Friday, March 28, 2014

Why I’m Scared of Divorce

I just got word that my uncle and aunt are splitting after nearly 20 years of marriage.

I know statistics say that marriages – yours; mine; the neighbor’s across the street – have about a 50-50 shot of making it. Nothing new here.

As a child who experienced the benefits of having a happily (for the most part) married mommy and daddy, I used to think divorce was something that happened to other parents; other families.

But Father Time has a way of changing one’s outlook on things. I interpret divorce differently now. My knee-jerk response is an aching that resonates on a primal level, followed by an emotional cocktail of fear, sadness, and uncertainty.

In a cruel twist of irony, my mother divorced my father a mere two months after I married my husband. They had been married for 34 years, and the split was pure hell for us all. Make no mistake, it still hurts like a bitch when your parents divorce and you’re 30.

The upside is that there are no custody battles or screaming matches/teeth-sucking/eye-rolling at visitation drop-offs.

The downside, though, is that you’re shielded from nothing because it is perceived that you’re old enough to handle it.

Divorce can turn people – even good ones – into hot-tempered, irrational jackasses. And while it is true that time heals all wounds (you might forget overhearing what your dad said about your mom when you were, say, five), words become ingrained in your psyche when you’re 30. Not enough time has passed for me to forget how my father forbade my husband and me to enter their home to help my mother retrieve her belongings – just to make things more difficult. Not enough time has passed to forget the vile voicemail messages my dad left for my mom.

I don’t know if it ever will.

The end result is the harsh realization that divorce happens, and it someday could be coming to a marriage near you. Or me.

To be clear, I love my husband now more than ever, and I married him for the right reasons. Our union, which was built on a solid foundation of acceptance, pure affection, and loyalty, is strong. I am happy – completely happy – and I cannot fathom the day when I would feel in my bones that walking away from it all is the better option.

However.

Can’t most spouses say the same about the early stages of their marriage? I’m sure my aunt and uncle did at one point. Sure, some marriages are doomed from the start, but I’m not talking about those. I’m talking about the couples who went into it with eyes wide open and hearts bursting with love.

I no longer think any marriage is immune from this thing called divorce. And once you accept divorce as not necessarily a likelihood, of course, but a mere possibility – something you both have to work on to prevent, you begin to wonder if even the smallest of fissures might eventually be the proverbial loose thread that unravels it all someday. I’m just saying.

And it’s not just divorce itself that frightens me. It’s the aftermath.

I have long respected those couples who have summoned the resolve to stay put and stick it out. But I also know that it takes courage to strike out on your own for the betterment of your well-being – even if that means possibly facing financial instability, a shitload of what-ifs, and the prospect of knowing that you might end up alone. Not to mention being viewed as a leper by other married couples who knew you in your past life because they now fear your divorce might rub off on them.

This is the reality of millions of women, and the kicker is this: None of them probably thought they’d end up in this position.

I can only hope my fate is different.



“Why I’m Scared of Divorce” was originally published by Mamalode on March 26, 2014.
(You can view it here.)

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23 comments:

  1. Girl, you would be proud of me! When I went through my divorce the ex and I made a conscious effort to not say anything bad about each other or put our kids in the middle. He lives a few blocks away and the boys could run and see him anytime they wanted. I would never say anything bad about him to the boys because he will always be their father no matter what. That was over 14 years ago and the ex and new hubby get along good too! I think it's much easier to have a good divorce than an ugly one. You don't waste precious time stewing over the past. Besides anger and worry cause wrinkles and you know this Goddess won't be having any of that!!

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    1. Seriously, you are so right. As bad as this experience was for me being an adult child of divorce, I think it may have been worse if I were younger. My dad just didn't have the kind of personality of someone who would play nice in a divorce...

      As much as I hate to hear about divorce -- PERIOD -- I don't live life with rose-colored glasses on, and I know that it happens. That said, I AM so very proud of you -- and your ex -- for making it as amicable as possible.

      MAJOR kuddos to the both of you...and Godspeed to you and your family.

      THANK YOU for sharing this story!!

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  2. I've been divorced for over 18 years and my ex and I have always put the kids first. We've always been civil and actually took a vacation together after the divorce with the kids so that they knew a family bond was still there.

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    1. Wow, good for you guys. Again, while I NEVER relish hearing tales of divorce, I at least have some hope for civilization that exes can co-exist in harmony, particularly when kids are involved.

