Autumn Leaves
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This is a guest post by Tom Stine. His blog tomstine.com is about spirituality and awakening. I have reviewed Tom’s blog and pointed to a number of his posts. I’m delighted to have him as a guest on my blog.

I recently read an article on divorce that contained the usual “facts” that we all simply know are true about divorce: It’s a failure on the part of both spouses. They should have been able to fix their marriage somehow. The children are badly wounded by the divorce and never really recover. And on and on.

But let me ask you: are these supposed facts indeed true? Rather than try to get into the ups and downs of psychological research, let’s take a look at these views from a wider perspective.

To be honest, I think if this is your perspective on the ending of relationships, then you may not understand why people break-up. The simple fact of the matter is that some relationships end. It is not a failing. It isn’t a question of “the ego took over” or that people failed to live up to their commitments. It isn’t a failure for the kids. It isn’t one person put their interests before the other. None of that is true.

Life has cycles. There is birth. There is living of life. But for every birth, there is a death. Death is an absolute fact of life. Given that all relationships that are born eventually experience a death, an ending (whether via break-up or the death of one partner), I think it is time to change our naive notions of “until death do us part.” We should acknowledge up front that most relationships end. So let’s get rid of the guilt up front and acknowledge the facts of life!

Yes, I’m divorced. It was a mutual decision. We both knew that our relationship, which started wonderfully and had many, many amazing moments, was dead and needed to END. I hated it, she hated it, and still it ended. Our son has thrived since our split up after 13 years of being married. He is happy, we are happy, and I dearly love my ex-wife. But I am very grateful we split up (and it was my ex who pulled the plug).

I would encourage everyone to get out of the one-size fits all notions about marriage, relationships and divorce. Divorce can and is a very good choice for many couples. And no less spiritual than marriage.

Because the religions of the world have pushed marriage and monogamy as the only option for relationships, there is a prevailing view even today that somehow marriage is more spiritual than being single or getting divorced. In fact, my divorce was the greatest boost to my spiritual development of anything I’ve experienced. Out of suffering can come bliss.

Once I got divorced, I was amazed at how my life suddenly included lots of divorced people. Married people tend to know lots of married people, and most married people would agree with your viewpoint. But my new divorced friends and acquaintances would be the first to tell you that divorce was the absolutely best solution. It wasn’t a question of just “working stuff out.” The relationship died, and for no fault of anyone. That’s simply what happens sometimes. Relationships die. And there is nothing you can do about it.

As for children, I think that the prevailing wisdom that kids are always hurt by divorce may not be true. Let’s be honest: children can be hurt emotionally and mentally when parents are less than ideal. We all know that. But we also know that this is true whether parents are together or divorced. I know there has been considerable research on the difficulties that children of divorced parents face (I’ve read a lot of it, too). But are these any different from the difficulties faced by kids of nuclear families? No. Too often, research can obscure an issue as much if not more than it can enlighten it.

I’ve talked to a number of experienced psychologists and therapists, both as colleague and client, and heard the same thing: it all depends on the parents. And we all know that, don’t we? If mom and dad grow, change, evolve, grow wiser and healthier after divorce, then the kids tend to follow right along. That’s been my experience with my son. But it is the same story with children of married parents, too. It isn’t a question of married or divorced, is it? It’s a parenting issue.

Am I championing divorce? No, but I am offering an alternative view. Let life flow as it flows. Let love bloom, let it shine, and let if fade. The more we allow the cycles of life to flow, the happier we are and the more beautiful life is. Even if that flow is to end a long-time relationship and become divorced. Spirit is everywhere, even in the midst of sorrow and difficulties.

Tom Stine is a writer, spiritual life coach and teacher. He loves to write about spirituality and spiritual awakening and to explore how spirituality can bring about transformation and amazing changes in our lives.

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11 Comments to “Divorce Is A Good Choice, Too”

  1. Barbara says:

    Hi Tom,

    About two years ago I went to hear the Dalai Lama speak. Besides being an amazing experience, he took some questions from the audience which numbered in the thousands.

