A revised version of this blog post about divorce rates in Oklahoma and myths about divorce aired on KOSU Radio January 15, 2013.
I have nothing here to sell you,
Just some things that I will tell you.
Some things I know will chill you to the bone…
—From George Jones and The Grand Tour
I much prefer my own fractured prose to posts this utterly direct, but sometimes, the easiest way to say something is to just say it. Despite the overwhelming number of Gen Xers who profess a desire to keep their marital vows, Xers are more likely to divorce than Baby Boomers – a generation which itself set a record for divorce.
Divorce is gut-wrenching. It’s a societal wound Xers first experienced via their parents. When Xers became parents themselves, the natural response was to overparent and create child-focused families. Now, despite that overwhelming desire to not put their children through what they went through, families headed by Gen X parents are starting to break apart at breakneck speed. There are many reasons cited for this including a bad economy.
And then there is the ongoing emasculation of Gen X men in society, and the emotional impact of making less money (accounting for inflation) than their fathers made. This reality is compounded by the fact Gen X women have been able to advance their own income potential, much on the backs of Baby Boomer feminists and careerists. This has led to an unprecedented amount of financial freedom among Gen X women.
The experience of being a divorced woman has changed, along with the statistics. “The No. 1 reaction I get from people when I tell them I’m getting divorced is, ‘You’re so brave,’ ” said Stephanie Dolgoff, a 44-year-old mother of two elementary-school daughters who was separated last year. “In the 1970s, when a woman got divorced, she was seen as taking back her life in that Me Decade way. Nowadays, it’s not seen as liberating to divorce. It’s scary.”
I went through a divorce more than 12 years ago when my oldest was barely a year old. I remarried eights years ago when she was five. I am grateful for Robert’s presence in our lives. He has been an amazing and loving father to Juliette! And, I am grateful that I was able to have more children and realize my dream of a big family. The Lord restores the years the locust hath eaten.
But, along the way, I discovered a lot of myths about divorce. While the truth can hurt – it’s the two-edged sword that separates bone from marrow – lies are worse. They can devour you and your future. So, for what it may be worth, here are 10 of those myths.
1. My lawyer is my friend.
No, he isn’t. Your lawyer is your lawyer. He lives and dies by the billable hour. Do not call this person for moral or emotional support unless you’re prepared to pay for it.
2. She has three kids and I have three kids and together we’ll be happy. Like the Brady Bunch.
No, you won’t. Blended families are almost always an absolute disaster. There are exceptions to this rule, but they are rare. People end up hating each other. If you think you’re miserable now, wait until you’re part of a blended family. If you like getting chopped and pureed in a blender…
3. The divorce is his/her fault because he/she cheated.
Umm, probably not entirely. Affairs are symptoms of much larger problems. In fact, I read one time that if one spouse has an affair it’s “at least” 50 percent the other spouse’s fault. That’s some bad medicine, but I bet if spouses accepted it more marriages would be saved.
4. She cheated on me so I have Biblical grounds for a divorce.
Umm, maybe not. You have a greater obligation to forgive than you do a right to divorce.
5. We just outgrew each other.
Umm, no you didn’t. But, look at this way, you have plenty of time to find someone new and outgrow him or her before they get stuck taking care of you in a nursing home.
6. I will never go back to him/her.
You might. A writer once said about people who leave their spouses, “as sure as the maple leaf turns red in the fall – everyone cycles back.” I agree with this for the most part except in the most extreme cases of spousal abuse, mental illness, substance abuse, etc.
7. He/she left so I’m free to remarry.
Well, I suppose so. But, if you stay at the line of reconciliation, eventually the person will cycle back and want you back and if you’re not taken you’ll be free to remarry your ex, which is probably always best for the children. This arrangement usually ends in divorce again, though, just so you know.
8. We have nothing in common.
What you’re really saying is he/she doesn’t want to do what you want to do. People do not get divorced because one partner likes to watch TV and the other one likes to fish all the time. “We have nothing in common” is also code for lots of things…
9. I don’t love him/her anymore.
Sadly, it’s likely you never did.
10. We fight all the time, so this is better for the children.
Probably not. More than 10 years ago, a 25-year landmark study revealed the longterm effects of divorce on children. They’re terrible. As it turns out, a bad (read: bad, not abusive or addiction-laced) marriage is better than a good divorce.
Finally, I am working on a new eBook about divorce. It’s called Why Juey Always Have to Leave? I’ve written it for my two younger children who ask this question every other weekend when their big sister, Juliette, has to go and stay at “another house.” This book will be my attempt to answer their lingering question.