Is Divorce Bad? Response to "No Divorce Please" in the Hubpages Family Forum

I love it when I find a topic on the forums that resonates with a conversation from my day, although it's not uncommon for anything divorce related to spark my interest. I am an assistant organizer for a local divorce/separated support group, and some of my closest friends are members of that group. Divorce is a fairly common topic in my daily life.

The thread, "No Divorce Please", started with a post by Jyoti kothari in which he characterizes divorce as an epidemic.

While the original poster presents a commonly shared opinion, I started reading with my feathers slightly ruffled, simply in response to the implied "divorce is bad" theme. I have been divorced for 12 years. My ex-husband was present at my second wedding and joked with one of our guests that we were "very successfully divorced." We have co-parented a pretty terrific daughter, now almost 17 years old. So while I certainly see plenty of awful divorce situations in my group, I don't think it's because "divorce is bad."

Rhiannon_2009 posted, "Granted, it is much better for children to have a mother and father who stay together, and who love each other." I would rephrase this slightly to say, "It is sometimes better to have a mother and father who stay together, IF the parents love each other." In fact, in many situations, it is probably much better for the children if their parents do not stay married. This is the part that was directly related to my conversation with a friend, and I will come back to this point before this hub is complete.

aka-dj posted, "One thing that I have observed over the years is, that if one party quits, (for whatever reason), it is all (but) over...Again, my observations have shown, that in a majority (though not all) cases, selfishness was the root problem."

I don't completely agree. One party might "quit" but then come back around if the other party doesn't give up. My second marriage was "all but over" just three years ago. My husband definitely "quit". For at least half of 2006, he stated, unequivocally, that we were over, but I hung in there. We reconciled, and today our relationship is no longer one-sided.

But yes, it is usually "selfishness", at least to the extent that the spouse giving up is in a time and place where they are no longer considering their partner's needs. This is not to say they are ultimately selfish people. We all have selfish periods in our life - and sometimes we need them! I believe part of being married is knowing when and how long to support your spouse in their selfish periods.

pgrundy points out: "Marriage is disintegrating in the U.S. because women can get jobs. When they can't get jobs anymore (which may be soon in this economy) they will be unable to leave and their husbands will once again be free to beat them into submission or humiliate them at the dinner table or anything else they feel like doing."

I have no doubt that whether or not women work outside the home has complicated matters of marriage and divorce. And I hate the thought of anyone trapped in marriage due to finances. Already there is talk of today's economic crisis as the reason some couples are not getting divorced. Sometimes it buys time for reconciliation, sometimes it is a death sentence. If either my husband or I could have afforded separation several years ago, we might not be together today! But I hope we do not loose the progress we've made in empowering women, especially, to divorce.

Rhiannon_2009 states, "I didn't enter into the institution of marriage casually. There was never a thought, "If this doesn't work out, I can just get a divorce."

Oh, me, neither! (At least not the first time, wink, wink!) When I was 20 years old, I married a man who wanted to be a minister (my first husband). Divorce was a rare and shameful event in my family at that time, and even more unimaginable as a "preacher's wife." I never would have believed that I would leave a "man of God". But I did. And it was one of the best (though most difficult) decisions I ever made.

Rhiannon continues: "I did not feel that we had a 'broken home.' Divorce gets a bad name. Sometimes it is a new beginning. It was definitely the beginning of emotional healing for all of us."

Amen! I personally think Riannon sums up the healthy perspective we should all try to have about divorce, whether we like it or not. I've observed that even those who are left behind and absolutely do not want a divorce start to recover and move forward in their lives when they finally embrace this perspective.

RelSol1 describes the problem this way: "More people should spend time learning what truly makes them happy. Most people can't define this, so how can they ever find the person that will make them happy. Most can't even say what they don't want from a partner. Understand your wants and seek the person that fulfills your happiness!"

I certainly agree this is true, to an extent. We are not really encouraged to dream in our culture. We have all these little voices in our minds reminding us of our limitations. We are taught to compromise, to settle. In various explorations of personal growth over the last few years, I've found answering the "What would make you happy?" questions really difficult. When I fantasize about winning the lottery, for example, I find myself checking off all the things I would do for others and have a hard time giving myself permission to relax on a tropical beach somewhere.

But as Rhiannon explains, "The fact is, no one is responsible for your happiness but yourself. A husband or wife is not there to fulfill your fantasy or make your dreams come true. Your partner is there to share in the journey. How you feel on any given day has a lot to do with your attitude and your expectations. Most people are as happy as they make up their minds to be."