    A very young girl talked about just this type of situation, she and her young husband had just stopped growing, She wanted to know what to do. The Dalai Lama said matter of factly – well, divorce of course, why would you stay? For just a short moment, much of the audience was stunned, certainly not expecting advice other than making an attempt for repair. The secondary response was nervous laughter. Until finally folks realized the truth in what they had heard, and a different type of silence ensued as we sat with both the question and answer.

    It had become a very profound moment for everyone, almost surreal. I suspect most profound for those in the audience whose marriages and awareness were not yet equal to the young lady willing to ask the question.

    I think divorce only affects and effects negatively if it breaks something of value, so just an unwillinness to do what is necessary to preserve if there is something worth preserving. As you clearly stated, the value was no longer alive for you and your wife. And I think, like the young girl, the value was in being cognizant of the death she was trying to live with.

  2. Tom Stine says:

    Hi Barbara,

    Thanks for the comment. Your story is amazing. The Dalai Lama had it perfect, so obvious in hindsight. I admit, it wasn’t quite so obvious when the “axe fell” but it didn’t take long to be seen for what it was. Thanks very much for sharing the story.

  3. Melissa says:

    I agree completely. Sometimes it is the RIGHT thing to do. If it is done with respect and careful consideration for the children involved it doesn’t have to hurt them to the point that they are scarred for life. It is when people become monsters and rip each other apart in front of their kids that things get very, very ugly and can damage the way children see relationships in the future.

  4. My own relationship of nearly 3 years finally fell apart three days ago, so this post really resonated with me. We had been growing apart for some time and it was clear that things weren’t going anywhere fast.

    I hate it when people pull out platitudes about “marriage has to be worked at”, as if people whose relationships fail haven’t worked at it! Ultimately it’s about two people and those two people alone must decide when to call time.

  5. Here Here Tom. Children are not hurt by divorce. They’re hurt by parents who don’t recognize that their children deserve two parents to love and respect. My life certainly becaime more exciting and fulfilled after my marriage ended and my daughter is actually grateful that it did. Although she was very young ant the time and dreamed that we would get back together, as she grew older she appreciated her circumstances more and is very glad she had two homes.

  6. Mike S says:

    Yes, divorce if you must, but recognize that it’s not about “marriage,” it’s about relationship (marriage is simply a social institution that tends to take on different shapes as the society evolves or erodes).

    Of course, violence, drug addiction and infidelity are cause for attaining a safe distance. But other than that, rest assured that what you don’t work out in one intimate relationship, you will take with you to the next and the next (and this we call “serial monogamy”).

    I think we need to be careful of the ego’s justification for the pursuit of happiness and the over-reliance on others to make us ‘happy.’

    If you sever a relationship because you are not ‘happy,’ maybe you need to reexamine your mental constructs of ‘happiness.’ If you’re not happy, then maybe it’s you.

    Thanks,
    mike S

  7. Evan says:

    Thanks for your comment Mike. I’m sure it is true and worth thinking about. Evan

  8. Hairstyle says:

    In some cases divorce is must, especially if one spouse is unfaithful. Life is about new beginnings, so if you’re that unhappy always remember there is an alternative.

  9. Evan says:

    Thanks for your comment hairstyle.

  10. i had this article and thought of sharing it on your blog.

