It’s happened again. Another couple we’ve known and loved announced the big D-Word: Divorce.
As a child raised in a nuclear family around other nuclear families, divorce was a word we heard on TV. It was almost akin to the cuss words my parents muted whilst watching films like “Hook.” Sure, I knew a few kids at school whose parents had split, but that wasn’t close. That wasn’t real.
As an adult, however, my perspective is quite different. Why? Well, frankly, because that ol’ D-Word has come up in conversation with my own spouse. As in, applied to us. As in, “What; do you want a divorce?”
Mature, I know.
Now, divorce is not always a villain. It is often a very good idea. I have a close friend for whom The Split was necessary for the welfare of herself and her children, and that was mostly from an emotionally abusive aspect.
In other cases, however, I can see it for what it is: giving up early.
My husband and I know this because we chose to fix our relationship. We chose counseling, to try and follow the counseling, and to try to work on us every day. And believe me, it’s not like the movies. If we don’t do our ‘homework,’ the counselor’s advice does not work.
Countless hours and advice and helpful correction has helped enlighten me. I’ve realized that love goes through stages. From my own perspective, they are:
- The Honeymoon Stage. When you’re dating, flirting, or first married you don’t have to really try to love. I thought the husband and I didn’t have this going into marriage because we dated a while and knew each other pretty well. Believe me; we still did.
- I’m making these up, but I’d call this The First Itch. The wife sees an old friend or a new boss. Husband sees a hot young thing at the office. You’ve still got your good looks and vitality and someone else seems interested. You still love your spouse but the attention is sure flattering. And tempting.
- Mid-marriage slump. Remember when I said I didn’t think we had that first stage? I know we did, because we’ve entered this third period with definite feelings of dislike at times. The love that came naturally, the one that simmered in the background all the time -even while we had newlywed fights- is absent. Why? Because we are not trying to feel it.
- I’d guess that one or two other stages come next, like Midlife Crisis and Reconnection. I’m not positive since we’re not there yet.
- Acceptance and Mature Perspective. I think this is the age we all hope to get to, the one older couples are at. They’ve seen all the warts, moved past all the warts, and decided the warts are not what matters after all. They’re mature and their love is mature.
As the number of divorces climbs to a point of shrugged acceptance, I see patterns of behaviors in those who choose it. Most often the pattern is that one or both parties wants the constant feeling of Stage 1. When love isn’t exciting or doesn’t just happen any more, surely that means they are “out of love.” Surely that means “we just drifted apart” or “we realized we didn’t have much in common after all.”
I know an older couple who raised seven children together and went through a #2 Stage after #3. What happened? She forgave him. He repented, reformed, and is a much different husband to her now. They literally have little in common regarding shared interests but they sit by each other holding hands, each with his own set of headphones, each watching his own show on his own television.
Now that there is love.
C’mon, people. Try harder. Stop looking at Happily Ever After stories as fantasy. They’re not. You just may need to slay a few dragons or journey to find the lost stone before you’ll (again) win that princess.
It’s not easy. It’s not. You both have to work. You both have to know what’s most important. You both have to think a little bit about the future. I mean, do you really want to end up with only a trail of broken relationships to look back on; or do you want to share retirement (and possibly grandchildren) with a sweet, old person who understands you?
Here’s what I wrote this past week:
Sunday, May 19: My procrastinating son inspired me to write “Special Projects Take a Lot of Time and Mess.”
Monday, May 20: Wrote “A Poem, I Think.”
Tuesday, May 21: Shared a quote by James Baldwin.
Wednesday, May 22: Suggested fancifying your food for littles.
Thursday, May 23: “Don’t Forget Your…,” a snippet about my forgetful boys.
Friday, May 24: “Mom, What Can I Do?,” a post about taking a quick hour for your kids.
Saturday, May 25: Shared TwinzerDad‘s tweet about being an example, technically on Sunday.
Sunday, May 26: That’s today!