This seems to be a major theme ripping through parts of my little blogger circle (See Desmond, Christian Husband, Desperate Husband and Aphron) and since I can’t help but think I’ve sort of inspired some of their thoughts, I’ll speak more directly to it.
First off, I’m in agreement with most of what most of the the gentlemen above have written on the subject. I believe marriage is intended for life. I believe God hates divorce. I believe it is harmful to children. I believe it is rare that an intact marriage is more harmful to children than a broken one.
And so it is that divorce has never been option #1, #2 or even #3 for me. But let’s be honest; it still makes the list only it doesn’t place high enough to put money on it. There are many things I’ve tried and still many I have yet to try. At the same time I’ve entertained the thought in my mind and tried to imagine what it might be like and tried to carry the scenario through. I just have a hard time seeing good come out of it. I suppose anything can eventually come out for the good just as things that start out good can eventually turn to shit.
I see divorce as a nuclear option in the marital relationship. Liz Taylor and Richard Burton aside, filing usually results in fantastical feelings of feverish fury. For some reason, at least one person in every couple seems to have the need to be an asshole. There are feelings of hurt and betrayal and perhaps envy and jealousy.
I like to have a blog or two in my blogroll where the folks are going through a divorce just as a reference. Right now, Artful Dodger is the lone holder in that category, although Desperate Husband, Always Aroused Girl and Freebird are all moving in that general direction. I have tracked several bloggers over the past couple of years as well as people I know in real life. It is NEVER as easy as it looks and it always takes longer than you think before it’s over.
Arwyn’s father is going through his second divorce. It’s been over a year and they are just now wrapping things up. It really was a very nasty affair with the woman trying to dig into his pockets as deep as she could despite the fact that she was able to put her entire paycheck for the last 25 years into savings because he paid all the bills.
Donald and Gina have given a little better look as they were married a week after we were. Donald, despite making a 6 figure salary plus having all expenses paid, is being a savage heathen when it comes to his ex-wife and son. He basically tried to empty the house of its contents and leave them with nothing. As it is, they both sleep on mattresses on the floor in a modest ranch style house, while he just bought another big house and has all the furniture. Except for the purple couch. They are still fighting over a purple couch and they are each paying large sums of money to an attorney to get a judge to rule on who gets custody of a purple couch.
Divorce robs people of whatever sense they had before and they end up being petty, mean and spiteful. Children end up getting the short shrift. There really is no way to spare or shield children from it. In Donald and Gina’s case, the poor boy is used as a pawn to gain leverage or advantage. Donald wants joint custody simply to not pay child support. But it isn’t joint custody at all as Gina has the boy most of the time.
As far as Arwyn’s dad, it still affects the kids. For one thing, his X put a lien on all the property so she gets it before the kids do. There goes their inheritance. He has a lien on property she owns but she doesn’t have any kids. The sad thing is, they each are hoping the other dies first. Let’s see, he has a history of heart problems and is 15 years older. OTOH, she is a full-fledged drunk which is sapping her health. Bets anyone?
Arwyn’s parents divorced when she was a about 15, and her mother never remarried. Her mother lives in Florida in government housing, and now can get along with her father fairly well. I think they do talk on the phone on occasion. Back when they were together, Arwyn’s father was the one who was the alcoholic.
Anyway, the seeds of our problems were likely sown in the wake of her parent’s divorce. My parents have been married for almost 44 years. Can you imagine? My Dad’s parents were married for almost 65 years before Grandpa passed away. My mother’s parents were married for about 50 years before Grandma died even though Grandpa’s parents were divorced (in an Irish Catholic church, no less!) when he was very young.
This is the thing: I know a lot of people who have been divorced. I’ve dated a few of them. Divorce does not make people bad and it is not a sign of some special weakness. Shit happens. It only takes one person of the two to be determined to make a divorce happen for it to occur. It’s like involuntary celibacy; one person gets all the power. It’s actually more of a wonder that there are not more divorces than there are today. Why aren’t we all more like Britney Spears or other people in Hollywood?
