Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Hitting an interesting milestone

Recently I realized I had hit an interesting milestone in my life. I've gone through the stage where it feels like everyone is getting married, and then having kids. And now, I've hit the time when my friends are starting to get divorced.

Both D and I come from divorced families so divorce and the effects of divorce are something I've spent a fair amount of time thinking about. I also recently read this article which points out something interesting: that all the studies on the effects of divorce are flawed because you can't take into account what would have happened if parents had stayed together. Divorce is complicated and there are so many factors and outcomes that it's almost impossible to compare one situation to another. So I think about my family. Would I have been better off if my parents had stayed together? How do I know? My parents divorce in my early teens was certainly traumatic for a number of reasons too personal to get into. But the reasons for the split were real. My parents weren't in a good relationship. If they had stayed together would I have ever known that? Would that have become my model for a relationship? And what are the consequences of living with parents who are unhappy?

Two of my dear friends have dealt with divorce this last year and both of course really struggled with the decision. One was a marriage with no kids and while still heart-breaking, it was a bit more straightforward and now that they are divorced, he's not a part of her life anymore. My other friend had at the time a 4 year old daughter to consider, and it made things so hard. In the end, while my friend worried a lot about the negative effects a divorce would have on her child, she saw more benefits. Divorce for her meant getting out of a bad relationship, reconnecting with herself, and living more in tune with her values. Weren't these all things she wanted to teach her daughter? And my friend and her now ex-husband have worked hard to be collaborative co-parents. In this way I think they continue to teach their child how to have good relationships, even if those relationships change over time.

Breaking a commitment is hard, and that's what marriage is: a huge commitment. Are there circumstances where it is ok to make that break? To leave something you love behind? To hurt someone else? I think so. Marriage takes two people and if the partnership is flawed, if one person isn't willing to work on things for example, then sometimes you need move on. And the effects of a decision like that will be both good and bad, hard and relieving. But sadly, always heart-breaking.

Anyone else have experience with divorce?

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