I just keep agreeing with Riannon all the way through the discussion! This is exactly why I finally gave myself permission to leave my first husband - I felt like he expected me to make him happy, and I just couldn't seem to do it, no matter how hard I tried. I believe I had to get out of his way so he could learn to make himself happy. But something else Riannon posted reminded me of another misconception that sort of drives me bonkers. Riannon said, "One person can't do it alone, and you cannot change or control anyone but yourself."

As I've already indicated, I went through a long period of feeling like I was "doing it alone" in my second marriage. When it comes to saving a marriage, one person *can* do it, sometimes. It takes a lot of patience, focus on self-improvement, and simply waiting it out. But the idea that it takes "two" to make a marriage work, I think, is false. Though the theory is expressed by other, perhaps more reputable, "experts", I think it was Dr. Phil I first heard explain that marriage is hardly ever a 50/50 effort. Sometimes it works out 60/40, or 75/25; and sometimes it requires 100% from one partner or the other. It might take one spouse, at any given time, to forgive and wait. At some point, you might have forgiven and waited too long - ideally the give and take will alternate. But when one spouse is at wit's end, the other *can* have an influence--not by changing the other person, of course, but by changing the way you react to and interact with the other person.

devestated cautions, "I guess the one thing that I want you to realize is that you need to be very careful and really think about what advise you give to someone that is asking for your input. Don't look at just the one situation because there are more circumstances surrounding it. There are two people involved, not just the one."

In my volunteer work with the divorce/separated support group, I think I've come close to seeing "it all". And devestated is correct - there are three sides to every story - his, hers and the truth. There are no one-size-fits-all answers in the marriage/divorce arena, I'm afraid.

As for whether divorce is bad, well, it can be painful. It usually is. But so are most of life's experiences that teach us valuable lessons.

Back to the conversation with a friend of mine that kept coming to my mind as I read through this discussion thread. We were talking specifically about fathers and their roles in their kids' lives. She was voicing a bit of frustration that her ex never showed much interest in her son's life. The son wanted to play soccer, not football; he was never interested in hunting with Dad; Dad never got interested in son's school work. I was lamenting that my husband seemed almost too casual with his son. I'm just wondering when he will start saying, 'Hey, how 'bout them boobs?" or something equally offensive. But in his mind, is he just teaching his boy to be a man? And in the last generation or so, didn't this role get terribly blurred?

Used to, a man's time with his son was on the farm, or in the woods hunting, or in the yard throwing a football--away from Mom. All of a sudden, with "partner parenting," Mom was there supervising (and criticizing) everything Dad did with the boy. With more moms working, especially, "family time" meant everyone spending time together, evenings and weekends, and a lot less one-on-one time. In Leave-it-to-Beaver land, Moms provided care-taking while Dads worked, then Dads played with the kids while Mom finally got a break. We evolved to see the negative aspects of this stereotypical division of parenting roles, but maybe we dismissed the benefits of that separation too quickly.

Even when divorce is not as amicable as it could be, at least fathers who receive visitation schedules have uninterrupted time alone with their children. I feel a bit in limbo on kids' weekends at my house, because I try to stay out of the way when my husbands' children are with him. But I don't really mind. He does not tell farting jokes to me - but it seems he needs to share them with his son.

Similarly, mom's get a much needed break when the kids are at dad's for the weekend - a break that many married mom's never receive!

I'm certainly not saying that everyone should run out and get divorced so moms and dads can parent separately. I just think this discussion with my friend illustrates again that very little is black and white. It is not enough to say, "divorce is bad," any more than it is to say "divorce is good." Divorce just IS. And we might as well make the best of it.

madmac asked "Why must it always be about God, religion and damnation?"

I probably thought I had an answer when I copied and pasted that question, but once I started drafting my responses, I could not remember what it was. I've actually skimmed over or ignored most of the religious perspectives that emerged in this thread. I was raised Protestant and my first husband became a Baptist minister. I came to the conclusion a long time ago that religion does little to help me, personally, sort out life's most complicated questions. I'm happy for those who find peace in their faith, but it seems to me when issues like divorce or abortion are approached as simply right or wrong, growth and healing are much slower to emerge, and instead conflict persists.

JYOTI KOTHARI pops back in with, "It is better to stay together in most cases. It is economical and a spouse get emotional support from another in distress."

As I indicated above, I believe it is the opposite. Spouses absolutely do not get emotional support from each other when their marriage sucks! And there can be numerous benefits to "shared parenting". LelahKimball's reply to Jyoti sums it up, mentioning a study that indicated "kids whose parents divorced are much, much happier (a greater divide than divorce & intact happy marriage) and well adjusted than kids whose parents are unhappily married." Lelah concludes, "Moral: Divorce is better than a bad marriage."

