Until death do us part. A few weeks ago there were obituaries of a couple who both had passed away within a short time of each other. This is what we think of when we utter those words, “til death do us part”, right? In a society where fifty percent of all marriages fail it seems like this vow should be changed, or should it? If fifty percent fail then fifty percent succeed until one dies. In the case of the two obituaries; sometimes the separation is short until the one mate follows the other. The joke behind the fifty-fifty rule is if the marriage doesn’t fail then it lasts forever. To fundamentalists marriage is a commitment under their Creator that should honor the vows spoken. I’m going to provide an alternative meaning to that time tested vow.
I’m in the first fifty percent, the failing part. I was married for the better part of ten years. I have three daughters from that union and had great in-laws and learned a lot from that experience. Here’s where those who have never been divorced can start. It’s the same as those who have never had children giving advice to those who have, it’s pointless. I had countless people tell me to not get divorced, stay married, “do it for the children”. I can honestly say I got divorced for the children. Children have one shot at growing up, one, no do-over, one shot. That shot could have been one of unhappiness, one of being forced into the vows that two young people spoke long ago. Here’s where I say that the vow isn’t wrong, it’s all in the interpretation.
Divorce is death. The stages are the same. There’s your anger. You’re angry that somehow you’ve angered your Creator by not obeying the vow. You’re angry at your spouse and yourself for not fixing the break, correcting the mistakes and making it alright. You’re in denial, denial that this thing, this fifty percent chance went the wrong way. You bargain with yourself that maybe just maybe you can let the past slide and start over without the anger, wrong again. I honestly can’t say I know all the stages of grieving nor do I want to look them up, but I know after awhile you accept the fact that your marriage is a failure and you move on. The problem sometime is that not everyone moves on. Remember the three children?
My youngest was two when the separation started. The constant “why don’t you live with us” question was difficult. When I started dating again and the hatred real or perceived towards my now wife was difficult. The most difficult time was one evening when we heard my oldest crying. I stood at the door listening as she cried and talked about not being part of a family anymore. That one hurt. We both went in and talked to all three of them and told them that not only are they part of a family; they now had two families. More people to love them more people to help them when they’re hurt and more people to give them gifts, just kidding on that last part but I’m sure that managed to make it into their brains as well.
The next time you have a friend going through a divorce don’t just remind them of their vows; remember that there’s two sides to every story and a new interpretation of a vow isn’t always a bad thing. Lastly, be there for them and let them grieve no matter what side of the fifty percent they sit on.