The D Word

Divorce. It’s just way too common.

My marriage is not perfect (there is no such thing) but on our wedding day, we made a commitment to each other that we would remain a team through good times and bad. I’ve heard the phrase, “Love is blind but marriage is a real eye-opener.” When you live together you become more comfortable and, let’s face it, your true colors start shining through (and pissing off your spouse). Add kids to the mix and you’ve got the makings of a perfect storm. Marriage is hard work. I have learned (and am still learning) that it takes a lot of compassion, patience, trust, respect, patience, empathy, kindness, patience… well, you get the point. I guess you could even say that a marriage is like having another child because it sure does require a lot of energy and nurturing.

I have to say that I find it troubling that nearly half of all marriages in this country end in divorce. It is my opinion that marriage is taken less and less seriously and that far too many people enter into it thinking “Well, if it doesn’t work out we can always just get a divorce.” Do I think there are situations when getting a divorce is justified? Yes, of course. But there’s no way you can convince me that the divorce rate is acceptable or that every single one of those couples necessarily understood the impact their decision would have on their children.

My parents divorced when I was 8 years old. My world felt as if it was crumbling all around me. It’s no secret that it was a very difficult time in my life. One specific memory has really stuck in my mind over the years. My then 5-year-old brother was crying one night and asked me, “When’s daddy coming home?” And I had to find a gentle way of telling him that he wasn’t. That our lives were going to be different now but that it’s going to be ok. In a way, I was trying to comfort myself at the same time. I spent that year vomiting most nights before bed from nerves.

It has now been 21 years since that life changing event and I am now a wife and a mother of two young daughters. I do not look back at my childhood with disdain but as something that has helped shape me into the woman, wife, and mother I am today; someone who knows what it’s like to be a child of divorce and know that I want something different for my children. I want my girls to see first-hand what a healthy marriage looks like. It’s hard work…but I wouldn’t have it any other way.


Together for 13 years. Married for (almost) 5.
Together for 13 years. Married for (almost) 5.



11 thoughts on “The D Word

  1. What I think bothered me is the judgement that comes across. Sadly it’s the same I had before going down the divorce road. We have been together since sixteen and reality is it takes one to end it. I made the same promise to never walk away but no matter how well you think you agree in the end your spouse is human. I will be thirty in a couple of weeks with an almost two year old. I did it all by the “book” but in the end it’s easy to judge when we aren’t living it. Wish you the best but you also should be knocked into reality it happens to the best. Not that I ever wish this heartbreak on anyone.

  2. I never imagined I would get divorced. We used to joke about people we knew — saying the “vulture of divorce” had landed on their roof, randomly targeting them, and it was just a matter of time. Hahaha. But I learned that people you love can change. People become mentally ill or unstable. People choose not to make a living, putting the entire family in peril. People flout the law and do semi-illegal things (tax evasion, forging signatures — things like that). People lie. People are self-destructive. But when you are a parent, all of these changes mean that inevitably you will be dragging others down with you. SOMEONE has to stop that from happening.

    I was totally aware of what I was doing to my children, but that is the point in time when I learned that the choice I wanted for us just wasn’t available. My choices were divorce or allowing someone to make us homeless. I could not choose the option of having a happy loving family with two functioning parents. I was using ALL of my energy solving the other adult’s problems and that was not good for my kids (age 10 and 15). I needed to be whole for THEM. All the therapists and marriage counselors couldn’t change the fact that someone had to act like an adult and make the tough decisions.

    It’s 16 years since the ex- moved out (I had to find a place for him to live or he’d still be here) and 14 years since the divorce (we had been married 20+ years when the divorce became final). I think about it EVERY SINGLE DAY. Still can’t believe it happened. Sometimes I feel angry, sometimes I feel sad, sometimes I feel baffled, sometimes I feel like that I am thinking about a novel I read and it wasn’t my life at all. Much of it is suppressed, deliberately.

    Looking back, there was much I could never have predicted but much I paid no heed to at all. The ex- never went to college, whereas I was a law school grad. That is less about intelligence than it is about innate ambition and the values and beliefs of one’s family of origin. We were of different religions and class backgrounds. He had been adopted at age 2, into a family with an alcoholic father and a disabled natural child. My family of origin was crazy and dysfunctional. That’s just the surface stuff. There was much more that unfolded over the years. But I was madly in love with him when we married, and for many years after. Love is not the only factor.

    So here it is: you just never know. People being people — which means ever-changing and evolving, although sometimes evolving backwards — means the person you marry at 26 may not be the person to whom you are married at 46. Money problems, infidelity, dishonesty, depression, sexual problems — these things can change your beloved spouse into someone unrecognizable. Definitely try as hard as you can to keep the relationship intact but do not stay married “for the kids,” because you’re not fooling anyone, least of all the kids.

