Relative Evolutions - Evolve, Don't Dissolve
Apr 29, 2015 - marriage    No Comments

What is a Successful Marriage?

wedding picI used to think the general consensus was that a “successful marriage” meant the couple stayed together until parted by death. Perhaps that’s the most prevalent assumption, but it seems I was wrong in thinking timing was the primary definition of marital achievement.

A few weeks ago, I was discussing marriage and divorce with a friend who believes our culture is too accepting of divorce. She told me that even people in her church family have divorced without social consequence in their community of worship. (I hypothesize the divorced might feel differently)

“I think it’s really sad when people can’t work it out,” she told me.

She didn’t understand when I suggested her very statement might feel condescending and shaming to someone going through the process.

I decided to turn the tables a little. “What about people who decide to work it out by evolving their marriage to less traditional terms?” I asked. “Like, what if they mutually agree to an open relationship instead of a monogamous one?”

She curled her lip and rolled her eyes. “Those people need to get divorced,” she insisted.

“But they’re ‘working it out.’ Isn’t that what you want people to do? To stay together?”

Apparently it’s not that simple.

I should’ve known.  And, I guess I always did know… maybe I’m just hypersensitive at this time. Those who judge the success of others’ marriages do so on many levels.  It’s not just about the End Date.

A few days ago another friend pointed me to a Facebook page where I read a debate about the role of God and the presence of Satan in marriage. Supposedly, marriage is an institution of God and therefore any marital issues are evidence of Satan, who seeks to disrupt and destroy all that is of God.  Not everyone agreed. (What about when two Satanists get married?)

But… why does any of this matter?  Why do we care how many people are involved in a marriage?  What does it matter what their genders are (#SCOTUS)?  What right do outsiders have to insist a couple follow a certain sexual code of conduct?  And as long as marriage requires a legal license and impacts tax filing statuses, religious beliefs need not be universal within the institution.

If participants feel comfortable, respected and fulfilled by their partnership, so be it! And if they don’t, let them make other arrangements.

Mar 26, 2015 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Let’s Talk About Failed Marriages

If you listen, you’ll hear a lot of talk about failed marriages.  But what’s the real topic in such discussions?  The answer is divorce.

Divorce is indicative of a failed marriage (at least for those who choose to use such terminology), but the truth is the marriage failed long before a divorce was set in motion.  Yet nobody talks about those failures because the marriage is still “intact.”

candlesMarriage ceremonies feature sacred vows which are supposed to bind two people to each other for as long as they both shall live.  In most cases, some version of “til death do us part” is incorporated into those vows.  But it’s not the only promise a couple makes on their wedding day.  They also swear to love and honor one another.  They pledge to be faithful and devoted.  They use words like “cherish” to describe their regard for their partner and partnership.

Now… how many intact marriages are comprised of faithful individuals who love, honor and respect each other?  Each year hundreds of thousands of couples go to marriage counseling, most likely because, on some level, the vows were broken.   Do we point fingers at those in therapy and insist their marriages failed?  Not really.

Why is it that we only grade marriages based on one vow (and by the way, not everyone says that anymore)?  It it because that one is more important?  Is it because that’s the only one evident to outsiders?  Is it because we’d prefer to bury our heads in the sand rather than face the shame of failure due to a multitude of factors outside simple “divorce”?

If we expect marriage to be taken seriously, shouldn’t we value more that just the end date?

Mar 4, 2015 - divorce, marriage    No Comments

Did S/he Cheat? Does it Matter?

woman aloneSeveral years ago I had the feeling my partner was having an affair.  When I questioned him, he told me I was crazy, insecure and possessive.  During that period of our relationship, he did a lot of screaming while I did a lot of crying.

Did he cheat on me?  I couldn’t prove it, and he insisted he was innocent, so I stayed in the relationship.

Since then, I’ve heard many similar stories from people who desperately want to believe the best about their partners.  Sometimes they justify, “it was only an emotional affair.”  Sometimes they fall back on The No Proof Excuse.

In the end, the result is the same:  Someone ignores his or her intuition and turns the other cheek.  Throughout the process, these victims question themselves, their motives, their sanity and their sense of security.  They might seek counseling to help get over their “issues” and be better, more trusting partners.  All the while, the other half of the couple is free to continue working late, hiding his/her phone and enjoying weekly 6-hour “dentist appointments.”

