I originally wrote this for Facebook, as a comment on an article that declared: divorce does not equal the failure of a marriage. It received an overwhelming, loving response, so I want to share it here.
March 2019. C and I announced our divorce. When we told our loved ones and friends, they responded with, “but you guys looked so happy!” And, “you sure fooled us.”
It wasn’t a trick; we were happy.
And we also weren’t.
I was 24 when we got married. Intelligent, maybe, but as mature as you’d expect a 24 year old to be. And I didn’t ask the questions that it would’ve been (at the very least) helpful for me to ask: Did we have the same values? Did we want the same things? Do we move at the same pace, growing and evolving and seeking adventure?
On top of the emotional life of a couple needing its own working out – and we worked it out, many times, in therapy – we rarely stopped to look at ourselves from the outside and discover how different we were.
The benefit of not having that perspective was huge: in the twelve years we spent together, we became the best of friends. We laughed a lot. (A lot.) We discovered unseen parts of ourselves and each other, and we held one another’s hands through loss, pain, and medical diagnoses. We became a family.
None of that has changed because we, after over a decade, could no longer ignore how differently we each wanted life to look, and how much we had compromised of ourselves to stay together. None of that changed despite the fact that we also hurt each other, countless times.
So no, it wasn’t an act. It was deep and hard-won love and respect for one another that you saw when you saw us. And it was pain and hurt and long-enduring loneliness that you didn’t see, and that made moving on the right, and the kind, thing to do.
That we celebrated 12 years together… that we fought for our relationship as much as we could, and stopped fighting when we could no longer… all of that is a raging success. Our friendship, which still stands strong despite the fact that divorce is hard (omg it is hard), and no one teaches you how to navigate it, is a huge success. And to have fought for our individual happinesses above all, risking the familiar to believe in something bigger, is a triumph.
There are many things about our separation that are sad to me, but none which seem like a failure. It’s all just immense gratitude.
All relationships are teachers.