- Gender and Relationships
Divorce - The Dark Side of The Wedding Vow!
There is seldom a wedding vow that doesn’t include the words “to love and cherish ‘til death do us part” to which a bride and groom solemnly (and gleefully) attest, “I do”.
You’ve witnessed it. Bride and groom in lover’s bliss, eyes watering, hands embracing, hearts pounding, smiles wide enough to fill the sanctuary.
Sure, there may be some rare instance where we witnesses got duped by a couple of matrimonial con artists in a charade. Still, for the majority of weddings we attend I am rather sure that the pledge is genuine and the devotion between bride and groom is heart-felt.
But the truth is that couples like these do regularly dissolve their marriage. The same people once vowing “for better or worse” unfortunately do migrate to the dark side of the wedding vow and divorce 45-50% of the time.
In this article (having been divorced myself) I would like to share what most brides and grooms don’t realize about that dark side of the vow; and what it holds for them and their children and their family and friends in the wake of divorce—even long after the papers are signed and each has gone their separate way.
Okay, but let me clarify to whom this article is addressed.
It is meant for couples who are contemplating divorce because they are convinced they have lost that “loving feeling” and can rediscover it with someone else. I am not addressing divorce for reasons such as abuse, criminal activity, or desertion. In these cases, divorce is undoubtedly the correct option and the consequences afterward the lesser of two evils.
Moreover, what I have to say is not intended for those who were motivated to marry by something other than genuine love. For this group I would express the words of Bob Dylan and simply say, “The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind”. I am not unsympathetic, but that wasn’t my experience so I can’t respond.
What I have to say is for those who are contemplating divorce after going to the altar in love and wholly committed to a life-long relationship. It is to them that this article is written; insight into what they should expect in the aftermath.
You, As a Divorcee
To the world and beyond you become a divorcee forevermore and no longer a bride or groom of virtue.
Worse yet, if you perpetuated the divorce then you will always be a vow-breaker. For you are divorcing the one you swore to “have and to hold from this day forward”. So what part of that vow didn’t you understand or respect?
Here’s the deal.
By divorcing you are admitting to a flaw as to why you became marriage-minded in the first place. You were stupid, manipulative, or just hard-headed.
If stupid, then you probably thought you were in love when you were too young or naive to know, that you could change or “save” the other, held to the ideal that everything will work out no matter what, or simply felt that marriage was just the “right thing” to do.
If manipulative, then you undoubtedly felt that marriage would be the surest way to keep the two of you together. Perhaps out of desperation, lust, or some financial gain.
If hard-headed, then you were just too unwise and foolhardy to listen to any advice contrary to your decision, period.
Whichever; you become flawed because divorce has proven that your decision to get married was flawed to begin with.
If you don’t have children, then the decision you make to dissolve your marriage at least will not inflict pain upon the most innocent.
On the other hand, when children are involved, understand full well that your divorce will harm them. The best that parents can provide children is a safe, secure, stable and loving environment; the worst is a place where one parent is no longer living under the same roof and home as they knew it no longer exists.
Children are confused by divorce.
As a result, they may wrongfully accept the blame, feel unrelenting pressure to take sides, or become unduly downhearted because they cannot fix what you have broken.
The age of the child might dictate the impact and how well and quickly they cope, but that’s like saying a blow to the head with a bat is less lethal than with a hammer. At the end of the day, regardless of age, divorce will inflict some awful degree of emotional pain on children for the rest of their lives under any circumstances.
Family and Friends
It’s difficult for any family member or friend of a couple undergoing divorce not to be adversely affected by the break-up.
As one commenter puts it, “divorce is like trying to pull apart two pieces of paper that are glued together.” No matter how earnest your effort, there is no such thing as a “clean-cut” divorce. In the wake of every divorced couple are bits and pieces of relationships torn apart and scattered everywhere.
Think about it.
Those closest to you can’t help but to take sides. Even when it’s not hostile, it is almost near-to-impossible for you ever again to associate with your spouse’s family or with friends who once embraced you as a husband and wife.
Once you divorce, things change. The circle of family and friends you once enjoyed as a married couple is redrawn and what you experience thereafter will never be quite the same ever again. It is simply the nature of the dark side of the marriage vow.
In some “exceptional” cases, of course, divorce cannot (nor should) be avoided. But for the rest of us it would be wise to glean truth from the proverbial saying “measure twice before cutting”. Namely, don’t be hasty when the end result is final because divorce sucks.
Of course, it’s beyond the scope of my expertise to tell you how to reignite the original spark of your first love. But I will suggest that you diligently seek to discover it with all your heart, soul, and mind.
Persevere to stay true to your original marriage vow and remain in the light of virtue. It may (and probably will) take some work and patience, but you won’t regret it. Trust me; I have experienced the dark side of divorce, and it is not lovely.
About the Author
James Kobzeff was divorced by his wife in 1988 and has not remarried. He continues to maintain a close relationship with his three sons and four grandchildren. He has shared his experience several times with men groups in his church in hopes of discouraging them to divorce.