As a result of my experience, I spent a lot of time reflecting on that dark period in my partnership.  Eventually, I decided I’d been asking the wrong question.

The issue isn’t “Is my partner cheating?”

A more appropriate inquiry is, “Does this relationship meet my needs?”

I should’ve asked:

Do I feel loved?
Do I feel safe?
Do I trust this person?
Does s/he respect me?
Do we communicate effectively?

The list will be different for everyone, but I think it behooves us all to have such a list.  In order for a relationship to be healthy, we need to tune in to ourselves and determine our individual level of fulfillment.  Why do we have a tendency to push our needs aside and wait for someone else to commit a socially (un)acceptable sin before we entertain the idea of cutting the cord?

I suppose I know the answers:  We don’t want our intuition to be right.  We don’t want to “fail.”  We don’t want to “lose.”  We don’t want to look bad.  We don’t want the kids to feel bad.  We don’t want to bring shame to our families and communities.

On the surface, those are all noble reasons to stay put and not make a fuss.  But are they really?  Isn’t a marriage with no respect more of a failure than a marriage that doesn’t last Forever?  Aren’t the kids going to feel even worse when they realize they were the reason Mom and Dad kept themselves miserable?  Are we really so selfish as to think our actions can dictate how outsiders feel about themselves?

There comes a point when silence and sacrifice become suffocating and suicidal.  If you don’t stand up for yourself and your needs, who will?

A marriage shouldn’t survive at the expense of its participants.

Feb 26, 2015 - divorce    No Comments

Should Divorce Gifts Be a Thing?

In a recent article for DivorcedMoms.com, I stated my preferred “No Shower, No Gifts” policy to go into effect in the event that I get married again.  I’m a grown woman with a house full of stuff, and I imagine I’d marry a man of similar description.  Why would we need gifts?

A friend argued against my suggestion.  “Presents are always appropriate,” Missy insisted.

Several days later, I asked Missy how she feels about the idea of giving gifts for a divorce.

“I’d do it for a close friend who needed support,” she told me.  I peppered her with more inquiries to clarify her thoughts on the issue:  She would give a card and flowers to ease a broken heart, but she wouldn’t present a present in the spirit of celebration.

“Did you get gifts when you got divorced?” She asked.

As a matter of fact, I didn’t receive any gifts when I separated from my husband.  At the time, I didn’t think twice about it.  I didn’t consider the concept of Divorce Gifts until…

Many moons ago, I was in a grocery store, on my way to the checkout with a big beautiful butternut squash in my hand.  I was happy and hungry until I realized, due to my recent separation, I no longer owned a knife capable of cutting through my prized produce.

Since then, I’ve wondered why Divorce Gifts aren’t part of our culture.  Society at large gives gifts for graduations, new homes, new babies and new spouses….  Why aren’t friends, neighbors and coworkers willing to send a smartly-wrapped spatula or small appliance to the newly-separated?

toolsThe reality is that divorced people need more than just legal advice.  For instance, they’ll need a second set of beds/bedding for their children. Someone will be without pots, pans, dishes and/or silverware.  One might need a new vacuum cleaner while the other needs a toaster oven.  And someone will be without a basic set of tools.

A few weeks ago, I emailed a major US retailer and suggested they offer the option of a “Support Registry.”  I’d love to see more Wish List options for people to communicate their material needs.  Such an alternative could be utilized by anyone needing to start over, for any reason.

Maybe this idea will catch on after more families opt for a Divorce Ceremony.  What do you think?

Feb 18, 2015 - divorce    No Comments

If a Good Divorce is Possible, Why Not Stay Married?

I hear the question all the time, “Well, if two people can have an amicable divorce then why don’t they stay married?”

I suppose it’s a reasonable question.

In order to answer it, I ask that you take a mental voyage with me.  Let’s go to a playground full of frolicking children…

It’s a hot, sunny day and a group of kids are having a discussion.

Child #1 points to the sky.  “That cloud looks like a bowl of ice cream.”

Child #2 exclaims, “I love ice cream!”

Child #3, in a sing-songy voice, replies, “Then why don’t you marry it?”

You’ve heard that one right?  And it’s a positively ridiculous suggestion, is it not?

Lifelong commitments simply aren’t that simple.

ice cream

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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