I’m an escalator.
People can’t ride me to get to the second floor of the mall, but I’m one who tends to take a small argument and throw it out of hand rather quickly.
A conversation with my husband can easily go something like this:
Me: Hey, do you want to go see Hunger Games this weekend?
Chris: Actually, I really wanted to clean out the garage this weekend instead.
Me: FINE WHY DON’T WE JUST GET DIVORCED THEN!
Usually, this has something to do with me being hungry or hormonal or something, and he just rolls his eyes and blows me off. He knows we’re not getting divorced, and I’m just being ridiculous for a minute. Moments later, I give him a hug and a plate of nachos and tell him what time he will be joining me for the aforementioned movie. All is forgotten.
But the reality for both of us is that when we got married, it was for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, and with the understanding that if we ever started to really dislike each other for an extended period of time, and we weren’t able to make progress with counseling, that we were okay with getting a divorce.
Yes, the “D” word.
We stood in front of a huge group of our family, friends, coworkers, and God in a lavish, beautiful wedding and swore our undying love for one another with a known caveat. If our love goes Code Blue, and we’re unable to revive it with basic CPR measures, we will gracefully let it die.
I come from a family that doesn’t “do” divorce. My Grandparents were married for sixty-some years before my Grandma passed away. My mom and dad were married for 24 years when my dad passed away. My aunts and uncles are all married to their original spouses, some of whom they’ve been with since they were in grade school. Marriage is forever, and they’re all still very much in love.
We’ve all seen the spouses who clearly hate each other, though. The ones who only speak to one another if it’s to nag or to bicker or to demean one another. We’ve seen the couples that stay together “for the kids”, because their religion condemns divorce as evil, or because they’re simply too exhausted to start over. These couples are married, sure, but are they even really together?
We’ve also seen the couples who aren’t married, but have been together for many happy years. Nowadays, it’s commonplace to see unmarried couples choosing to own homes together, raise children together, and live as a married couple would—without the contractual obligation. This may not have the romantic idealism of a traditional marriage, but it’s possible that it’s an entirely more realistic way to approach life with a partner.
To me, a toxic marriage, held together for children or for tradition’s sake, can be incredibly damaging to both partners (and especially to children). By modeling an unhappy relationship, surely we’re causing more damage than we would by just going our separate ways and finding happiness outside of each other. There really shouldn’t be any shame in needing to hit the reset button if things go beyond a salvageable level of damage. People change, and sometimes they grow apart. That’s just reality
I’m happy in my marriage. I picked a great husband, father, and partner, and I believe genuinely that we’ll be together forever. Marriage wasn’t a choice that I took lightly, and it wasn’t something I embarked on with cynicism or expectation that it would one day fail. Both my husband and I expect ups and downs, and to have to work at being happy. But if, someday, the best option for us is divorce, then I won’t beat myself up over that either. Ultimately, the best thing we can do for ourselves (and for our children) is to choose a life of happiness.
How has your own view of marriage evolved since you said “I do?”
image via public-domain-image