The New Divorce and How It Affects the Modern Family

07/15/2013 05:40 pm ET

Divorce has been defined as "a separation between things that were or ought to be connected." I particularly like the phrase "ought to be" here. While all definitions of "divorce" seem to imply a severing and ending of relationships, the word itself derives from the word "divert," which seems to better imply what a family usually experiences with a divorce.

Divorce is the ending of something that was between a husband and wife. But what about additional relationships that were born of this marriage? Some of these include extended family, in the case of in-laws. And others include children. Such a dissolution speaks nothing of these additional parts that were created in a marriage. Instead it only accounts for the legal duties that are between the husband and wife.

(As an aside, it should be noted that, when I am speaking of divorce here, I am only speaking of those that had the addition of children, as distinct from what is called a "short divorce" -- when a couple has no children, extensive time, nor much real property between them at the time of divorce.)

Embarking upon a marriage, I never estimated what would happen should the marriage "dissolve." And going through a divorce, what I would later discover was that I would pine away from our initial love, which would now need to be transformed into something that was real and true between my now ex-husband and our children.

Prior to getting married, I had heard many things about marriage -- and everyone seemed to be in a rush to get there. But few spoke of what seemed to be happening to many among us: divorce. And none really had solutions.

After our divorce, what I quickly realized was that my now-ex was not going anywhere. Although our divorce was the end of "something," it was really not the end at all, but rather a beginning of "something else." A relationship not entirely unlike a marriage, yet definitely not husband and wife.

It's since occurred to me that most marriages are somewhat doomed from the start, since they rarely begin with any sort of strategic plan. Any agreements at all are often tacit in nature. There is typically very little forethought, and no accommodations for change or adjustment, short of the popularly advertised exit method: divorce. But I certainly never had an exit plan for my marriage; I didn't think I needed one. Who would, really? If the intention to marry was pure, there should be no reason for one. It's interesting, but I realized that I was never really on board with the idea of divorce until I one day saw that our goals and wishes were no longer the same. In fact, maybe they were never the same. But even if they initially had been, discussing and agreeing to things before entering into the marriage, I now believe, could have helped enormously.

So what am I trying to convey here?

I guess that I had thought divorce would somehow solve the problems of our marriage. But it actually seemed to exacerbate them -- at least at first. And I kept wondering why, if we were divorced, would my ex just not just go away. Why did I still have to deal with him if we were divorced? Well, the most important and obvious answer is: the kids. I had to confront the fact that my ex was not disappearing. And that even in divorce, we still needed to not only work the usual things out, but also work out the divorce itself. We still needed to sort out our differences and learn to get along.

So, in our case, there was no "severing or ending" of a relationship. There was no instant and easy solution to our marital problems. And there was certainly no dissolving of duties -- not ultimately. There was only a diverting of course, an altering of duties, a revision of overall plans and purposes. And in the end -- in our case, thankfully -- the problems were worked out. The relationship, although now different in nature, was not only intact and amicable, but oddly enough had come full circle and wound up where my now ex-husband and I had first begun. As friends -- and fast ones at that.

Now, I know the above will not be the case for all divorcees. But it is my sincere hope that it could be -- or that my experience could at least assist in some way those entering into or exiting from the institution of marriage.

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