June 1, 2015

Divorce. Marriage. Does it even matter?

Yesterday, I heard that two more couples I know have split. In that past six months, there have been five separations in my wider social group; in the past year, nine.

Now, you'd think that as a divorced woman I'd be delighted to hear of more women and men joining my ranks. More people like me! We're everywhere!

But in fact it deeply saddens me. I still very much want to believe that relationships can last the distance, that some people are gloriously happy in their marriages - or, at least, happy enough.

It's strange that this is so important to me. I am someone who fiercely believes that the value of relationships is not related to their length. A relationship is not invalid because it doesn't last forever. Some of my greatest friendships, and indeed my greatest romantic love, did not last forever. The fact that they had a shelf life doesn't at all change the profound impact those people had on my life, the tears and the laughter we exchanged, the support we offered each other, the experiences we shared together.

And yet I still want to know that some loves can last forever. I adore the idea of friendships spanning an entire life. I feel happy when I see an elderly couple holding hands and learn they have been together for seventy years.

I know some very happily married people and their happiness really does elevate me. There is something almost magical about a couple happily in love after twenty, thirty years. They are like a touchstone, proof to me that love can endure over time.

And every time I learn of another separation I feel pained, particularly when they are a couple I had thought were well suited. I feel sad for the kids, I feel sad for another lost touchstone, and, most of all, I feel sad for the partners. I know what they're about to go through. I know how rough it is.

Sometimes I even feel frustrated. When a person tells me that their ex is still their 'best friend', I don't quite understand why they would split. Wouldn't it be brilliant to be married to your best friend? Isn't everything else fixable? But I know - or at least, I remind myself - that separation is never the easy alternative. It comes at a huge price - socially, emotionally, and financially. No-one chooses separation without very good reason.

So tell me. Are you in a long term happy marriage? Do you know someone who has been happily married forever? Is there hope for marriage? And - most significantly - does it even matter???

19 comments:

  1. I'm 8 months into separation. I believe this is called the anger phase.

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  2. I've only been married 15 months, but I married a man I've been friends with (and occasionally more than friends), since I was 13. We have our challenges. For him it is a second marriage, for me my first and only. We both have kids in their 20s, and we both face opposition from our respective families. We managed a long distance relationship during my diagnosis and treatment of Breast Cancer. We know each other so well, that it's easier I suppose, to weather the storms. We never go to bed angry, and we never leave the house without a kiss. At 48 and 51, we won't see our Golden Anniversary, but we will be together "until death do us part"!

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  3. Married eight years, together 10. Mostly very happy. One beautiful cherub. I'm blessed despite the other shit I have to live with ie chronic illness.
    I once had a bad split. It was brutal. I called it the Great War of 2003. Like Kim, I was angry but now I realise it was a very close call. I got a second chance & we don't often get many of those. We weren't married but the impact of the split was massive. It changed me as a person, in some ways better, in others worse.

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  4. I know that one. The only thing that worked was running in the bush like a mad woman. xxx

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  5. I got divorced last year. My ex and I were married for 11 years but separated for nearly 8 of them. I hardly remember being married to him. We were a terrible partnership but make not-terrible friends now.

    I'm the first person in my family to do this. My grandparents were married for 62 years, and my parents have been married for 44 years.

    I've been with my current partner for 7 years. He is my heart and soul. If I had remained married (and unhappy) I would have never had this kind of profound love. When we first met, I thought we might have that kind of flash-in-the-pan, quick-burn love, but we haven't. We might get married. If we do, it will be with every intention of being forever, but knowing that life is complicated and people and things change and sometimes that means the other things have to change. Before I got divorced, that idea horrified me. Now, I'm much more philosophical about it. I would love to have a love that lasts forever. I'm also very grateful to have this much love for now.

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  6. I'm separated. Divorcing in October. I honestly don't believe I'm "built" for the long haul. And I didn't marry the love of my life, either.

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  7. I didn't know that Kim. I'm sorry. It's fucked. I PROMISE it gets better. I absolutely promise you xxxxx

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  8. I remember wandering around my apartment. Just wandered. I think I was trying to work out where I was.

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  9. That is so beautiful to read. Thank you for sharing that with me!

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  10. Yes. I think splits really do change you. They rock the very foundations of who you are. IN good and bad ways. YES.

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  11. I am just SO happy for you that you've found that. SO happy. xx

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  12. I think we marry for different reasons. And we divorce for different reasons, too. Love to you, as always x

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  13. Brilliant post.. Makes me sad that you had to write it but it's the underlying thoughts you raise that I agree with. I too am noticing so many more of my kids' friends separating after marriages which have seemed to be ok (good jobs, house etc) & kids produced .. Yet, they are breaking up. My DD is single after one marriage ended (her choice) & 3 kids.. A second relationship floundered due to health issues yet another child is affected. I cannot answer this other then by puzzlement. We, hub & I, married 44 years ago & have had more than our share of ups:downs including chronic ill health for him for 30 + years & business failure & house loss due to business.. Yet we remain in love more than ever & are finally relishing some couple time since leaving Sydney to discover what our life might look like as 65+ year olds & we are each other's best friends. I think we have always remembered what sparked our love at first sight waaaaay back in 1970 ' it's the glue that's kept us going! D xx

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  14. I had one of those too Sawhole. That's a good description Kerri - about it rocking the foundations. I always think bad break-ups tilt your world off its axis and you don't quite know where to put yourself for a time. Mine was pretty cataclysmic but years later I'm so glad I went through it. I learned so much about myself, about resilience and survival. Also it brought me to where I am now - married with a bubba. It's my longest relationship yet (together 8 years, married 4). Touch wood!

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  15. It's interesting that you post this now, as it is something that I have been thinking about a bit lately. At the end of this month, my wife and I will be celebrating our 41st anniversary. As you may remember, most of that time (more than 35 years) has been dealing with her extreme OCD/Fear/Anxiety. So many times I have had a hard time remaining, but I have. (Obviously there is more of a story that goes with this, but for our purposes here - this is enough.) Yet, we may just get to the last day of the month and number 41.

    But I have noticed the very high rate of separation and divorce among my Aussie friends and have wondered about that. Perhaps there is more to meet the eye than simple numbers? Perhaps changes in society itself has something to do with it? In the US, there was a time when I was younger that divorces were so high that they exceeded the marriages. In NYS alone, a state which once made it so difficult to divorce that it was simply unheard of, changes in laws produced a surge in the divorce rate. In the 60's and 70's marriages seemed to be so flimsy that the least little thing resulted in a divorce. That is no longer the case. Separations and divorces still happen of course, but not at the rate that was seen back then. The pendulum has swung back. Could this be the case in Australia? Could this be why so many of my friends there have divorced/separated in the years that I have known them?

    Perhaps only looking back in a number of years will give the answer.

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  16. The Rhonnifer and I have known each other for 23 years now :)


    And we are a classic example of the fact that love can be found in uncommon relationships...

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  17. My grandparents have been married 72.5 years. All you have to do is survive a World War together it would seem.

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  18. Lana (Sharpest Pencil)June 2, 2015 at 5:28 PM

    I've been married forever ans I love him more now than ever. But that doesn't mean every day is easy. Or love filled.

    My love for you on the other hand - ......

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  19. My mum and step-dad have been married for 26 years, together 31 years. It is her third marriage though. Sometimes it takes some time to find the right one. And we are lucky in a way to be able to have long term relationships without marriage these days I think, my mum was married for the first time at 19. I also believe that failed marriages don't make you a failure, at all. Life is one long learning journey.

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