Happily Ever After Is Possible, but It Requires an Epic Journey

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.

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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?

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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!

 

Photo Credits:
Henry Hustava
Hannah Busing
Marisa Howenstine

 

© 2019 Chelsea Owens

Raise Strong, Independent Daughters AND Mothers

I am the product of many strong, brave women throughout history. Women no one ever knew toiled day in and out at the most mundane of tasks to get their daughters just that much ahead in life, only to have the pattern repeat for a few centuries more.

Women with names we now laud stepped from the shoulders of those mothers to stand for rights, demand votes, insist on admission to colleges and professions, and to study and alter laws once named ‘fair.’

Although ignorant of the nameless women of history, I am not without appreciation for the starting position they gave me. I only ever felt encouraged to do whatever I set my mind to as a child; encouraged to be myself; encouraged to do anything or dress any way or play any games I wanted to.

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And, for a while, I could do whatever a boy could do. I wanted to, since I have never been much into dress up or celebrity gossip. I determined to live for myself, alone and independent. I wasn’t afraid of snakes and could open jars; I could do anything.

I thought that teaching girls to have limitless goals was a great idea… until I became a mother.

It’s no secret that I didn’t want to be a mother. If it is, then you’ve missed the name of this blog and a few, key blog posts. To clarify: I’m not mad that I’m a mother. I don’t feel the desire to leave my children in a basket on a porch. Not really. I simply did not ever plan to be just a mother and looked/look down on the profession.

I’ve not quite pinned down the reasons for my dissatisfaction yet; otherwise, I’d probably not keep writing. Recently, however, I have resonated with the idea that motherhood disappointed me because of that ‘girl power’ upbringing.

-I was told I could be a doctor and had the intellect for it.

-When I said I wanted to be President of the United States of America, teachers and school counselors cheered.

-At college meetings, no one batted an eye when I registered for engineering and science programs.

-I remember conversations with professors, guidance counselors, neighbors, friends, and family where, when asked about my future, they never mentioned motherhood.

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HOWEVER, life changed. All my goals and plans went out the window. The determined spinster that was me fell in love in high school, married after a semester at college, and started producing babies within a few years after that. No matter, right?

-With what was left of my brain, I told myself I could still do medical school.

-I didn’t actually want to be POTUS; politics were more complicated than people told children.

-I could take a break from engineering courses and finish them up after the kids grew a little.

-Motherhood wasn’t that bad. (Female) people did it all the time.

Suffice to say, I was a teensy bit unprepared for the emotional and mental car crash of stay-at-home motherhood after a young marriage and fairly young pregnancy. I was unprepared for a fairly young servitude of diapers, schedules, and (above all) the whims of my offspring.

I think I’d set aside motherhood as a contingency plan, or maybe as an idea that it would “probably happen.” I had not realized how much of a lifetime commitment the profession was, particularly if one has difficult children. Maybe, like my ultimate life goal of never doing chores, I was simply ignorant.

Or, maybe, we’ve shifted too far away from encouraging what every woman used to aspire to.

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I know the future is brighter for females. I am so happy that we can gain entry and employment to nearly everywhere. I definitely appreciate not being talked down to when I converse with a doctor or a mechanic. As I said earlier, I loved feeling free to do anything.

But I’m afraid that we’ve killed motherhood.

I don’t think I would have minded more sewing lessons in school. What about cooking and cleaning courses? Scheduling? Budgeting? Basic interpersonal marriage counseling? -All good. Overall, though, what we’re really missing is the expectation of families and the support needed to make them work.

Where once there were mother’s coffee groups and communal play areas of apartments, there is social media and day care. Church classes and community events have been replaced with atheism, apathy, and selfishness. People lock their doors, install security systems, and watch any visitors -even their own next-door neighbors- through door cameras.

When I ask my neighbors with daughters about their children’s futures, they do not list family production. It is always college, discovering themselves, and changing the world. Talking to the girls themselves produces a similar answer.

Can’t we have strong females and good mothers? Well-adjusted parents who feel they have societal support? Good children who are raised by responsible and loving parents? Mom groups? Community events that want children around?

Being a mom sucks. I know. But, the only way to change the world is the same way our female progenitors did: raising children for the future.

 

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Weekly Round-up:

Sunday, April 14: “Religion in the Home,” a post about religion in the home.

Monday, April 15: Really proud of my poem, “A House(work) at War.”

Tuesday, April 16: Shared a quote by Ray Romano.

Wednesday, April 17: Offered a Food Tip.

Thursday, April 18: “Reasoning with a Toddler,” a quick thought about unreasonable toddlers.

Friday, April 19: Felt inspired to share some vacation tips with “10 Tips for When You’re Crazy Enough to Vacation with Kids.”

Saturday, April 20: Shared Feeling‘s encouraging tweet.

Sunday, April 21: Happy Easter!

 

Photo Credits:
Kenny Krosky
Eye for Ebony
Zac Durant