First Name: Matthew
Marital Status (please tick as appropriate):
I hate being divorced. Don’t get me wrong, in spite of all the pain and regret I accept my marriage ending, and I believe that one day I will meet somebody with whom I’ll feel happier and more fulfilled than I ever have before. Still, I hate being divorced.
I hate failing, and divorce is a failure that I will always have to carry. And there aren’t many failures that we are obliged to declare on official forms, just to make sure that people are aware of our failure. Well, isn’t it only right and proper that any potential employer, for instance, should know that my wife decided to leave me?
You can put your violins away, I’m not looking for sympathy; but I can’t deny that it bothers me. Divorce is a deeply personal failure, more so when children are involved. And human nature being as it is, when we know that someone’s marriage ended we can’t help but wonder why. Did he cheat? Was he a control freak? Couldn’t he keep her satisfied? Filling in ‘Divorced’ tick boxes can feel like seasoning the wounds of failure.
Failure, failure, failure…. I hate that word. I especially hate it as a label. We can of course choose to look at it another way: like all failures divorce carries within it the positive potentiality of future success, helping us to make wiser choices, be more self-aware, and better understand our own needs and those of others. We can choose to look at divorce not as a failure but as an opportunity, a lesson, a catalyst for something better.
But I’m not going to sprinkle it with sugar, when it comes right down to it divorce is a failure – the failure of one or both parties to live up to and honour the solemn vows that they made to one another. I didn’t set out to marry until divorce do us part, and neither did my wife.
I failed. We failed.
‘If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it’ – I hear this phrase a lot and many times it is used as a platitude to avoid facing tough questions about things that could be done better; tough questions that would in turn force us to ask questions of ourselves that we may not have the answers for. So we avoid them.
Or, we fail to even recognise what is broken at all, until the break is beyond our ability – or our will – to repair.
Making a marriage work involves just that, work. There is a romantic notion that seems to have gathered currency in recent years that the ‘right’ relationship shouldn’t require ‘work’, that our ‘soulmate’ will complement us perfectly, be the ying to our yang, the gin to our tonic.
With the right partner we should be stirred, but not shaken.
I don’t buy it. As a great philosopher once said, ‘life ain’t no fairytale’ (https://lovelaughtertruthblog.com/2016/05/02/i-know-i-am-a-fck-up-just-the-same-as-you/). Marriage is work. Marriage is sacrifice. Marriage is compromise. And it is our commitment to these very virtues that acts to cement the lifelong bond that marriage promises.
In facing the potential breakdown of a marriage, in contemplating the life-altering failure of divorce, perhaps we need to ask ourselves if in working at our marriage – in making sacrifices, in making compromises – have our roots become more entwined, or have they untangled? In nurturing our partnership have we in fact sacrificed or compromised valuable parts of our selves?
When we divorce we fail. But it is when we lose ourselves along the way that we most truly fail.
Tear In Your Hand – Tori Amos