Soleil & A Brand New Adventure

I am generally fascinated by divorce. How does it happen? Who makes that decision? Does it pop out at you like the bogey man? When does someone know, for certain, that it is over? And how does that conversation happen? And what happens after?

A few months ago I got to pick Soleil’s brain about all of this as her divorce was newly established. As much as young divorce (or any divorce) sucks, it is also about the opening and closing of doors, the birth of new chapters, and fresh starts. It’s sad and hard and terrible, but also ultimately a good thing? I think? That is the point, right? It is supposed to be something that sucks but is for the best? Maybe not in all situations, but thankfully in this one… it is. This is the first installment of a small series I’m doing on divorce. 

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Marriage is a choice. Loving your partner every day is a choice. But what happens when you decide to no longer choose that? Why do you one day choose to love your partner and the next day you don’t?

It’s not so black and white as that.

People are always surprised when I tell them that I am no longer married. That my husband and I decided to end our marriage. That he moved back to AZ to be back with his family. Because on the outside we sure looked like we had our sh*t together. And yeah, for the most part we did!

But for all the things that seemed to be going well for us, there were things that were not going so well. Private things. Things we decidedly did not talk about because they really aren’t things that you talk about with people. (I may have spoken with a few very trusted friends, but overall these things were not public knowledge, nor should it have been). Things that we had been trying to deal with for years or weren’t dealing with so well for years. There were some issues that we were just never able to resolve. Issues that seemed resolved (or more accurately like they went away) only to come back up again. We talked and talked it out. We fought it out. We went to therapy. Ultimately, some of those issues we were just not able to overcome and it broke us.

Marriage is a leap of faith. You don’t know with one hundred percent certainty that you and this person that you have chosen will grow together. You don’t know that one day you won’t wake up one day and not recognize the person next to you. You are *hoping* that you will grow together and that the future you have envisioned will come to pass. That is why marriage is so d*mn scary in the first place. Because YOU DON’T KNOW.

I remember when we hit our five year anniversary of being together. Somehow I thought that we had made it. I had never reached that particular milestone with anyone before. It never occurred to me that we wouldn’t see five years of marriage. But that following year, the year leading up to our six years of togetherness, everything broke down. That can of worms we were trying to keep a lid on burst wide open. I’m not saying it broke because we hit five years. But I think hitting five years lulled me into a relaxed state of mind that maybe these issues were really over, that we were going to make it. How could we not? I’d never made it to five years!

It does make me feel sad that final year was so hard, that when we celebrated four years of marriage, it was really only a reprieve. Things had not been well for a long while before that, but we did take that one day, take ourselves out and celebrate us. But in retrospect it felt more like a last hurrah than looking ahead towards the future. I think subconsciously we knew we were on our way out. This November will mark five years and that makes me feel wistful. Also, I must admit that seeing everyone in my married group coming up on their five year wedding anniversaries makes me feel a little sad that I won’t be seeing my own. It makes me feel like maybe I didn’t choose well. It makes me wonder why I couldn’t make it work. But that is reductive thinking and unproductive on top of that. Ultimately, though, I am happy for my friends that they are in strong relationships and are doing well. We are all on our own journeys. We all have different paths to take, different lessons to learn.

I could just say that I didn’t choose well, but I think that is overly simplistic, and just not true. I did choose well. It just happened to not be my forever. But it doesn’t mean that we weren’t meant to be together or to have this experience and learn things from each other. I think our attitude about relationships as a whole is slightly reductive. Just because a relationship or a marriage doesn’t work out doesn’t automatically mean we are failures. It just means that we took a chance and that we tried.

14 thoughts on “Soleil & A Brand New Adventure”

  1. Thanks, I love this and I’m excited for the rest of the series.

    I think it was Jennifer Aniston who said that her five-year marriage wasn’t a failure. It was five, or nearly five, good years that she doesn’t regret. (Meanwhile, Brad Pitt was saying it was never a real marriage, but I digress.) Some days I wonder if I want to be married to this man, or any man, or any person. I’m still choosing to be, but it’s not an easy decision a lot of the time. There’s a lot of me that feels bored when I’m a we. If I do ever get divorced though, I won’t regret my relationship. The best moments of my life have occurred in and because of this relationship.

  2. S, You’ve wowed me with your ability to keep your heart open through this whole process and this post is a wonderful reflection of that. Lots of love to you now and always, L

  3. My parents got divorced at 29.5 years. They had been together for 35 at that point. My mom was 14 when she met my dad who was 16. They literally grew up together. He was the second oldest in a family of 8 children, and my mom pretty much helped raise his younger brothers and sister. I was 21 and living across the country when I got the news. Truth be told the last 7 or 8 years of their marriage was “hellish” to put it nicely. My father spiraled farther and farther out of control, and my mom slowly turned into herself and became a shell of a person. My brother and I got to deal with damage control and took on the different forms of abuse my dad dished out. My mom leaving my dad was the best thing that she could have done in that situation. Everyone that goes through a divorce has their own story to share. It’s not pretty, or fun, or easy. However it’s the after math – the being “free” that hopefully makes it worth the hard times. I wish the author all the best in her new adventures.

