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.
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.