It is easy to get the false impression from outside that people make quick and light divorce decisions all the time, but the truth is, most people struggle deeply and quietly for a long time before deciding. Making a decision to divorce is an extremely guilt and shame producing process and many of us go through it alone, or without any significant mental and emotional help or support.
Just thinking about the possibility of divorce hits our shame core the deepest, telling us that we have failed, we are not enough of a man or woman who could make marriage work. We just don’t have it in us, we don’t quite measure up. We always had this suspicion about ourselves, but now if we divorce we will have evidence. It will be official. We will be second class citizens. Less than we should be.
Divorce does so much more damage than the the visible, obvious, breaking up families, making single parents, two-homed children, lonely dogs. It demotes us to something less, something to be ashamed of, something to hide or cover up. Even in today’s world when divorce is so common and widely accepted, it still does these things to us, trying to steal our dignity and self-worth. Even when we vehemently try to deny it. It just comes with it. Like a side effect, or rather a silent tsunami.
But at the same time, a miserable, intimacy deprived, lonely, cold, or anger filled marriage have devastating effects too. It also shames us continuously, telling us that something is wrong with us if we cannot make our family, and most of all, ourselves happy in this marriage. If we cannot change our spouse, or at least change ourselves to adjust and endure.
It shames us when we look at someone else with longing and wishing that we were free, or when we try the thousandths time to have some intimacy with our spouse, but experience only rejection. It shames our children to see us treat each other with contempt, anger, or silence. A dead marriage is truly life sucking and self-worth destroying for everyone in the family. In that case, when options were tried, attempts were made, but the misery remained, divorce is the lesser evil, the better option.
But who can tell which one is the lesser evil?
Only the person in the marriage. No one else. Even with the best intentions, friends and family members, or anybody else trying to help, are just looking in from the outside and seeing part of the picture, feeling part of the pain. It’s not their (or as a matter of fact, anybody’s or any institution’s or church’s) question to answer. Only the suffering ones’ inside the marriage.
It is a painfully agonizing question to face and excruciatingly hard, life and death decision to make. Everyone has to find their own answer, make their own decision.
So struggling through this decision, taking the time to examine, feel, talk it out, exhaust options, map possibilities, is the only wise and sane way to go about it. Not doing it alone, but being sure during the whole time that we have a lot of support, the right kind of, unbias, non-judgmental, empathetic support around us, so we can be certain we are making the right decision. Because we will have to live with it probably the rest of our lives.
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