Monday, September 13, 2010
I've always had a strange curiosity about divorce mainly because I grew up in a typical nuclear family in the 80s when divorce was in vogue. I would fantasize that my Mom and my BF's Mom were Kate and Allie (I of course got to be Emma, the cuter daughter). We were hip, carefree and unstoppable. I was angry that my parents chose to stay in their miserable marriage instead of liberating themselves with a divorce!
Now that I'm in my 30s, my friends are starting to divorce. I'm not close enough to them to feel what they are going through -- they've kept it private for the most part and are sporting brave faces. Of course I'm dying of curiosity. Is it really as tragic as people say? Do they continue to fight because they are still in love? Why on earth do they re-marry? I don't mean to sound trite -- these are my friend's lives after all. I'm sure the pain, mistrust, loneliness, stigma, hopelessness, poverty .... it's not sounding particularly romantic anymore ... is very real.
I was at a party recently with a divorced couple. I don't know them well enough to know the history behind their separation. All I know is that they hate each other's guts. The tension was unbearable. When I heard them bicker, I wondered if the fighting was worse when they were married -- don't people divorce to put an end to the fighting? I know, it's not that easy. The hurt and resentment go deep and take years to get over and even then most people just get used to hating their ex.
But then there's another friend who divorced one of the most amazing men I know. Their amicable split is unbelievable. They parted because they had become too comfortable in their relationship. According to her, she felt like they were old roommates. She refused to settle for less than passion, so they split up. They left their home in tact for their children's sake and for the first six months after the separation they took turns living in the house on alternate weeks. They remain close friends even after she's moved on to a new relationship. She says that she's never been happier and that her children are thriving?! It completely flies in the face of all that I've seen and yet if it is true, I commend them for standing by their principals and making it work for their kid's sake. But then again, maybe it's amicable because he's still in love with her and is secretly hoping she'll come back? K, the soap-opera in me is getting carried away. My friend left a marriage after 12 years because she had settled into that comfortable married stage. Isn't that what's supposed to happen? I'd love it if the sparks lasted forever. And I've heard that for a minuscule part of the population, it does. But for the rest of us, it dies. And it's sad. And it makes me wonder is this all there is?
I was particularly intrigued with the CBC Show, Asunder, a riveting documentary that explored many facets of divorce and exposed the true raw emotions of all those who are affected by it. Even the happiest divorce is still sad, especially for the kids. One of my best friends is a child of divorced parents and I've learned quite a lot from listening to the stories of being stuck in the middle, living with their bitterness, having to grow-up too soon, and so on...
Then again, I know firsthand that children need to witness a loving relationship so that they will be capable of healthy relationships of their own. Staying together for the kid's sake, when there is little love or respect left is not a only a cop out, but a huge abdication of parental responsibility.
When I re-read this post, it sounds like I'm heading for divorce myself. I won't lie, marriage is not what I thought it would be. I guess the good news is that now that I've let go of my disappointment, I can more fully appreciate what we have. Forget the magic, the tingle, the stomach flip-flops. It's bupkiss. We're a team and we have a big job to do and we need each other to do it right.