Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The D

No, not that D. This is a post about divorce. Before you freak out and call me (Mom....), no, Joey and I aren't getting a divorce. This is a post about divorce as an institution, nothing personal. Speaking of not taking things personally, a quick disclaimer:

   I almost didn't write this because I'm sure someone out there in the world will take it the wrong way. I hate offending people and I hate the possibility that somewhere out there in the universe someone is mad at me. But what I hate more is feeling like I have no voice- that I'm constantly silencing myself for other's convenience. So in an act of self-care and therapeutic catharsis, I'm going to speak my truth. You (that is, those "you"s who feel the need to act as if everyone is living AT you) need to either kindly get the fuck over yourself or skip this post. Me sharing my thoughts and experience does not equal me judging people with different thoughts or experiences. Disagree with every word in this post? Cool. That's why we are two different people. There is no need to explain to me why my experience does not apply to you or in what situations it would be completely different or the importance of another perspective. This is my perspective; that's it. I'm not giving relationship advice or claiming to have any sort of answers. So onto the actual post...

   Even though I'm not giving advice or anything, I feel like I should be upfront about my personal experiences with divorce. My parents divorced when I was a year old and I myself have been divorced. My first marriage lasted a whopping 18 months. So if you want to get psychoanalytical about things and dissect the rest of this post with that in mind, go for it. I'm not pretending that these past experiences don't have any affect on my thoughts and beliefs about the subject.

 So why I am writing about divorce anyway? It's honestly pretty random. I see a variety of Facebook memes about all sorts of things and that includes divorce. I have seen a few along the lines of "Back in the day.." or "For my grandparents" attesting to how much more wonderful the institution of marriage was before divorce became more prevalent. I also see a lot of memes along the lines of "We don't throw away something broken, we fix it" and "First marriage is the only marriage". So these two types of sentiments, which I will address separately, get me thinking sometimes. Joey and I have discussed them and seem to be in agreement about the ideas in general and our own thoughts on divorce. So I'll start by addressing the two specific things I mentioned, and then also more general ideas.

"Back in the Day"
     Ok, so yeah, there used to be less divorce. But that doesn't mean that divorce is inherently bad AND more importantly, that doesn't mean marriages were necessarily better. There were women who were stuck in horribly abusive relationships, children stuck in abusive or otherwise unhealthy families, and families of people who were absolutely miserable. Are there people who overuse divorce or don't take marriage seriously? Well yeah, but why do you care? My thoughts on divorce are similar to those on abortion- if you don't like it, don't get one.

"Don't give up, just fix it!"
   I am by no means advocating that you not put time and effort into marriage. It is super hard sometimes and that means putting in 110% and pushing the boulder up hill and all those other metaphors. I get that. But you know how on Hoarders, half of the house is full of broken junk and every time the host is like "Hey, how about you throw out this broken thing?" the Hoarder always responds with "But I can fix it!!!!!"....? Yeah, my feelings are kind of like that. Sure, you can hypothetically fix whatever. You can painstakingly super glue a shattered windshield back together piece by piece if you really want to. Or melt it down and reform it, even. The point is- we all know damn well that Hoarder isn't going to fix shit. Having the potential to fix something doesn't mean it's going to get fixed and there is a good chance you could just spend your entire life lugging around broken trash. I think some people can legitimately recognize when they are delaying the inevitable and just need to let something go. And I don't think that is a bad thing.

   So another general thing that I have noticed is the fact that divorce is still very much a taboo. Liz Taylor and other celebrities aside, we still have a lot of socio-cultural baggage surrounding divorce. This really hits home for me in the number of relationship help columns, books, and articles (as well as some personal accounts) that state simply uttering the word 'divorce' is bad for a marriage. The "it can never be taken back" superstition around the word divorce is slightly confusing to me. I mean, I get that for some people (for either religious of philosophical reasons), they don't consider divorce an option. But if leaving isn't an option, then staying isn't either.

  Which brings me to Joey and I's general agreement about divorce and it's place in our marriage (interesting concept, huh?). We most certainly want divorce to be an option. We want it to have a place in our discussions about our relationship and our family. We recognize that for some people, having separate parents creates a healthier overall family. And we acknowledge that we don't want the other person to be miserable. Neither of us hold any particular religious or philosophical beliefs that would preclude divorce. Finally, we want to know that if we are in this, if we are still together, it is because we absolutely without a shadow of a doubt want to be. Not because we feel guilty about leaving or because we are scared of what people will say. So we talk about divorce a lot. When we are having rough spots in our marriage (which is a lot now that Perrin is here), we talk about it. Do you think it would be better if we had time apart? Do we need space? Are we at the end of this road? Do we need to rethink our family and relationship? And so far, the answers have been decidedly, No. We like where we are at. It is hard. It sucks sometimes. But we still both want to be here. But if one of us ever answers yes, it will be in a safe place. Because there is an understanding that we are both open and committed to whatever family arrangement is best for all three of us. And sometimes that includes divorce. And that can be okay. And that we are willing to sacrifice our marriage for our family and our relationship. I am thankful for that.

  So when I see some of those memes with those cute little quips about divorce and the sanctity of marriage, I smile- because I know that divorce has a place in our marriage. And I know that that statement probably horrifies some people. But for Joey and I, it brings us comfort. Because we want to be stuck together. And we want to want it.