Ever-Changing Reflection

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding... It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self. Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility.
~ Kahlil Gibran

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Writer's Workshop: Divorce

Let's talk about an ugly topic: divorce. Last year, the CDC reported a divorce rate of 3.5 per 1,000 population (from 44 reporting states plus Washington, D.C.). That is out of a marriage rate of 7.1 per 1,000. To me, that looks like roughly 50 percent of U.S. marriages end in divorce, still.

To me, this looks like too many people got married for the wrong reasons, took the easy way out, gave up, didn't believe, aren't religious, or, in the worst case, were in abusive relationships. To me, this looks like our country doesn't value marriage. 

I would like to see that number down near 10 percent of marriages ending in divorce, and I will not make that a zero because I realize that sometimes people change, for the worse, or that some people are manipulative and hide their true selves until they think they have someone "stuck." This has been the case in some of the divorces in my family: two of my aunts were married to abusive men (not necessarily physical, there are other forms of abuse). This is the only reason for divorce I support, and the Catholic Church supports this as well.

Divorce is not a do-over. You cannot make a vow to commit your life and yourself to someone and break it because "it isn't working" or "you don't love your spouse anymore." These things need to be worked out before you say "I do." I think that's part of the reason I'm turning 29 in two months, and I'm not married. I'm not even engaged, and the weightiness of marriage has something to do with that, on both sides of my relationship. I want to walk down the aisle without a doubt in my mind, because once I get up there and take my man's hand in marriage, it is forever -- 'til death do us part.

I have had a great example of marriage set for me by my parents. My parents have been through thick and thin together. They love each other completely and unconditionally. They support each other, listen to each other and help each other. They have always taught me that divorce is not an option. 

I think it was Dr. Phil who wrote that most problems in a relationship have to do with the person perceiving the problem. Meaning, even if you ditch the relationship, the problem will follow you into your relationship with the next person. I had never thought about this perspective before, but it makes sense if you really think about it. Relationships are not one-sided. Problems are shared, and therefore, you are as much of the cause as you are the solution. This has helped me think about my own relationship differently. It is a cause and effect; if I don't like something my partner does, I should look at what I'm doing; chances are, I'm influencing my partner's negative behavior in some way. (Again, this does not apply to an abusive relationship. I am in no way saying that someone in an abusive relationship should bear the blame.)

People have asked me about pre-nuptial agreements. At first, I thought this was something only the rich and famous did before tying the knot, but now I realize that many more people do, and I think this vastly affects the percentage at the beginning of this post. A pre-nup offers a way out, without sacrifice. This is not what marriage is or should be. I refuse to go into marriage with a pre-nup because, to me, that action creates the mindset that divorce is an option, and for me, it isn't. Again, I'm not going into a marriage already considering its demise. Where is the love and romance in that? 

I'm sure many people will disagree with this post, so please comment, but do so respectfully. I certainly respect both sides of the argument, but after years of thinking about this and witnessing divorce first-hand, I've formed my opinion, which I will note has a lot to do with my religious background and my romantic ideals.

This post was inspired by:
Prompt #2: Divorce Dreams…a tempting alternative? A disaster to be avoided? Ever an option? Advice? What’s your take?


Classic Passion said...

Very well written, I think that divorce is too easy and therefore can be seen as the first point of call. It is a necessary evil

Summer Athena said...

I agree with you but I also have seen a lot of people try very hard and do all they can to make their marriage work (counseling, time away, trips together, babies) and they still go their separate ways in the end. Sometimes love just fades away and love is a very important aspect of a marriage and if it disappears, it is hard to get it back.

Just me two cents.

Shannon said...

Yes 50% of marriages end in divorce but that still means that 50% last. I agree that many people don't take marriage seriously and use divorce as a quick fix. For me divorce is not an option except in the case of abuse or infidelity. People change and love changes but marriage takes work and I think so long as both people know that going in and are willing to do the work any marriage can last.

Cheryl said...

Good for you. I posted on a different prompt in the workshop, but one of the things I say is no one should get married before they're 30. I have many friends who have had "starter" marriages in their 20s that lasted a year or two. Their kids from their second marriages don't even know they were married before! It's crazy!

At 29, I didn't even have a prospect for a date, let alone marriage. Twelve years later I have a great husband and three kids. Waiting for the right thing is brilliant and don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

Melissa said...

Very well said. A lot of people take the idea of divorce for granted... it's always there, so who cares if our marriage falls apart? We'll just get divorced. It gives people a sense of comfort in doing something they'd otherwise regret or just didn't feel right. I wish more people would take their time and really know what they want before rushing into marriage. They should take more time trying to deal with their issues too, once divorce is in question. It's all about time and work... not an easy fix.

Alicia said...

amen sister! i am so with you on this...there are definitely cases where divorce is totally understandable, but more often than not, its people not willing to put the work in. i'm in it for the long haul. i made a vow and i'm stickin to it!

Kelsey @ Seattle Smith's said...

What a great topic!! It is so so true and a huge problem in society. The point on a pre-nup being a way out is well said, and I would never ever sign one (even if I wasn't married)