Maybe it's because we've just swung by Valentine's Day or maybe there's another reason, but my spiritual alignment practice is suddenly jammed with people who are either mid-divorce, contemplating divorce or recovering from divorce. What's going on?
At the risk of citing that old, tired statistic yet again... we all know that fifty percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce. Why might that be?
I think it's because people get married for lots of incorrect reasons. We marry to get out of unbearable situations. We marry to start over. We marry to get things settled. We marry because we're infatuated. We marry because we like being married. We marry because we're in love. We marry because we're in lust. We marry to forget. We marry to remember. We marry because we're afraid to be alone. We marry because of the social standing it brings. The mother of a friend of mine explained that she got married because the invitations had already been sent. There are as many reasons to marry as there are souls on Earth.
In fact, we're pretty good at getting married. Where the trouble enters is in the staying married part. Why? In a nutshell, it's hard to stay married. It takes time, energy, patience, investment. It takes a choice, an everyday choice, to be married and to stay married.
But what if you just can't do it? Or what if you're in a marital situation that's become hazardous to your health? Well, then, my friend, it is time to get divorced. In my book God's Dictionary, I discuss the etymology of the word divorce; it means not right. Note, it does not mean wrong, just not right.
I need to interrupt here and add that the staying-together-for-the-kids thing is a terrible idea. Do you really want your children to have your unhappy or miserable or cruel or distant marriage as the example of what marriage is? Children, after all, imitate their parents. I can't tell you the number of clients I've worked with who had to unravel their parents' marriage(s) before they could construct their own.
So divorce can be done as many ways as marriage can be done. You can do the legal thing -- it's an expense way to go. It's one of the reasons that when my sweetie and I got married, we spent a lot of time negotiating a pre-nup. We got it down to seven words: Show up, pray through it, no lawyers.
You can also do the psychological thing. I know one couple who refused to go into therapy to save their marriage. Whilst they were mid-divorce, they went to therapy to sort out how to continue to relate civilly so they could raise their teenagers kindly.
You can also do the broken-hearted victim version of divorce.
You can do the escapist version -- I don't want to hear about it.
You can do the blame version -- it's all the other person's fault.
You can also do the real or spiritual version of divorce.
The best divorce I ever witnessed was between two people who had simply drifted apart. No one was wrong, but the marriage had become not right. So they very calmly decided to divorce. Together they went out and got an inexpensive studio apartment. Week after week the parents alternated moving back into the house where their high school sophomore daughter lived. She wasn't upset; they got their space. They lived this arrangement for two years till their daughter went to college.
The spiritual version of divorce is simple. Both parties take responsibility for their part of the dissolution. Both parties speak kindly to one another. Both parties acknowledge hurt feelings. Both parties work on forgiving themselves. Both parties tell the truth to the best of their ability at all times. Both parties know that no one was wrong.
Marriage is an agreement between two people, as a rule. Sometimes agreements need to be changed -- especially the ones that have become not right. As Mike Dooley, magical author of Notes from the Universe, wrote recently, "All endings are happy endings." That's what divorce is meant to be.
P.S. American politics could learn a little something here. Kindness. No blame. Communication. Actually wanting to right what's not right. Just a thought.