Amen! I'm sure additional posts to the original thread will contribute more worthwhile points, but it seems the 2 pages so far have rounded off to a nice conclusion! Again, I just love finding a thread so relevant to my thoughts and life, and thank you to all of the posters who inspired this hub!

[Author's note: I hope I haven't stepped on any toes or broken any rules by basing this hub on a message board thread...if I have offended, feel free to let me know either in the comment section or by email through hubpages - and if you want me to delete your name or quote from my hub, just tell me and I will edit.]

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Comments 18 comments

St.James profile image

St.James 7 years ago from Lurking Around Florida

I believe marriage is the Number 1 cause of divorce.

Though the end of any relationship can be sad, sometimes its for the best of all concerned. It may end up being the right choice in the long run.

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country

I think you gave a very well-rounded view of divorce, from a woman's perspective and based on multiple examples. Most people have only touched on one aspect from one perspective. I like the idea of there being three sides.Your ideas are well-presented.

dineane profile image

dineane 7 years ago from North Carolina Author

St. James - I can't argue with your comment a bit!

Rochelle - thank you! For better or worse (sorry for the pun!), I have had a lot of experience with divorce! It was certainly one of the hardest things I personally experienced, and I've found it extremely rewarding to help others facing such a huge life transition.

lindagoffigan profile image

lindagoffigan 7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

I disagree with the notion that when one gives up on the marriage, then the relationship is over. For a divorce to occur both people in the relationship has to realize that maybe the best thing to do is for both to stop wasting time on a failed relationship and to not give up but to let go so they both can start anew. If one person is holding onto the marriage, then it is not really a marriage at all but a one sided partnership and marriage is meant to be so much more than that.

dineane profile image

dineane 7 years ago from North Carolina Author

thanks for commenting, Linda - I think I agree with you, mostly. I'm not advocating staying forever in a one-sided parternship, but I do thing sometimes people give up too soon because of the notion that it always "takes two."

Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

Dineane, you analyzed the thoughts of many who participated in that forum and you brought a perspective to that analysis that would never be truly heard in a forum venue. I applaud you for your thoughtful analysis, to which you added your personal and objective experience. I gained a great deal reading this Hub, much more than I would have if I read only the posts in the forum. I think you have raised the bar on what a Hub can be.

Ten months ago you commented about your involvement with a divorce support group, on my divorce Hub. I see that you are still very much involved, and further, that you have made your involvement a very important part of your life. I applaud you for this as well, for I can see your sincerity about, commitment to, and ability with the issues of divorce and the people who must face them.

Brilliant job. This Hub gives me much food for thought about my own decision to divorce, but it also excites me in terms of looking to the forums as seed beds of ideas from which to go forward.

Thumbs up in every way.

Leta S 7 years ago

I just love the fact you wrote this after really thinking about all the points of view, coming up with something new. :) The essence of creative thinking! Thank you, :)

dineane profile image

dineane 7 years ago from North Carolina Author

Sally and Lita, thank you so much for your comments! I'm not sure why it felt so strange to base this hub on a forum thread, but I really appreciate your validation.

And Sally, thanks for reminding me about your divorce hubs - I'm off to edit another of my hubs with some "hub love" for you!

LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

thanks for this - it's a fascinating and relevant hub.

I don't know about the stats, but just from reading different threads and posts here on hubpages, I think Americans take marriage both more and less seriously than we do in the UK.

By less, I mean that people get married younger, what seems (to me) more casually, and can do it more easily.

You can't wake up in the UK and marry, you need to register it (civil) or have the banns called for weeks (Church of England) and it all takes time. It also takes longer to get divorced - years, really.

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country

Yes, I think it was brilliant to base this on a thread-- there were a lot of adversarial comments, and I think you brought balance to the conversation as a moderator who also had personal insights.

I don't know if making both marriage and divorce more complicated (as in the UK) is better or worse. My parents  crossed into the next state and lied about their ages-- Mom  was just 17.

Dad, when he knew he finally knew he was dying, apologized to her for not being able to make it to their 60th anniversary. He was almost 82 and couldn't hang on for another 3 months.

LelahKimball profile image

LelahKimball 7 years ago from USA

Wow! I'm the conculsion. Don't know what to make of that.

