Yesterday was my divorce day. After separating 833 days ago it came the day that wore my only court-like clothes, remembered how to walk in heels and heard those words from a judge that meant my marriage had finally come to an end. What a weird thing to happen, under any circumstances. The dress wasn't as nice, there was no catering and none of my loved ones were invited. The only similarity was I had a glass of champagne after!
It's strange to think something in your life could start out so hopeful and spiral into sitting alone in a courtroom with three A4 sheets of paper and ten strangers.
I was sad, not for myself, but for the 20-or-so other people that were in there with me. As a writer (and a human person) I am always intrigued as to other people's backgrounds and histories. I knew what had gotten me there but why were they there? How did it get to this point? They had love and backstory and children and history so what happened?
When does it go so wrong?
How do you know it's the end? For some people it's a big, flash of light and they are rocked to the core. There may have been the discovery of infidelity or an affair. They may have been suddenly surprised to learn the person they were laying next to every night wasn't who they thought they were. There may be abuse either physical or emotional.
I've often considered what would be better, to be suddenly confronted with the stark realisation that there was no way to reconcile your relationship or to slowly feel it slip away over many small incidents.
Sometimes a relationship can be over for years before it's left alone. The loneliness that comes from knowing inside your heart that there is nothing there can be stifling. But how does it compare to the instant heartbreak that is a sudden change in circumstance?
Marriage is still a strange and scary concept - we have essentially chosen this person to connect ourselves with for our life, but we have no control over them or their behaviours.
Should there be no absolute tipping point to mark the end of a relationship, sometimes it is hard to know when it's over. Maybe it's a lull. I'm sure this happens to everyone around this time. It's because of the kids or the stress of work or no alone time. All these points are so valid that sometimes it is hard to know if things would be different should you be alone, away and running on more than 5 hours sleep. Unfortunately with our lives at a busier point than ever, most couples don't get the chance to explore this.
How did they do it before?
How did they remain married for so long in previous generations? Maybe we are doing it wrong! Or maybe, it's all to do with societal attitudes towards divorce.
In the baby boomer era or the 80's/90's it was not a done thing to divorce, and studies now show that the rate of divorce in the baby boomer generation was DOUBLED since the 1990's. There are several reasons as to why this is including;
- They are living up to 30 years longer than previous generations
- There is reduced stigma surrounding divorce
- It's their time now, and they want to spend it living their best life
So gosh - if these guys can't make it stick from the years of love song ballads and drive-in movies, what hope do we have with Tinder and text dumping?!
People are ever changing and always adapting so it is a big ask that we choose someone at 22-years-old and expect to make it work with them for 70 years :O The plus side here is - it can happen!
The stories of couples making it well into their 90's are not as seldom as we think.
So much airtime is given to divorce rates and devastation but there are many beautiful lasting marriages that we can take hope (and hopefully advice ha) from.
Advice from a failure
Having incorrectly married, I will now tell you my unsolicited advice I have collected from friends and experience:
- Try counselling. It doesn't even have to be that big of an issue that has arisen. If it's something you think will eat away at you and make things worse, see someone more knowledgable than us who knows the things
- Never cross the line. There is a line in all relationships that you can never come back from. It's a slanderous remark or personal jab that is so laced with hate that you will regret saying it forevermore. It could be a jab at your partner's parent, their parenting style or simply their personality. You know when you really know a person, there are things you should just never say to them and I encourage you not to.
- Try not to seek advice from friends of the opposite sex. I KNOW it's okay to have friends of either sex and I know this is a contentious thing to say BUT I also know in the experience of anyone I have known, this is never a wise move. The emotional nature of the breakdown of a relationship can be a fragile state for a persons heart and the act of comfort is often misunderstood for love. However, if your best friend is the opposite sex and this is one of those Reese Witherspoon movies where you were always meant to be together but you just didn't see it and his mum is played by Conchata Ferrell and you live in Texas and now that the asshole ex is out of the picture you guys can discover your true love; then by all means.
- There is no secret green grass out there. If your issue is cabin fever - here's your wake up call. DATING SUCKS AND YOU DON'T MISS IT. The end.
- Marriage is bloody hard. Do not take it lightly. It takes work and time and practise and sacrifice and trust. All of the things we, as humans, have little to give. It can't be the thing that sits in the background collecting dust until you have time to look at it after work and kids and school and friends and Sims 3. It has to sit RIGHT up there prime position. You have to work hard at it.
Weddings after divorce?
Is there a future wedding for those of us that get it wrong the first time? Or why even bother? I've been asked frequently if I would marry again after. I think the journey to marriage is so inherently individual that you really can't say what the trends would be but for me my faith and Dave's feelings towards it factor in significantly.
It's easy to become bitter and anti-love in times like this (or in any times post Dawson's Creek, really) but I do believe that the idea of "forever" is still possible.
I've had friends and family successfully remarry and find bliss and I've had some never marry at all and be perfectly happy. I can understand the refusal to give in to the sentiment and the marketability of it all (I'm a cynic and non-romantic from way back) but there is something so beautifully cleansing about beginning a new life with another person (and getting to wear a nice dress and make everyone do what you say for a day). There was likely a day you stood there and took those vows believing it would be forever but the heart knows that life happens, it will heal and it will try again.
Weddings, parties and everything.
I have never been a wedding gal. I didn't think about weddings as a child, I didn't plan them and I certainly didn't really consider what mine would be like. I do love being involved in a wedding though! As maid of honour for my Aunt in 2015 and bridesmaid for my sister-in-law in 2015 - I had a chance to see how beautiful weddings and love and the whole business could be.
So I suppose if you take a fundamental nonchalance towards weddings and then add three years of a non-working marriage and two years of divorce proceedings it is a fair assumption that I would be the Grinch that stole happily ever after.
In 2017 I had the honour of attending two more very special weddings. My cousin Amy's (of which I was Maid Of Honour) and my close friend Christine's. I was probably subconsciously pre-assuming I would dislike every second of being at weddings, the idea of love and anything to do with marriage but I carried on for girl-love and powered on in.
And the funniest thing happened. I freaking loved the heck out of every second of both those damn weddings. I cried ACTUAL TEARS.
I cried in the speeches, cried in the laughing parts like an idiot with that stupid cry/laugh face you get at weddings and cried at all the other stuff you're meant to do.
It was then that I realised that just because my happily ever after wasn't ever after, or happy, doesn't meant it doesn't exist.
Now look - I know you're thinking that this is because i'm now in a healthy, happy relationship BUT seeing these wonderful marriages between these beautiful people brought so much hope and promise and security. All the good stuff I secretly craved when I laid down at night.
A new hope.
We are so hard on ourselves to make everything work all the time. We set ridiculous standards for our parenting (that's a whole other blog!) our workplace and our relationships. We give each other zero room for error before judging and blaming. There's never any way to know that something will work out 100%. You can want it, wish it, pray for it but you'll always be taking that element of a chance. So marriage - why do we keep going back for more? There's still an element of safety and oneness that is associated with marriage. There's still the idea of taking your two families and making them into one that is really quite beautiful. There's still the open and honest HOPE from both parties that this union will be one that is long-lasting that lures us in and romanticises us.
In a traditional sense, I love the idea of saying "I do" and hoping that it's forever. And hopefully it is. For us all. Although I have been told that I now have to wait my turn, haha.
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