All at once a four letter word and as trendy as an iPod, it seems.
I have two friends that got married in May of last year who are getting a divorce. Well, let’s be honest, she is one of my best friends and he’s more of “someone I know.” My husband is closer friends with him than he is with her. Thus, we discuss their divorce very little. Anyway. They’re 26. I’ll give you all a minute to collect yourselves, judge, and whatever before I discuss my thoughts on divorce today, especially in our “young” population.
They way I see it, a divorce is only as tragic as the expectations the marriage failed to meet.
When I first met this couple they, well, weren’t. They had just gone through an icky breakup in the summer of 2004. I didn’t pay too much attention to the details of the breakup as I was just meeting everyone, but I know there were outside parties involved, yadda yadda so the story goes.
My friend then went on to start dating a guy she later became engaged to, but in the winter of 2006 they broke off their engagement and she started dating her ex.
I know what many of you are thinking. “I bet she was with her ex all along, or at least near the end.” You know what? Maybe. Maybe not. She’s my friend and I’ve never compromised her integrity by directly asking her about any potential infidelity. If she were to ever offer the information, I’d take it. However, she hasn’t so I am to side with my friend and assume that these were two separate relationships, regardless of what I think I might have done in the situation. And, frankly if she told me she was with him while she was engaged, so what. It’s her life. We shouldn’t try to run the lives of others while we, as Americans, clearly have enough trouble running our own.
Moving on. She and her ex got back together, moved to his hometown, bought a home, got new jobs, got engaged, and got married in less than a year. To me, that is a LOT of change that would signal disaster for any personal relationships in which I may be involved. Any one of the life events they went through can cause stress alone, but together, for my friend, they formed a perfect storm.
The transition was certainly difficult, as it is with any couple moving in together for the first time AND planning a wedding. And, of course, there were doubts (cold feet) along the way as there is with most engaged couples.
However, on the day of the wedding (love you girl) I knew something was wrong. I could tell by the look on her face (complete terror/nausea) that she had more than excited butterflies, jitters. On May 19th 2007 I knew that she deep deep down knew she was making a mistake. But, I also know that EVEN DEEPER down she thought it would all be ok. Thus, I said nothing. I was a bridesmaid. My job was to support her whether SHE DECIDED to walk down the isle or run in to the road. No matter what you may see on TV shows, it’s never OK to tell your friends they’re making a mistake unless there’s abuse or some other extenuating circumstances involved. To do otherwise is to tell your friend that they have no brain with which to judge and run their own lives.
You, as a friend, only see a certain percentage of the relationship. Just because a couple might bicker a lot in front of you, they may spend the other 80% (give or take) of their time in complete bliss…You NEVER have the whole picture. I don’t think anyone ever really has the whole picture, even if they’re in it. Maybe you see even less when you’re in it…Hmm....earmark that for another day.
The wedding was beautiful and I was hammered during the reception. The following months were filled with difficulty, questions of annulment, and counseling for my two friends. She left a couple of times for long weekends to clear her head. He played the “peeing game” by flirting with girls whether she was there or not. Just a few weeks ago, he left. Left left. Took his clothes, took his money, and left to his parents’ house. Yea…don’t get me started on that part…So, my friend was left realizing this was over. Could she backpedal and not threaten to leave if that was what, in fact, drove him to actually leave? Nope. And, quite frankly, if she could it wouldn’t matter. Why wouldn’t it matter? Their expectations.
I was left wondering, what were their individual expectations upon entering the marriage? She told me she wanted a marriage with children, etc. I never asked him-that’s something you don’t ask guys who aren’t your close friend I guess.
Expectations. I had a friend a long time ago say, “Women enter a relationship expecting to change their partner and men enter a relationship hoping their partner will never change.” I have since lost touch with that friend but I think about that statement CONSTANTLY. It’s so true. Women are, by nature, naggers (or nurturers, however you want to say it). If there are little things that “bother” us we figure we can just change them. My husband will verify this. He says I have a laundry list of things to change about him but he hopes I never change. All except the bitchy part I suppose ;)
So, in the end, my friends’ divorce will only be as tragic as the expectations their marriage failed to meet. Maybe neither one of them will ever fully admit/understand the expectations they had or the other person had. Maybe they can’t be that honest with themselves or each other.
I personally feel they are both better off. They are the same people they were when they broke up in 2004. Expectations of change brought them back together in 2006 and tore them apart, again, in 2008.
Young folks of today please listen. Marriage and divorce aren’t accessories added to our overindulgent 21st century lifestyle. Marriage is an ancient right of passage that has been sacred for all centuries of human culture. Marriage isn’t about the wedding. A wedding is one day, and not a full day at that (and rarely a sober day). Marriage is a lifestyle. Marriage is not a dress, tux, reception, guest list, caterer, open bar (well…), gifts, thank you cards, and invitations. A marriage is love, work, sacrifice, growth, support, partnership, family and eternal.
Love each other, love yourselves, and love your friends.
Love your friends well enough to know their expectations, support their decisions, and catch them when they fall. A true friend spends more time with their ears open and their mouth shut. A truer friend spends more time with their arms open than with their ears and mouth combined.