  4. Lauren, I’m really looking forward to reading this series! Thanks Soleil for speaking so honestly and openly about your experience. M and I just hit five years of relationship, three years of living together, and are three months into our engagement. There are times where I wonder what the hell I’m doing, times I wish I could just LIVE BY MYSELF DAMMIT, times where I could burst from all the happy contentment, and all sorts of other times in between. I agree so much with your statement about things being really freakin scary because you don’t know. And you have to just leap with lots of hope and faith that it will work out and lots of hard work too.

    1. I think about divorce a lot. Which sounds macabre, but is not at all. I feel like it helps me keep things in perspective. I used to be so afraid of it! Like it was a hole you could fall into, but I don’t think that’s how it works anymore. I guess there are always secret keepers and cheaters, and you can never control the actions of another – but I want to be a strong, healthy individual AND have an amazing, healthy marriage. If we ever did get divorced I want to believe (and put many of my efforts into) making that process as kind and thoughtful as possible – even with kids. ESPECIALLY with kids. I’m hoping the more this is talked about the less scary it becomes for everyone.

      1. Kids certainly make it a delicate balance. My folks divorced when I was 6 and it was thoroughly confusing because I never saw then fighting. One day everything was fine; the next my Dad lived somewhere else. For many years, I thought men just leave for no reason.

      2. yes. spot on with the hole comparison. it does seem less and less like that as i hear more from peers/as i get older and more established in my relationship. and YES!!! to kind and thoughtful with or without kids. well said.

  5. Thanks for this lovely reflective piece, Soleil (and Lauren). My mum has been divorced three times and married four times and it’s interesting the way people react to that. They see it as failure, as a sign that she shouldn’t be married again, that she somehow didn’t deserve to find love again because she’s had her fair share and it didn’t work. She doesn’t see it as failure though, which is why she keeps taking the chance and trying again for the forever one.

  6. Thank you, everyone, for all the kind words. I was a tiny bit nervous as to what the response would be, and I’m relieved that there are no pitchforks. I really appreciate being able to discuss such a difficult topic. Thank you, Lauren, for hosting me. <3

  7. Really appreciate you giving your perspective on this topic, Soleil. My mom and dad never officially divorced, but they separated after 25+ years of marriage (and many more years of knowing each other/dating). Things were never exceptional between them, based on my memories and what my mom has shared in hindsight, and I used to see their relationship as a “what not to do” (also made me hugely gun-shy about marriage in general), but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized it’s all much more nuanced than that. I don’t even see it as a failure… it served it’s purpose in many ways, and they really did make an excellent parenting team, if not great romantic partners.

    “I am generally fascinated by divorce. How does it happen? Who makes that decision? Does it pop out at you like the bogey man? When does someone know, for certain, that it is over? And how does that conversation happen? And what happens after?”

    I’m similarly fascinated by the inner-workings of marriage and divorce, Lauren. Thanks for providing a space for this conversation.

  8. Such a lovely, moving post, Soleil. When you say, “Just because a relationship or a marriage doesn’t work out doesn’t automatically mean we are failures. It just means that we took a chance and that we tried,” I instantly thought of Jack Gilbert’s “Falling and Flying.” It’s a pretty well-passed-around poem, but maybe worth sharing here, with you, in case you haven’t already read it?

    Falling and Flying (Jack Gilbert)

    Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
    It’s the same when love comes to an end,
    or the marriage fails and people say
    they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
    said it would never work. That she was
    old enough to know better. But anything
    worth doing is worth doing badly.
    Like being there by that summer ocean
    on the other side of the island while
    love was fading out of her, the stars
    burning so extravagantly those nights that
    anyone could tell you they would never last.
    Every morning she was asleep in my bed
    like a visitation, the gentleness in her
    like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
    Each afternoon I watched her coming back
    through the hot stony field after swimming,
    the sea light behind her and the huge sky
    on the other side of that. Listened to her
    while we ate lunch. How can they say
    the marriage failed? Like the people who
    came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
    and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
    I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
    but just coming to the end of his triumph.

  9. Wow, thanks for tackling this subject. Beautifully written. I look forward to the rest of the series.

    I like this part in particular:
    “I could just say that I didn’t choose well, but I think that is overly simplistic, and just not true. I did choose well. It just happened to not be my forever. But it doesn’t mean that we weren’t meant to be together or to have this experience and learn things from each other.”

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