Good summary of the whole darn topic. And interesting. I do agree with your one-sided marriage comments. Our pastor at church tells a story about a couple that was married 60+ years and when he asked them what the secret was, the husband looked at the pastor and said: "We both never fell out of love at the same time."

k@ri profile image

k@ri 7 years ago from Sunny Southern California

dineane-Thanks for your wonderful hub! My parents are celebrating their 50th year of marriage this year...yet I am a total failure at it. Thanks for letting me know that there are more people than my family who understand. Until HubPages, I didn't usually let people know how many times I had been married.

amy jane profile image

amy jane 7 years ago from Connecticut

Wonderful hub! I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this and I agree with all of it! Each marriage is completely unique. I think sometimes one partner does have to "wait it out" as you said, and keep loving their spouse even when it seems like all is lost. Sometimes divorce may be the best choice. A miserable marriage is more painful than a divorce!

dineane profile image

dineane 7 years ago from North Carolina Author

I love finding comments first thing in the morning - and such nice comments, too! Thank you ladies, and I'm glad you enjoyed the hub!

Benson Yeung profile image

Benson Yeung 7 years ago from Hong Kong

Hi dineane,

thanks for sharing so clearly and frankly your experience and thoughts. I've learned something today.

AnneMH profile image

AnneMH 7 years ago from Centennial Colorado

Thank you for writing this. I am one that can attest that being married does not mean mutual support (or even sharing of money). My ex was calling and increasing credit limits on cards and when I checked there was no way for me to stop it. He had a legal right to increase debt in my name. As far as emotional support, I still have friends who tell me how sorry they were for me and didn't know what to say. So being able to get divorced in a reasonable way and time saved my life, glad I am not worried about religious judgement on this one!

womanNshadows profile image

womanNshadows 7 years ago from Charlotte, NC

thank you for a truly interesting read.

i, too, divorced my first husband but it wasn't for the usual reasons of money, infidelity, or one person falling out of love with the other. it was because he took off the mask he wore.

we are Catholic and felt marriage was forever, for better or worse. we went through the Pre-Cana marriage seminars before our marriage and our engagement was 11 months long. i knew this man.

then the wedding night and the marriage. i found out he had allowed me to know the man he'd wanted me to know.

he was abusive, both kinds. i told my father who told me i'd "made my bed." i told two different doctors at two different times in two different towns who both told me to "go home and fix your marriage." my behavior became modified quickly to adapt to his moods, the inflections in his voice, his hands at his sides. were they fisting? not always a sign. he could be smilng and his hands relaxed. the suddenness of the strike would be alarming.

he took all the money and left only enough for food and bills in the account. he kept me away from the world. the physical abuse decreased with the age of the children. but the verbal was constant. my oldest can tell you. she saw it all. i didn't want them hearing daddy verbally demean mommy so i distracted them. my son was safe. he was the younger and i think didn't want to know becasue he was afraid of his dad. my daughter could read the signs. she would listen in "in case he got really mean."

i never knew she did that until their teenage years when she was starting her senior year in high school. "leave him. i can't go to college if you're going to be alone with him."

my son knew i protected him. he stands up to his father now in a way i never thought he would arrive at, but he remains respectful. my daughter instigated her run-ins with him to prove to him, not me, not her, to prove to him that he was a sociopath. he didn't care. she forgot the rest of the definition of a sociopath. that was the day it almost got rough for her. i distracted him and sent her back into the house. his anger needed an outlet and i had always risked it all that it would never be my children. he only broke my fingers. the doctor i snuck out and went to a couple of days later told me to "tell someone." i told him "i'm telling you." i went home and waited. no one called. no one came by. i went to see my priest.

my priest counseled me to divorce. "God does not want you to suffer this way." i went through the interviews with the counsel and the psychiarist through Catholic Charities to make sure I wasn't throwing away 20 years of marriage on a whim. they all assured me i wasn't. i got my official paperwork for the granted annulment from the Catholic church in under 7 months. i'm told that is very fast.

and true to form he took it all. my car, all the money, the 401K, the joint accounts, the stocks options, and my home. his reasoning was "it's mine. you obeyed me to a point but i could see how you hated me. i just thought you'd always put up with it. so, go. but this money is mine. its my pay for having to put up with you."

my daughter was in college and my son still in high school when we moved to a motel. it was the most frightening time of my life with the exception of the 20 years of stress and fear and agony that preceeded it.

then i met my second husband and he gave my soul back to me. he loved me, protected me, and gave me what i never thought i'd have, a future of peace and love. and i had that right up until the moment he died in my arms.

now i am back in the shadows. womanNshadows has been my name for decades. i became her when i saw what i had married. when the lies of what he was fell away and i was well and truly trapped with no outside help available. and now i am her again because my dragon has died and i am alone and bereft.

comme il faut.

dineane profile image

dineane 7 years ago from North Carolina Author

My, wns, you've survived a lot! Thank you for your comment - there are no doubt some marriages that should end, sooner than later.

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