrue. False.
There is nothing inherently wrong with people who have been divorced. They are simply people who got married, then let go of that marriage when it no longer made sense for them too be in that marriage. Divorce takes introspection, it takes advocating for yourself, and it takes courage. I propose that when we hear someone has been divorced, instead of concluding there is something wrong with them, we conclude there is something right with them. They are living mindfully and they are not afraid of changing when they are in a situation that no longer serves them.
And if I see one more headline from jezebel.com, et al., Saying some shit like “this breakup proves love is dead!” I am going to make it my personal mission to make sure I prove jezebel.com is dead. Oh my God! You said it about Jen and Ben, Amy and Nick, Kermit and Miss Piggy, for the love of all that is true and right in this world! Posting pictures of them happy and together and noting they are no longer together does not mean love is freaking dead – it actually means it is very much alive!
And, to be clear, I am not just talking about marriage here. Whether or not you are married, maintaining an intimate relationship is an accomplishment. Being made to feel badly about choosing to move on is (in case we need reminding) complete BULLSHIT.
The social handcuffs of shame that accompany divorce have simply got to come off. Let’s stop wearing them. Let’s stop putting them on other people. Let’s stop thinking of relationships ending as a tragedy and start thinking of them as what they are, relationships that have run their course. Change and transition are hard enough, no one dealing with that needs to have your stinky judgement heaped on top of their imminent life change.
I was once married to a man who tried to shame me into thinking I could never leave him: “You have two kids with two different fathers,” he would say. “You can’t leave me without appearing very white-trash.” Interesting. By the way, I did leave him, and I also had two more kids with a new (and awesome) man. And my white-trash life has never been better. Letting go of that relationship that worked to cut me down instead of build me up was the best decision I have ever made for myself.
And I would call that the opposite of failure.
Related: Five Steps to a Great Divorce!