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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.