Like dominoes I see marriages falling down. Some for more obvious and irrevocable circumstances than others. The shock can be incredible when you see a friend blindsided, their life turned upside down, their kids manipulated, and their home divided. I'm not pretending to be God here and judging everyone, I'm just noticing something that shocks me.
Especially when it happens to a perfect family. When I say perfect, then you better trust I mean perfect. One day I got a text. Where are you? I said I'm out walking the dog.. she said, "I'll come meet you." Nothing about her gave away the news, but as she walked towards me I said "You're not getting divorced are you?" And her beautiful face crinkled in pain as we hugged and she said "Yes."
There are no words for a man that will leave a perfect wife and kids for someone that shags them and feeds their ego.
There are words, but I will save them. Around the same time as this domino fell, another friend was discovering that she married a fraud. Like in the movies where they change their name and addresses and rip people off and do it over and over again. My friend never expected to divorce, but she had no choice.
And then there are the divorces that are almost over before you know about them and looking at their sweet family Facebook photos you just can't imagine what happened? There are the divorces where you think "Yay! You got caught you cheater", but even then, the aftermath of suffering for the kids takes away any sense of justice.
In some cases these divorces can seem like very positive experiences for everyone. Thank God for Facebook (insert sarcasm) and all the happy photos of new girlfriends and boyfriends and the results of the divorce diet paying off. I see the new divorcees with every other weekend to themselves, working out, going away for the weekend, and looking quite happy. I often wonder if everyone should go through a mock divorce just to refresh themselves and get some rest.
Perusing the 22 page National Health Statistics Report on Marriages and Divorce Rate Data, I read that "Current estimates of divorce indicate that about half of first marriages end in divorce." The divorce rate for second marriages is 67 percent and third marriages 73 percent. Do we all find each other so contemptuous after so many years? Do we truly believe that the grass is greener on the other side? Or is it more likely that if you are broken before you commit your life to someone you will blame them for not mending you.
It takes a lot to leave a marriage, but it takes more to stay. It takes Guts. Responsibility. Character. Honesty. Respect. Work. Empathy. Understanding. Humility. Humor. Forgiveness. Commitment. Willingness. Discipline. Boundaries. Priorities. Marriage takes more than a wedding or a baby. My sister Tina Turner said it best: "Love is a second-hand emotion." Love comes from all of the aforementioned qualities. Consider love a cake, you have to have all the ingredients. Maybe that is why we eat cake at weddings. It's actually quite symbolic.
Here are some vows for all of us married or engaged or not:
I vow to be better than I was, kinder than I thought I could be, and more forgiving than I want.
I vow to be honest with myself so that I can be honest with you.
I vow to not purposefully and intentionally say or do things that hurt you.
I vow to protect, adore and respect every part of our life together.
I vow to not expect perfection, as I cannot deliver it.
And I vow to learn from you because there is so much inside you that I love.
Let's learn from all of our friends that are going through or have gone through the pain of their marriage shattering. Let's realize that marriage is not a party or a fairy tale. It's an opportunity to learn about yourself and be your best. It's your choice. Marriage is not making vows.. it's keeping them.