    To Have But Not To Be Hold
    What’s causing so many marriages, old and new, to founder these days?
    Although today divorce has lost its sting, it is not exactly welcome. In fact, sociologists still view it as a blot on the social structure, and the divorce rate in a state is often used as an indication of social decline.
    Where couples take their vows in religious or civil ceremonies their aim, by and large, is to live happily ever after. Yet many couples are unable to fulfill their marital vows and break up in two months, two years or twenty five years.
    Contemporary lifestyles, professional ambitions, a degree of financial independence, and unrealistic expectations have provided a breeding ground for this growing impermanence.
    On The Rocks – One Night
    After three days of riotous celebrations, t he grand finale was to be enacted in a five star honeymoon suite. And failed. The hunky bridegroom, fuelled by too much alcohol, too much exhaustion, too much excitement, could not consummate the marriage. The pert ‘n’ pretty bride flounced out of the tastefully trapped-out bedroom, went into the lounge and made a phone call. “Papa,” she wailed. “He’s gay!” Her parents returned within the hour, took her home, and started divorce proceedings.
    On The Rocks – Six Months
    When Rehaan and Ra shi got married after a nice long courtship, everybody prophesied a long innings. Articulate, attractive, leaping up corporate ladders, it seemed to be a match made in heaven. And then Rashi took to wearing shorts at home and little low-cut black dresses at family functions. Rehaan’s parents objected vociferously, Rashi sulked. “lf Rehaan can wear boxer shorts at home, why can’t I?” she queried. The marriage floundered over this rather innocuous issue. Rehaan admitted that she did have a point, but he couldn’t expect his parents to toe her Generation views. Neither would budge and a divorce is on the cards.
    On The Rocks – S Years
    Shayana conceded to an arranged marriage, so she dumped her lucrative job with an architect and agreed to play wife to a legal eagle. Cooking, deaning,
    looking after the twins who arrived after two years. After which Shayana piled on weight, while her self esteem plum metted. She refused to accompany Sandip to social events, but nagged him relentlessly about mythical affairs. One sad day he went to his parent’s home and never returned, leaving Shayana with enough of money to keep her satisfied. He has insisted on a divorce. “Enough is en o ugh, he explained.
    On The Rocks – 14 Years
    “I had been seeing someone r met over the Internet,” confessed Raj. “I was emotionally involved and seriously thinking of leaving Madhu to start a new life with this woman. When I told Madhu about the affair, she was devastated, and she threatened to commit suicide. Part of me wanted to run to this other woman, and another part of me felt obligated to stay because of the children.” The couple is still struggling to keep the marriage afloat after this deathblow.
    On The Rocks – 25 Years
    When Hamid walked out after his silver wedding, people wondered why. It was a love marriage and by his own admission Jasmine and he got on all right. There was no one else. He loved his kids. After working cheek-by-jowl with Hamid for a few years in the business which took off brilliantly, Jasmine became a lady of leisure – kitty partying, lunching, shopping. But her mid-life turned into a full blown crisis with crying jags and hysterics if he so much as stroked her hair. She refused to see a doctor. Hamid was frustrated and started coming home later and later. After their daughter was married and their son went abroad, he split and bought a new house in Pune where he set up a couple of consultancies. He has also developed a better relationship with his daughter.

