Your Assumptions About Divorce Are Wrong
(Take it from someone who has been there.)
Today my good friend Mark published a story on Thought Catalog titled “Maybe Instead Of Shaming The Divorced, We Should Be Learning From Them”. It was one of those pieces that made furious with agreement — lots of “YES! THIS!” moments. It resonated with me deeply, in part due to the fact that I am one of the divorced friends of his that he mentions who has had to deal with the shaming and judgement from others.
When I got divorced last year (much like when I got married), I didn’t really know anyone else who had been divorced before. I didn’t have a strong support system to navigate it and the closest person to me (literally and figuratively) was the one with whom I was getting a divorce. What I learned along the way is that a good part of the reason divorce feels so isolating is because it is. People want nothing to do with you when you’re going through it. It’s confrontational for them. It brings up insecurities and it makes them question the strength and validity of their own relationships.
But most hurtful of all were the assumptions I came to learn that many have about divorced people. As a supplement to Mark’s article, I wanted to address and unpack a few of them here.
Divorce is the easy way out
Actually, it’s not. You know what the easy way out would be? Staying in a relationship (even if it’s not working). Nothing about getting divorced is easy — emotionally, financially, legally, or otherwise.
Something must have happened
Maybe! Or maybe not. In actuality, it was probably a combination of a lot of things that led to the breakdown of the relationship, even if there was one particular inciting event. As Mark said, you never know what happens behind closed doors, so instead of asking a divorced person what happened, I encourage you to assume, instead, that it’s probably not an easy or quick story. Because first of all, they don’t owe you an explanation and truthfully the more divorced people have to try to justify their decision to you, the more we perpetuate the idea that divorce is the result of 1 particular problem, rather than the complex, sad, series of personal events that it likely was.
They gave up
Nope. In fact, they’re probably already beating themselves up enough over this without your added judgement. I can assure you, they’re wondering whether they did enough, tried enough, and whether or not if they had made this decision or that decision differently in their relationship if things would have worked out. Instead of assuming they quit, try assuming instead that they exhausted other options. Assume they tried. Hard. Because for most, divorce is a last resort. As Mark said: no one gets married with the intention of getting divorced one day.
They fell out of love
God this one is the worst. In so many cases, getting divorced is the most respectful and loving thing you can do for both yourself and your partner. Even in more messy cases where there are issues such as lying and infidelity, it is still unfair to assume that the love is gone. Love doesn’t just go away… Or divorce would be a lot less painful.
As Mark said:
The divorced don’t deserve to be called the divorced, they should be called human, because that’s what they are. Just like everyone else, they have made mistakes, said the wrong thing, chosen the wrong things, and get to choose and find someone else to love them for everything that they are, just like they’ll do for their partners.
We need to stop shaming them, because we are them, they just had to sign some extra papers and probably spend a little (lot) more money.