      I truly appreciate your taking the time to share this -- more of this needs to be heard.

      (I'll be heading over to your site this evening, by the way, later today!)

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  3. Divorce is a scary thing. Twice my parents came close---they separated for about a year each time when I was a teenager and it was so hard on us kids. I have been married 30 years and we have gone through two rough patches, but neither one of us was willing to call it quits. We as have four kids and knew we had to make it work. I'm happy to say that we are happier now in our marriage than we have ever been.

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    1. Hi, Marcia! Thank you for stopping by...

      Your comment is enlightening, and in a way, refreshing because of your condor. I mean, let's face it, rough patches suck -- and while they are unpleasant, yes, I don't think a rough patch in and of itself is a bad thing -- they are simply a reality of life when two people are in it for the long haul. It's how you deal with the rough patch that matters.

      Scott and I are only coming up on year #7, and while we haven't hit one yet, but if we do, it is my hope that we can call upon the stuff -- all the good stuff -- that made us want this marriage in the first place.

      Thank you for sharing your story.

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  4. My parents divorce was very messy. My siblings and I were young at the time and it would hurt us deeply seeing our parents fight, the whole custody swap, each parent talking bad about one another to us, etc.

    I think that may be the reason why I'm too scared to marry my children's father because of me witnessing my parents messy divorce.

    Great post Courtney! Enjoy your weekend!

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    1. Awww, Louida. I truly hope you don't let the prospect of divorce (which may not even happen) sour what could end up being such a beautiful gift for you, your girls, and entire family.

      Really, think about it: Would you not go outside because it *might* rain? If you did, you'd never see the the sun, whose beauty so exceeds the ugliness of the sun! :-)

      I know you will do what's best for you -- but I hope you consider it someday.

      I hope you have a wonderful weekend, too, and thank you, as always, for weighing in!

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    2. Great point! But I do know I'll get married some day.

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  5. My parents are still married after 40-some years, but I was actually married briefly in my early 30's and divorced. I definitely felt like a leper for a minute there. We didn't have any kids, so there was none of that ugliness, but it is still: who gets the friends? and what the heck do i do now, i thought I was done with dating! I was married to my now husband who I have 2 kids with less than 2 months before the ink was dry on the divorce, so obviously I wasn't too soured on marriage, but boy does divorce have some ugly claws for a lot of people. You really captured the sadness of it and how it is so much more than just the 2 people in it.

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    1. Thank you, Susan.

      Sadness. Yup. There was a lot of that. (And truth be told, I'm not sure how much of it ever truly goes away...)

      Thank you for commenting.

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  6. I've never understood why people turn into vicious, spiteful crazies when they divorce. Why waste time with all those histrionics when you should be moving on and getting a new life going? Don't people have any self-respect? And for those who get divorced because they think there's something better out there -- there isn't. There's just different, not better.

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    1. Hi, Lexa!

      You raise a terrific point. Sigh. Although, logically, it makes no sense, I get, "in theory", why people turn into jack asses: I mean, there is so much raw, palpable emotion involved -- and, chances are, there will be one person who doesn't want the divorce. I know, for example, my mom didn't want this. I mean, yes, she chose to file because it takes two to maintain a marriage and if the other's not invested in making it work, one must save himself. My mother was not one of the ones who wanted to get something better out there. The other person has to want the marriage, too.

      But back to people turning into crazies...again, I get how it can happen...but I sure do wish cooler heads were always able to prevail.

      And that's another reason why I'm scared of divorce: The unpredictability of it all. Again, most people don't foresee themselves getting a divorce, so they really don't know how they'll take it until they are put in that situation. Add kids to the mix, and man, stuff can get nuts.

      Thank you so much for commenting; I look forward to it. (I often find myself wondering, What is Lexa going to have to say about this?) Have a fabulous weekend! :-)

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  7. Posts like this are why I lean into singles to be okay living single and to make conscious dating choices. You said you married your husband for the right reasons. Kudos to you! Many today are marrying for the wrong reasons making divorce inevitable. My parents will celebrate 50 years of marriage tomorrow. I've learned so much from watching them my entire life. I know how to avoid divorce and enjoy marriage thanks to them.

    Stopping by from SITS!

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    1. Hi, Yvonne! That is so wonderful that you have good, solid role models with regard to the institution of marriage -- that is most definitely helpful.