    GOING FOR BROKE
    A study in the Mumbai Family Court shows that 90% of cases were filed less than a year after marriage, with 60% of couples aged between 21 and 30. 80% of wives left their homes on grounds of cruelty caused by mental and physical incompatibility. Says Ansuya Dutt, Mumbai-based divorce lawyer: ”The attitude of the young towards marriage is shockingly casual and frivolous. Early break-ups are rising. A glittering wedding that winds up in no time has become more and more common in urban India.” Rita Kapoor, marriage counsellor, cites possible reasons for early break-ups: ~Attitude and image problems top the list, followed by unrealistic expectations. Add this to communication breakdown, with many couples being clueless about their partners likes and dislikes, hopes and dreams, and you have a noxious brew.”
    THE FAST & THE FURIOUS
    Time was when marriages worked because they were governed by strong religious and traditional sanctions. With young couples the romance Un spools too fast. Most of them marry an image rather than a person. When reality intrudes such marriages crumble. Couples drift apart even when there is no battering, drunken scenes or affairs, although fidelity is fast losing its bite. Bruised egos and job pressures are also threats. The most trivial reasons can ignite a separation. Rina’s husband would not iron his own shirts. Anksh had sex with a colleague on a junket and somebody told his wife Latika refuses to quit her job as she wants to buy designer clothes when she pleases. She pays for a maid to look a her son. Says Mumbai-based psychiatrist Ashit Sheth: “Young professionals equate marriage with any other business or professional undertaking. The attitude is to give only as much as you get from the venture. Not less, not more. No one is willing to budge an inch.” Parents tend to support their own.
    “Twenty-five years ago a girl wanting a divorce came in alone,~ says Dutt, “because her parents would insist that she adjust and compromise and would say: You have made your bed, now lie in it. They believed in the sanctity of marriage, that it is forever.”
    “Today parents not only accompany their daughter, but insist on massive settlements which the man is incapable of paying. They do not mind that the man gets full custody of the children. They are happy to have their daughter at home – she will not only be a major wage earner, but will look after them, better than a son, in their old age.” Lawyers also advise young women “to dig your heels and stay put through thick and thin, under the marital roof, until a hefty settlement is made.”
    WHEN OLD IS NOT GOLD
    In long standing marriages psychological rather than social matters, translates into mental torture, physical violence or psychosomatic illnesses. Most often the marriage simply fades away without conflict or awareness. Any change happening – a job offer in another city, a passing fancy – is enough to bring the marriage to a quiet end. Richard Fenson, a British marriage counsellor and writer analysed the reasons for the failure of marriages over ten years.
    His findings may surprise you: “Good marriages fail more often than bad, because they were once good. A marriage that starts out perfectly well may gradually begin to generate gripes and grouses. Once the basic needs have been met, people develop higher needs of a more complex nature that are more difficult to satisfy, such as intellectual stimulation, shared values, romance, sexual excitement. This is what causes the Barbie ‘n’ Ken couple to become frustrated, discontented, outgrow one another and look elsewhere for ideal mates.”
    After 40 years as man and wife Roshan Cooper (74) dragged her 80-year-old husband Dadi Eruchshaw to the Parsi matrimonial court saying she “‘can no longer put up with the physical and mental harassment.” The Bombay High Court, which is hearing the case for the second time in 2-3 years, has once again asked Roshan and Dadi to settle their dispute amicably. At 70, Vicky, mother of two, grandmother of four, decided to end her marriage with her husband of 47 years. “I need to live my own life, to decorate my own home, to invite my friends over, to play cards, to travel with my Senior Citizen group.” Her erstwhile husband has always frowned upon these things. She now lives happily in a good sized one-bedroom flat, close to her eldest daughter and her family. When Freddy at 49 was offered a job in Singapore he took the opportunity to leap out of his 20- year-old marriage. I was terminally depressed, my parents are dead, my son is studying abroad.”
    He just left a message for Neela that it was over between them. “She won’t miss me,” he says. · Because all through our married life she spent most of her time with her mother and sister – talking to them, visiting them, discussing every fact of her life with them.” Her lawyer contacted him and he agreed to everything she wanted. In today’s context, “a marriage without mutual love, willingness and respect can stunt and destroy both partners. It should not be viewed as a license to trap a couple forever,” says Faroukh Bharucha, marriage counsellor. “It is pointless in living with a person when staying together creates more unhappiness to t he total environment. Guilt and pity are poisonous bonds and can lead to natural resentment. Sometimes divorce is the only solution.” Mumbai-based divorce lawyer Siddharth Soni is quoted in a morninger as saying that “Indians are becoming more individualists and aware, which is prompting many more couples to strike a blow for freedom from t he torture of a failing marriage. Add to that the inherent but newly expressed desire of many more Indians – of all ages – to start afresh because they remain economically active
    well past middle-age and the phenomenon of divorcing senior citizens suddenly starts to make more sense.” Soni says that older Indians may actually be thinking about themselves and what they want for the first time in their lives. “When one is past one’s prime, he or she has fewer strings – t he children are settled and independent and one is through with financial liabilities. So it may be the right time to think about oneself,” he says In agreement, Thomas Harnos, author of the Tm Okay, You’re OK” book writes: “To insist that a woman continues to live with a dispassionate and abusive man and never find happiness with anyone else is to discount t he importance of human dignity a favor of retribution. To insist that a man continues to stay put with a vengeful wife who denies any part in the determination of their marriage also discounts the principle of
    human dignity.”
    Strangely enough our generation of achievers which puts such a high premium on professional success, takes failure on the home front without batting in eyelid.
    They believe that failure in marriage is not an end but a beginning.
    THERE IS LIFE AFTER DIVORCE
    Researchers say that people who are divorced after a bad experience, actually aim to get remarried. Most divorced people eventually remarry. Men tend to remarry sooner than women, and those who are older and wiser, usually remain married. Women who remarry successfully are ready to conquer old inhibitions and anxieties. For many, divorce is seen as a growth experience by which they are able to find not only a new and more suitable partner, but a greater awareness of themselves – what they need, and what they have to give to a relationship.