  3. I see many sides to this. Yes, I think some people give up on marriage too easily (or, perhaps moreso, enter it too recklessly). But, divorce is the right choice for many. My parents stayed together “for the children” and I grew up with a terrible example of what marriage was. I often wished they would divorce.

    I’m working hard now to not only keep my marriage lasting, but to keep it healthy, thriving, and fulfilling.

  4. I know you stated exceptions your piece, but I do think it’s unfair to say that all divorces are due to the fact that people don’t take it seriously. I am in my late 30s (husband is in his early 40s) and we are at a stage in our lives where we are seeing several of our friends go through divorce. I can honestly say that there are several friends who, at the time they met or were married close to 20 years ago, were absolutely soul-mates; perfect for each other in every possible way. The reality of life is that people, priorities and personalities do change. Over time, these couples may find that what they once shared in their 20s is no longer relevant to them in their 40s. Those that are able, adjust and grow together, but for some, it’s just not possible. Many of my divorced friends still are friendly with their ex-es – they just choose not to spend their lives together.

  5. Hmmm. Well I completely agree that marriage is work. However, I try to not judge what other people do because we can’t really know someone’s situation unless we are in it. I agree that divorce rates are high but I also think every single person is on their own path in this life and has to deal with the outcomes of the choices they make. In my humble (buddhist) opinion, we are the only ones that control our happiness. It’s all in our minds. I think that most people (and I have struggled with this to a great extent too) attach their happiness to other people, in this case our partners, so that when our partners act in a way we don’t like it greatly impacts our state of mind. Then, when we have a negative state of mind about someone we see them through a lens of negativity which just compounds the whole thing. OK I might be getting too philosophical here but the moral of what I’m trying to say is that when we can shift our mind to be in a more peaceful and happy place without being attached to the actions and behaviors of other people we can feel more genuine love and will likely find that our relationships are much better.

  6. It is hard! We’ve been together 13 years and watched friends marry and divorce in that time. We’ve had struggles and learned some patience and understanding in the process. But, as corny as it is, we try not to go to bed mad. I know everyone says that and it’s easy to say, but I’ve really learned to communicate and work things out rather than letting something simmer until it boils over. That was hard for me. I’ve noticed that some (not all) of the couples we’ve seen divorce can be very personal and mean when they fight. The good times and wonderful and the bad times are awful. Other couples who divorce are just not meant to be together. Human relationships are so complex. People fall in love and fall out of love for so many reasons.
    My wife went through a divorce (kinda) with children involved and struggled with the reasons for a long time. When we decided to have kids, she looked at me and said “we have to promise each other that we are in this and will work on this for the long haul!” We are. Through everything, we still truly love and respect each other. There’s no secret solution and you never know when you’re walking down the aisle if it’s going to be forever – you think it will be.
    You can teach your girls to be good communicators and treat people with respect. To have faith and trust. To work together.
    Great post Carly!

  7. Glad someone else feels the same way I do about marriages today. It is just MY OPINION that it’s too easy for people to QUIT on their marriage and think walking away is the answer rather then work and resolve. NO MARRIAGE is an easy road. No LOVE feels the same as it did when you first met. TRUST! PATIENCE! RESPECT ! EMPATHY ! COMMUNICATION ! and repeat. When there is a breakdown in the marriage SPEAK UP to your spouse and work at it together. But don’t bottle it up and let the resentment build, the love dissipate and EXPECT the other person to figure it out and leave it on them to pick up the pieces after the damage has been done. It’s TEAMWORK.

  8. I hate the smugness of the writer of this piece. Of course most ‘normal’ people go into marriage never expecting it to be an easy ride but thinking they can weather the storm and stay together. I find the articles ‘holier than thou’ attitude incredibly insulting.

    I come from a family where my grandparents, parents and siblings are all still happily married which is good. However, my marriage ended when my 4 year old daughter came up to me to ask if her daddy was dead because we hadn’t seen him in a few days (he was in the pub and staying on his sisters couch at night). I made the hard decision (I am a practising Catholic who goes to mass each Sunday and truly believed when I got married it would be for life) to end the marriage because I didn’t want my daughters growing up thinking it was normal for the man to be in the pub all the time whilst the woman did all the work and stayed home all of the time. I wanted my children to have a mother who they could see was a strong woman as a role model rather than a pushover who was willing to accept the fathers behaviour month after month and for them to think this was the norm and ‘settle’ for the same when they grow up.

    Unfortunately it was too late for our marriage, but thankfully it was the best thing to happen for my exhusband and my daughters as he realised his mistakes and became a far better father to our two children than ever he was when we were together.

    I understand the point that marriage is maybe entered into lightly for a lot of people but don’t tar everyone with the same brush.

    1. I have to disagree. I don’t sense any smugness; just honesty. I am divorced, yet I can appreciate this piece wholeheartedly.

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