Divorce is death.
It’s the death of who you wanted to be. It’s the death of your plans and who you thought you were. It’s letting go of specific dreams for your future and accepting the death of a relationship. It’s a time to grieve and reflect on your past choices and your future path. If you’ve ever been around a divorce it can be hard to know what to do to support. It’s hard to know what to think.
When I began the process of divorce, I had so many thoughts and emotions about why things didn’t work out. I thought about what I wanted for my future and what was best for both of us in the long run. Was the pain of divorce worth the longer lasting pain of staying together? For many it is. I worried a lot about what people thought and had to endure so many opinions and assumptions as to why it didn’t work out.
The most obvious reasons are often ignored in favor of blame. One thing I’ve learned since my own divorce is that anyone who chooses divorce is most likely doing so for real and valid reasons. It’s easy when you’re on the outside looking in to assume that the problems are all easily fixed.
While the reasons for separation and ultimately divorce can be varied and heartbreaking so can the transition from being a joined “one” back to a single individual. For some it’s gradual and for others, it’s a sudden jarring experience, sometimes it’s mutual and other times it’s inflicted. However it happens, it’s painful and complicated.
Once in a while, I’ll hear or see some trite advice or post on how to avoid divorce or simply comparing divorce to quitting. I’m a firm believer in preparing as much as possible for marriage and while there are many ways to avoid and prevent separation and divorce there is also a lot needed to make a relationship work. I’ve decided that most people don’t have the tools, outside of counseling and learning, to really give marriage what it needs to thrive. Unless they’ve had the best examples in their lives, people are pretty much unprepared and on their own unless they seek help. Some of what people believe to be a great example of marriage is skewed or based on superficial success such as the number of years together or how much fun they appear to be having. Sometimes the inner reality of marriage could be unhealthy characteristics such as neediness, dead hopes, abuse, or fear of being alone. To have a healthy relationship you need two vulnerable imperfect people willing to be submitted to one another and who are committed to becoming the best that they can be.
Brokenness isn’t something you can rush through. You need to really know yourself and be on a healing journey before you get married and even after you get married you need to be open to hearing that what you thought about yourself may not be true.
Outside of thriving relationships, there are those who choose to nestle into their pain, put up with the worst and die within themselves to avoid the shame and death of separation and divorce. People have good and bad reasons for staying. As a friend, you can always choose to be there for someone but you can’t force them down a path you think they should take because you don’t agree with their relationship. They have to be ready for what it takes to either stay or walk away.
To be continued