Thursday, June 5, 2014

I Won't Judge Your Marriage If You Won't Judge My Divorce.

Well, to begin with - I lied in the title. I will strive not to judge your marriage regardless of whether you hold up your end of the bargain or not. People judging other people harshly for any reason is just not a good thing.

Ever have themes that you seem to run across - over and over? Lately that theme for me has been articles and blogs and personal conversations on marriage. In particular marriages that have faced considerable challenges and yet, through some miracle or another, the couple managed to work through their issues and their marriage was saved. I have struggled with how to express my reaction to these stories without sounding bitter. Because I truly do celebrate when a couple is able to succeed. I do. Marriage is incredibly hard, but I also believe it is incredibly worth it. What I resent, though, is the underlying implication that if THESE couples can make it then EVERY marriage can succeed if only we (insert whatever successful couple did) enough.  I struggle not to get defensive, because my first marriage did NOT survive. It was not because I didn't try enough or love him enough or work hard enough or offer sex enough or clean the house enough or forgive enough or pray enough or do ANYTHING enough. I did all of that and more....for 23 years. When it finally ended it was devastating and to this day it hurts to admit that it really was the best thing that could have happened for me and my children.

I want my friends whose marriages are surviving and (hopefully) thriving to know that I truly do rejoice with them. I rejoice even though there is a little voice inside of me that wants to scream at them to be vigilant and be wary and not take each other for granted and don't get complacent and don't think that just because you have lasted for 20-plus years you can relax and not work at it. Because marriages do end and not just because of silly, ridiculous reasons and when they do it hurts and I don't want anyone else to go through what I have had to go through. 

I suppose what I am really struggling with is how do we find a way to show grace to each other in these situations? I don't like feeling judged and because of that I want to try very hard not to do that to others. It has been a long, hard lesson for me. For many years I was one of those voices who said, "If I can stay married in spite of everything that has happened then so should everyone else." As you can imagine, I have had to do some hard re-thinking on that. I don't want to take way from the success of others who have overcome hardships in their marriage. I really don't. What I wish for is some way for them to celebrate their success without implying that those of us who don't succeed just gave up too easily. Trust me - my own sense of failure is a big enough burden to carry without adding judgment from others.
  • Adding this because I keep hearing my friend who hates the word "sucks" telling me how people who use it have no vocabulary. At least it will prove I can use Google to find synonyms - if, like her, you don't like the word sucks feel free to substitute any of the following: Atrocious, Awful, Cheap, Crummy, Dreadful, Lousy, Poor, Rough, Sad, Unacceptable, Blah, Bummer, Diddly, Downer, Garbage, Gross, Imperfect, Inferior, Junky, Synthetic, Abominable, Amiss, Bad news, Beastly, Bottom out, Careless, Cheesy, Crappy, Cruddy, Defective, Deficient, Dissatisfactory, Erroneous, Fallacious, Faulty, God-awful, Grody, Grungy, Icky, Inadequate, Incorrect, Not good, Off, Raunchy, Slipshod. Stinking, Substandard, The pits, or Unsatisfactory.
  • Personally - I prefer sucks. It is rude and unsavory and yucky - just like divorce.
Divorce sucks. Period. As a single, divorced, mother of three I heartily agree that we are much too cavalier about divorce in our society. But I am not here to argue over which divorces should or should not have happened. Personal experience has brought me (kicking and screaming all the way) to have to admit that not EVERY marriage is destined to succeed. Because of what I have been through I know that once it has happened it does much more harm than good to focus on that failure. You see, I really do believe it is better to offer grace to each other. Rather than judge someone for the failure of ending up divorced I choose to offer kindness instead. We can't undo the past, but we can offer hope for the future. I hope to do my best to celebrate each other's successes - and offer support and comfort when heartbreak happens. Life is hard enough without judging each other. So, please stop.