God does not like it, and I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who got married with the intention of getting a divorce later. A lot of things happen in the world that God doesn’t like but they happen anyway. We are weak and frail beings and prone to temptations and mistakes. It’s such a part of our flesh to not want to commit and sacrifice and struggle and go through pain and suffering. But we end up putting ourselves through more in an attempt to escape and avoid it.
With a 50% divorce rate in the U.S., it is something that has touched all of us through parents, siblings, children and friends. It cuts through the entire fabric of our society socially and economically.
I’ll go ahead and extend the divorce topic a bit more by talking a bit about couples who have children with disabilities. The divorce rate there is at about 80% for these parents. Indeed, an intact family with children of disabilities is a much rarer thing. I do know a few, but even among them I can tell you that there are problems and struggles. Talk all of the problems associated with raising a normal child and multiply them many fold. Think about the additional financial stress, the physical drain of the extra time and work involved and just issues of acceptance and denial. The president of the Autism Society of America, Lee Grossman, is a member of the divorce club. Look at some of the folks we know; Celibate Husband, Cinnamon, Cat, Summer and Confused. I think there are a few more, especially among the lurkers. All of us dealing with similar issues of health and behavior of our children. Most of us have fairly young children under the age of 10. Will those of us still married today remain so 10 years from now? According to statistics, perhaps one couple might still survive intact but even then the odds are even that that couple will suffer a great deal more dysfunction if not marital dissatisfaction.
Faith in God is one issue that many have brought up. However I have come across some sources that cite and even higher divorce rate among those identifying themselves as evangelical Christians than those who do not. Clearly there is a disconnect between what we say we believe and what we actually do. And don’t be all that surprised. I think the more vociferously we assert our opposition to a habit or choice the more vulnerable we are to it. Just like the head of Evangelical Christians and various clergy people leading double lives as far as sexuality. Now they are judged by the same measure they judged others, aren’t they?
And so it is with divorce. I do entertain the thought sometimes. I am not in favor of it for a variety of reasons but I am so not condemning others for finding themselves in that circumstance. I don’t condone every choice, and but I’m not clubbing a body for it.
Desperate Husband is the best example I can think of who seems to have inspired the best and worst in people on several of these levels. Do I think he’s making the best decisions? No. The man is hurt, wounded and suffering and is just not seeing anything straight. I identify with so much of it and he’s fallen for an Online Friend who is meeting needs his wife can not and will not. Various commenters (mostly anonymous women) have verbally ripped him to shreds. I suspect many of them have been on the blunt side of a relationship like this. But they can not heal their own wounds by making him feel worse. And calling him a jackass or a whoremonger is hardly going to help him deal with his pain.
The pain of abandonment and rejection is unlike anything else, and this is at the core of what we’re talking about.
While I have most recently entertained separation as a very viable alternative, I do not equate this with divorce. Divorce is an entirely different thing, in my opinion. I view separation as actually creating distance while still keeping the door open for reconciliation. Divorce, with the judge, the lawyers, police, custody…all of these merely add to the friction and hostility. I’m curious as to why more couples don’t do separation before going for the big ‘D’.
The prevailing belief is that marriage should be for life. Indeed, the vows most couples exchange pretty much state that the couple will remain together until parted by death. And I have more or less mused about this alternative, as well. In many ways, my smoking was maintained by this very negative point of view that the only honorable way to get out of the marriage was to die. But even then, I can just hear the harpies opining on about how this is also a cowardly way to avoid responsibilities. Even in death, a man has no escape from such judgment.
-If a man seeks comfort from another woman, he is a cheat.
-If a man divorces, he is abandoning his responsibility.
– If he voices his dissatisfaction, he is whining.
– If he dies, he is abandoning his family and avoiding responsibility.
The only way seems to be to suffer in silence, which is the way most men choose. Living what Thoreau referred to as “lives of quiet desperation.”
Divorce is not a good thing, but it exists and God knew that it would exist. It existed within a few generations of the first marriage. The first divorce between a gay couple took place less than a year after marriage was legalized in Canada.
Perhaps the whole concept of marriage needs to be discussed more. Because without marriage, divorce can not exist.