      The other half the battle, of course, is connecting with someone who the same (or at least similar) values as yours, that way, you guys can work together toward the same objective. At the end of the day, it always takes two.

      Thank you so much for commenting. Have a wonderful weekend! :-)

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  8. Courtney great post. I was hesitant to share my views because sometimes in this world of looking for perfection, those of us who are perfectly imperfect make others uncomfortable. I believe in peace and happiness by any means necessary and if that means a union that was once strong is no longer than so be it. Cracks in relationships don't happen over night, they build over time and sometimes people don't want to admit it or face it. Relationships don't take hard work but they do require two people who respect and care for one another as FRIENDS first that are willing to always communicate and help build each other up. Support and kindness. I ended my eighteen year relationship with my daughter's father not because I no longer loved him, but because I still loved him and loved myself more to know that our time growing TOGETHER had come to an end. It was a bit tough, adjustments had to be made but we made it and we still love each other dearly and respect one another immensely almost seven years later. I saw what an ugly divorce my mother had and I knew into one would come out of that stronger or healthier I saw what it did to my sisters and I would say the adults were selfish in the handling of things. Sooooo with all that said no one wishes unions would end but peace is better over sacrifice and day. :)

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    1. First, and foremost, Mari, thank you so very much for sharing your experience. I truly appreciate it.

      Secondly, EVERY ONE of us is perfectly imperfect. We might be in various stages of our life journey -- i.e. some of us are happy, others are sad; some are wealthy, others are struggling; etc. But make no mistake about it: we will forever be perfectly imperfect.

      I agree with you with regard to peace. At the end of the day, living in peace is, indeed the name of the game, and all of us have to weave through different routes to find his or her peace. I'm glad you had the courage to realize that leaving your child's father was indeed what you needed to do to find peace.

      Again, thank you so much for commenting! I value your words.

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  9. My parents divorced when I was 12, and I've always worried about it, too. I almost irrationally refuse to get one ever because I don't want to be a stereotype ("oh, sure she got divorced--she's the child of divorce"). But on the upside, it's made me work hard through the hard spots, and my husband and I are stronger and happier for it.

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    1. Hi, Jessica! Ah, yes, I totally forgot about the fact that we are now part of a statistic. (sigh.) I hear you, though, about the fact that the hand that we've been dealt also serves to make us work harder -- as well as place a higher value -- on our own union.

      It's the best way we can make lemonade out of lemons, right?

      Thank you for taking the time to visit -- and comment! I appreciate it.

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  10. I am extremely afraid of divorce. They are no long term happy couples in my family, and I always seek advice from those divorced to see what happened. I don't know if I'm getting valuable advice, but 7 years in, there's no sign.

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    1. Hi, April! (Yet another thing we have in common: Scott and I will be married for 7 years this year, too!)

      Your post truly makes me think. Sometimes I wonder whether a couple even knows what was the crux of their split, you know? But I think it is excellent that you care enough about keeping your marriage strong to inquire about what can go wrong -- and what can be done to fit it...My thoughts are, we can't be so scared of divorce and put blinders on and say, "Oh, it could never happen to me."

      The hell it can't. We're all susceptible -- and the best thing we can do to keep our marriages strong is to be open and real.

      Thank you so much for commenting, and thank you for your insight.

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  11. What an interesting post. My parents split up 6 months before I got married, it's funny how much it effects you even when you are an adult. I've been married for 22 years now though and am as sure today as I was then, that it was/is completely the right thing for me (and him!). I think the secret is to really like each other as well as loving each other.
    On a slightly different topic, your hair is just like my daughters! Do you have any top tips for keeping it in such great condition?

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    1. Hi, Julia! Welcome! And thank you so much for the kind words about my hair. I maintain the key to keeping my hair healthy lies in what I use on it when washing it. Please check out my "About the Hair" link for the low-down on all of that. Now, in between washes, I do as little to my hair as possible. And I only use, like, too products on my hair in between washes -- and 100% pure shea butter is one of them -- I believe that using too many products can actually dry one's hair out. I'm actually working on putting a "My Daily Hair Maintenance" post together in the coming weeks, so please check back for it!

      Now, seriously, as for the divorce. I'm sorry. We are kindred spirits, having experienced some of the same emotions, I'm sure, since our parents divorced so close to when we married. I wholeheartedly agree with you about this point: " I think the secret is to really like each other as well as loving each other."

      You are right on the money right there...

      Thank you for visiting -- and commenting, and I hope you come back!

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