I Wish People Would Stop Their Judgment of Divorce.

I encounter a lot of judgment around divorce. Even sometimes from those who are divorced.

Lately I’ve been asking for it. I started posting unofficial polls on social media to see what people have to say about the topic.

Many people think they have it allllll figured out. As if this “problem” of divorce can be summed up in a couple short sentences.

“Couples just give up too easily.”
“These young people don’t value commitment.”
“Divorce is too easy to get.”
“Divorce has become too acceptable.”
“We live in a throw-away culture.”

It reminds me of a conversation I had several years ago. I was talking to someone about my work, and he confessed his confusion.

“I don’t understand why people do it,” the man told me.  “I’ve been married for more than thirty years, and even during the worst of times I never considered divorce.”

“That’s great,” I congratulated him.

“We had some bad times,” he assured me.  “But I never wanted to live without her.”

“And that’s the difference,” I explained.  “There were times when I would rather have died than continue to live in my marriage.”

As his mind opened, his face changed from a countenance of confidence to one of humble sympathy.  It was as if he’d never considered such a reality.

And most people don’t.

Those who feel the need to make those judgmental diagnoses about marriage, divorce, and culture are usually operating from one solitary perspective. They look through the lens of their own lives and experiences.

Their beliefs might come from a different place, or a different time. Maybe they come from a different religion.

But one thing those judgments all have in common? Ignorance.

They don’t know the intimate details of the divorces they condemn. Nor do they know the true details of the marriages they celebrate.

They don’t know about the threats and fears.
They haven’t seen the bruises.
They don’t know how many therapists have been consulted.
They haven’t heard the screams.
They don’t know that the kids can’t sleep at night.
They haven’t wiped all those tears.
They don’t know about the sorrows drowned in alcohol.
They haven’t heard the desperate prayers.
They don’t know about the swallowed pills or sliced wrists.

I’d like to remind these people of the wise words of Atticus Finch: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view….Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Of course, that’s literally impossible. And figuratively difficult.

It’s easy to maintain simple explanations for things around us. It’s more comfortable to judge. It feels safer to diagnose and then put some distance between oneself and a perceived wrong.

And so, when I encounter these judgments, I want to scream and tell people to STFU… But that’s often inappropriate.

I’m a professional.
And I want to be a compassionate human being.

Compassion.

Like I want from others.

So, maybe the best I can do is let my frustration remind me that human beings are ego-driven, emotionally messy creatures. Those people don’t know everything. But neither do I.

I’m working on trading my anger for curiosity. I’ve made a decision to ask questions and hold space and honor others’ needs.

Of course that doesn’t mean I don’t scream into pillows and vent into sympathetic ears.

But I’m trying. And maybe through broader dialog, we can find greater understanding.

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