IntrepidWoman's Journey

Besides not being greener, the grass might also have a lot more weeds…

Posted on: June 21, 2012

I know of five couples in my sons’ generation who are in various stages of getting divorced. What do they have in common? All are mid 30s to early 40s, most husbands and wives have demanding jobs, all have mortgages and several other debts, and one partner in each is leaving because they are ‘not happy’. The most important similarity of four of them – they have young children.

It weighs heavy on my heart to be surrounded by these families going through such pain, tearing apart homes, dividing hard-earned assets, taking children out of their homes and away from their friends and punishing the other parent to being part-time with their children for the rest of their lives.

In three of these cases, it is the wife who has chosen to leave. In at least two of the five marriages, the “I’m not happy” is code for “I have found someone else.”  It makes me very angry and desperately sad because they are being so totally self-centred.

It is just too easy to call it quits. No one works at it anymore. Marriages have become part of the throw-away mentality. This generation is supposed to be so wise and so worldly, but some of them are missing out on a huge truth. Marriage is hard work and should not be gone into lightly or with the idea that you can leave if you don’t like it. It is extremely difficult to live with another person and to share decisions about where, why, when, who and how many. When you have children it gets even harder to work together as a team and also keep the romance alive.

There are cycles in marriage. At many points along the way, you may find that so much has happened with children and jobs that you do not talk as much as you used to. There is an ebb and flow to marriage. There is lots of truth to the seven-year itch concept or seven-year cycle.

The wise ones know this. Many people who are married for the second time know this. If they learn anything from the first time around, it is that you both have to work hard at being married, all the time, and it is unrealistic to expect your partner to make you happy. It is also unrealistic to expect to be happy all the time.

One young woman crushed her husband with “I’m not happy”, taking his two young daughters and most of the money and making him a part-time dad. After the dust settled, she confessed that she still was not happy. Duh! Well neither is the ex-husband who can’t sleep and spends all his free time running when not waiting to see his girls.

Two of the people have discovered they are unhappy through yoga and meditation – the ‘Eat,  Pray, Love Movement’. Awaken your inner feelings, cleanse your past hurts, etc. etc. The problem is, after all this awareness at a serene retreat getaway, you are bounced back into the reality of life with no guidance on how to deal with the issues you brought to the surface during your fantasy week away. The result – you are unhappy with your life. The next step – change it by walking away from an investment of several years with another person who entered the relationship for the long-term.

I am not saying a person should stay if their partner is abusive or brings problems to the marriage by gambling or drinking, etc. But with all these couples I know, one partner in each relationship is choosing to walk away and their partners are hard-working and fully hands-on parents to their children. Most of the partners do not want a divorce.

The worst part, expressed by one young woman, is the total disregard to what is happening to the children during the breakup. This mom said she is so proud how well her child is handling everything. He is not being affected at all, she said, even though he is bounced back and forth between two temporary homes and crying when each parent leaves. Others are seeing how fragile he is and how he cries easily these days. Sometimes his eyes are so sad. He is a very young child who is being forced to grow up too soon.

His mother is one of the parents who has found someone else, but instead of admitting this, says that she is not happy and needs to find herself. It is only greener on the other side of the fence when you are in the initial stages of the ‘romance’. It wont take long if they remarry, to get to the same stages of finances and family concerns to deal with as a couple, including the whole new bag of problems that will emerge when blending families.

I wish there were laws that made it more difficult to get married. Couples should have to take mandatory courses that talk about the cycles of married life, the difficulties of finances and how having children changes everything, and the process of divorce and how it affects children, all before they can apply for a marriage licence.

I used to think that it is better that many couples are waiting until their 30s to get married, after having some years to find out about themselves first. I am not so sure now. As I look at a lot of them, what I see are self-centred, selfish adults who resent having to put children first and are unhappy to not be able to live the way they did when they did not have the responsibilities connected to marriage.

It is time to grow up and put your children first. They did not ask to be born and you owe them. Don’t leave the marriage without really working whole-heartedly at it through counselling with your partner. It deserves a commitment of several months to try to fix it instead of a quick walk out the door. Examine your lifestyle. If money has you by the throat because you measure success by square footage and the price of your toys, that does not help a relationship.

Are you really better off without that other person? Yes, they are not perfect. Yes they have made mistakes and done some stupid things, but you both have. It always takes two.

Best quote I ever saw: “If he was perfect, he would not have married you.”   Sure made me think, back in 1976 when I was getting a divorce.

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2 Responses to "Besides not being greener, the grass might also have a lot more weeds…"

Excellent Blog Jan! Spot on.

On a lighter note – a couple who have been married for 25 years, always said that if one of them wanted out of the marriage they had to take the kids. That kind of humour can help sustain during the tough times.

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