The Unbelievers

Search for “divorce” on Twitter, and you find countless posts like the following:

don’t believe in divorce….when me and my partner have problems we will sit down, talk and work it out! Commitment for life

As though one can make divorce not real simply by pretending it doesn’t exist. I hate to break it to them, but divorce is kinda like gravity’s impact on an aging body; it exists whether you want to admit it or not.

I didn’t believe in divorce either. I believed in commitment. In working things out. In staying together. However, my husband did not feel the same way.

The problem with the Twitter quote above is that it completely neglects to acknowledge your partner’s view and actions, neither of which are under your jurisdiction.

You may not believe in divorce but if your partner stops believing in the marriage, you’ll change your mind real fast.

I try to remember that these statements are coming from ignorance and a lack of exposure. These are people who have not been touched by divorce. These are people that believe that promises made can never be broken. These are people who think that their wishes are strong enough to ward off any unwanted situations.

I both envy and pity them.

I was them.

I had that certainty, that confidence in my marriage. I believed that divorce couldn’t happen to me because I didn’t want it to. I didn’t realize that my husband had developed a different view. My certainty that it couldn’t happen to me meant that I was blindsided. I was betrayed, not only by my husband, but also by my beliefs.

I worry about those who believe that it can never happen to them. I hope they are right and they never face the pain of lives torn apart. However, I worry that many of them will realize that belief is not enough to hold a marriage together.

The most difficult aspect of any relationship is the acceptance that your partner is an individual with his or her own thoughts and actions. You cannot control them. You cannot change them. All you can do is love them and embrace them while being the best you can be.

Maybe instead of saying, “I don’t believe in divorce,” it should be, “I believe in doing everything possible on my side to ensure that we do not divorce and I hope that you can do the same.”

Now that’s something I can believe in.

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22 thoughts on “The Unbelievers

  1. Makes for a less concise motto, but I’m with you 100%!

    I’m still newly divorced, and even I still wonder how it happened. Like most kids, I was raised under the assumption that the perfect marriage was inevitable. The focus of finding true love trumped all thoughts of nurturing and maintaining that love.

    I’m not sure whether the general defiance encountered on Twitter (and beyond) is a bad thing to be honest; I think it’s simply a reflection of someone unscathed/untested (like listening to high-school kids preach with 100% confidence about what they are going to do with their lives).

    There are those among us who will never know the stress of a career change or the pain of divorce. They will always be a little bit more ignorant, but there are days when I long for the bliss that ignorance brings.

  2. Oh wow. I LOVE THIS and totally relate! I absolutely didn’t believe in divorce either. Then, like you said, I discovered I couldn’t control/fix/save my ex husband, and what do you know? I had to believe in divorce, or otherwise be lonely and miserable.

  3. Married twenty years, I figured I could make it to 50, but what I didn’t count on is my soul screaming for change. I got tired of carrying him on my back along with my kids and all of the other responsibilities. He was king of the castle and figured as long as he provided, he was fulfilling his role in our marriage. Did I take divorce lightly? No. Did I suffer from guilt for putting my kids through the divorce? Yes. Do I ultimately regret the divorce- hell, NO! My kids deserved peace, and our household was no longer peaceful. I deserved to be supported emotionally, not just financially. I look at the man I spent twenty years with, today, and he is a stranger to me. I do not remember him, except as a vague shadowy figure clinging to the edges of our lives.

    1. You hit the nail on the head when you said: “I both envy and pity them.”

      I was one of them too before my husband’s affair. I learned through his affair that the only person I can control is me. I am choosing to forgive but that is an every day committment too.
      Thank you–great post.

  4. I ditto Intransition. No-one gets married thinking about divorce. The word wasn’t even in my dictionary but something had to be done to keep my sanity and to protect my daughter from a poisoned life. Outstanding post!

  5. I always say, there are many things people call a marriage. And those who refuse an actual divorce, while living in a relationship that is dead and/or demeaning–I have news for them–they’re divorced in the worst possible way. From life, from love, from themselves.

  6. I have a facebook friend who, about twice a year, posts a photo of an elderly couple and words to this effect: “We come from a time when if something was broken, you didn’t throw it away, you fixed it.”
    I always ignore these posts, but want to comment “they come from a time when women had NO financial independence, no options and were stuck!”

  7. Totally agree. I didn’t want to be divorced, either. But in the end it was I who left. Thanks for sharing such insight!

  8. Noone gets married with the thought “I hope we divorce” in their mind, but the reality is that people are not static, we grow and change. While I don’t advocate divorce as an easy solution (try and work it out – after all you married this person for a reason!), its sometimes necessary. I have very few regrets in my life, but one of them is that I wasted a number of years in a dead relationship because I was too scared of what others (family) would think if I got divorced. When I finally grew some and left, I was freeing myself – allowing myself to be happy and have healthy relationships in my life. No regrets.

  9. Some of the most unhappy people I’ve worked with as a couples therapist have been people who cannot divorce- or believe they cannot. Some have sick or at risk children or they’re married to a person who is ill or disabled. Some have ruled out divorce due to religious beliefs or strong family pressures. Others have limited financial resources.

    Marriage then becomes a prison sentence- life without parole.

    Hard for love to flourish in that environment. Sometimes seeing divorce as an option can help mobilize people to try to improve things where before they’d resigned themselves to being stuck and unhappy.

  10. Yes, yes and yes! I’m so glad I found this post. As one half of a marriage, you can only do so much to keep the marriage together. If the spouse is not committed to it, sometimes divorce is the only solution. I don’t agree with divorce either… but sometimes we don’t have a choice.

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