    Marriage Milestones
    If only the journey through married life came with road signs like “Slow Down: Men Working (Late Again)” and “Danger: Infidelity Ahead.” Maybe then so many relationships wouldn’t hit dead ends. Marriages degrade over time. Still, many couples stay together in spite of demanding jobs, big mortgages, and parental pressures.
    How? “While all partners face inevitable soars and slumps at various points In their relationships, those who survive learn how to navigate them successfully says University of Denver professor of psychology Howard J. Markman, Ph.D., author of Fighting for Your Marriage: Positive Steps for Preventing Divorce and Preserving a Lasting Love. Here’s advice from relationship experts to help you and your mate travel more smoothly along that sometimes bumpy road

    The issue: The first big fight
    Arguments over trivial things – running errands, hogging the TV remote – can to erode your relationship. Expert advice: “Commit to compromising more often and to controlling tempers. If you start to get mad, walk away, or put the discussion on pause,” says Markman. Work as a team. Sit down on a regular basis when you’re both feeling calm and discuss what annoys you. “Having a safe place to talk about disagreements will decrease the chance of small events erupting into bigger conflicts,” says Markman.
    The issue: The financial crisis
    Your spouse got laid off in the economic downturn and has gone into depression. You are terrified about the future, the bills, the mortgage, and keep nagging him to find a new job. And it’s all tearing your marriage apart. Expert advice: Identify your core needs and downsize everything else. Once you figure out how to get by on one salary half the battle 15 won. Let go of your resentment. Understand that getting laid off isn’t always his fault or problem, and it isn’t something he can just fix. Remembering how your spouse supported you during the good years can also help. This attitude adjustment will enable you to work together to figure out how to cope with the financial downturn.
    Contribute to the household in other ways. The unemployed person can help, maybe, by cooking dinner or taking over some of the partners chores. Any way you can make your spouse’s life easier and be a good companion will help.
    The issue: No more fireworks
    You’ve stopped communicating. You’ve grown apart. Over the years, it becomes harder to find time for the two of you as kids, work and other commitments come
    in the way. Expert advice: Find a counselor who can help you to rediscover the things that first attracted you to one another. When you give yourselves a chance to have fun and be together, you’ll remember why you got married. Couples need time alone so they can touch base and connect, to say
    “How did your meeting go?” or “A funny thing happened today.” Particularly in dual-career marriages, parents often feel guilty that they don’t spend enough time with their kids, so when they have a spare minute, they spend it with family. Keep aside an hour alone to talk before bed and to enjoy each other in bed. Go out to dinner once a week.. Building time for each other into your daily schedule ensures it will actually happen
    The issue: The affair
    Maybe it was a one-night-stand. Maybe it was an office romance. Regardless, infidelity can deliver a death blow to ,your marriage. You can still rescue it, although it will take a lot of time, patience, work – and some groveling – to put the pieces back together.
    Expert advice: It is important to forgive and trust one another again. Adopt the idea that “love is a decision more than a feeling,” and take a united pledge to make your marriage work. Staying for the children’s sake is a good place to start, but for the marriage to survive you may need to take the next step – i.e. commit to recreating a loving relationship. It’s easy to blame the partner who strayed from the marriage. But the victimised partner may also have to take on some of the responsibility for what went wrong. After all, if your spouse had an emotional involvement outside the marriage, it was because s/he had a need to share deep feelings and have another person accept him/her. A therapist can help you to communicate better to answer those needs.

  11. Evan says:

    Thanks for sharing your article farhan. It seems to say the same thing a lot. I certainly agree a therapist can assist with communication. I disagree with the stuff about the vicitimised partner. There is much to be talked through here, but thankyou for your contribution.

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