My next guest post this week comes from a teenager called Chelsea. Chelsea is a key person on my blog support team – she transcribes my interviews which is probably my least favorite job. Chelsea’s mom, Mama J has shared her story here talking about her decision to stay or leave her marriage. That ultimately lead to Mama J meeting the man who would become her second husband and Chelsea coming into this world.
Chelsea emailed me a few months back with a suggestion for a post – I love that she takes such an active interest in the blog:) It was a great idea and I emailed her back suggesting she write it. Here’s Chelsea:
No one who hasn’t ended a marriage can fully understand it, myself included, as I have yet to even be married. But, after listening to and reading through the stories of several women, it became apparent to me that divorce is absolutely not what most people think it is.
It takes more courage to ask for a divorce or go through with one than it does to get married in the first place. To splinter the image of a couple growing old together with a divorce is harder than creating that expectation. For this reason, men and women who have ended a marriage are among the strongest emotionally. No one is weak for doing that. If anything, they have proved they have the strength to care about themselves and their own happiness over the expectations of others.
Another set of associations with divorce concerns separation and loss. Many women have discussed the grieving process and how grieving the loss of a marriage is like grieving the loss of a life. It is grieving the loss of a life—the life the two of you had together. But the life you begin on your own is no less valuable. In fact, most women Mandy has interviewed say that they didn’t realize how much they were capable of or how strong they were until after their separation. And yes, there is a separation of one spouse from the other, though in reality, there are often more bonds being made than broken.
Several of the women whose stories appear on Since My Divorce, including my mom, Mama J, say they don’t see their life before divorce as a void, that they simply can’t regret their marriage because without it, they wouldn’t know what they know and have what (or who!) they have now. My parents’ marriage is actually founded on the common ground of divorce—it’s how they met. As counter-intuitive as it is, divorce brings people together more than it sets them apart. Whether you meet a new partner because of the end of your marriage or you join a support group or a church or even if you just meet other single-again parents at your child’s school, divorce is a bizarre kind of social networking. Even by reading and commenting on this blog, friendships, relationships and networks are growing.
So, while divorce is a loss of sorts and a concept that always implies separation, I prefer to see it as the window that opened when the door closed—as the opportunity for more and more relationships to burgeon and develop.
I love the optimism in Chelsea’s post – it gives me hope that if we are raising children to think this way about the ending of a marriage, maybe the stigma of divorce will disappear. Maybe the model that divorce has to be bitter and angry and contentious will disappear. When Chelsea speaks of more bonds being made as a result of the end of a marriage, it reminds of the Divorce through the eyes of a teenager post on Divorce to Happiness blog. It’s written by Kristi’s daughter – she talks about the new siblings she’s gained and didn’t have before.
I’m on vacation with my kids currently, visiting Disneyland, SeaWorld and Universal Studios – we’ll have loads of opportunity to chat so I think I’m going to ask them how they see divorce now. Have you ever asked your children? What did they say?
And if you’re in the beginning stages of separation, I just came across this great post from Tara at Itty Bitty Bookworm on children’s books on separation and divorce. Looks like Tara did a good job researching this and found age-appropriate books for each of her children.