Monday, February 13, 2012

Divorce is Always an Option

I've been hearing about a lot of divorces lately, and not just among all of those superficial Hollywood relationships, but people I know; people I actually thought would make it. I'm bothered every time I hear about another divorce – not because I judge those couples. I don't know what happened to their relationships or whether our marriage could have survived if it happened to us. Rather, divorce bothers me because it reminds me of the vulnerability of my own marriage. Just like the tragic death of a young person reminds me of my own mortality and causes me to drive more carefully or take safety more seriously, when a seemingly happy couple throws in the towel, I remember that no marriage is completely divorce-proof.

I hear a lot of couples say very righteously, “Well, for us, divorce just isn’t an option.” As sweet as that sounds, I’m not really convinced that such a belief can provide a permanent safeguard for your marriage. For one thing, it can stifle your sense of freedom, leaving you feeling trapped as if you're not in your marriage by choice. Isn't it empowering to know that either one of you could leave at any time, but you stay because you choose each other every day? Believing that divorce isn't possible also provides a false sense of security that can blind you to the daily sacrifices and compromises that come with sharing every aspect of your life and yourself with another person. Rather, let us all remember that divorce is always an option because that’s the reality. I know people who have had a harder time breaking an apartment lease than filing for a divorce. 

I bet if you could rewind the clock to their wedding day, many divorced couples would never have predicted that their marriages would end the way they did. Some of them might claim that they had doubts from the beginning, but most people would not choose to marry someone if they knew for certain that divorce would be the result. Some of them might even be the same people who once said, “divorce is not an option,” but in the face of extreme negative emotions, it’s impossible not to be aware of that possibility.

As much as I would like to say that there's no possibility of Matt and I ever getting divorced, I know that's not necessarily the most realistic line of thinking. We're still in the early stages of our marriage, and there are plenty of rough times ahead. Our commitment to each other, support for each other, and faith in each other will no doubt meet their challenges over the years. There may even come a day when we find ourselves on the brink of calling it quits. As much as those thoughts can be scary, that possibility is what fuels us to find other ways to safeguard our relationship. It reminds us to nurture our marriage, take time for each other, and resist taking each other for granted. Most importantly, it encourages us to hold each other when we're tired, love each other when we're angry, and listen to each other even when we disagree because, despite what we often allow ourselves to believe, divorce is always an option. 

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