A Prayer for the Children of Divorce

July 08, 2010

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a child of divorce, as many, many people who are growing up in the US right now share this common experience. People are getting divorced more swiftly these days, it seems, and quite often [more often than not?] people are growing up in non-nuclear household configurations.

I have a lot of friends that believe that they can’t imagine getting married or having long term relationships due to the fact that they are children of divorce. They believe that no relationship lasts, and that there is no reason to make such a major commitment, only to deal with the legal ramifications of separation shortly thereafter.

I disagree.

As a child of divorce – I have quite an optimistic view of long term commitment. Instead of worrying about the inevitable end of my relationship or termination of my marriage, I take comfort in knowing that there is life after divorce.

As I’ve mentioned before, my parents divorced when I was a small child, but before they separated, everything was horrible – there was fighting, sneakiness, hurt, all of those things that adults think that children are unaware of [they aren’t] or that they can protect their kids from [they can’t]. Once they separated, they did the thing that most adults do – they enlisted the help of many therapists, all working to “fix me” and my broken heart and help me cope with my the dissolution of my parents marriage.

Even as a little kid, I was happy that my parents got a divorce.

It meant no more fighting, no more awfulness, no more tension. It meant that my dad moved out, actually moved across the street, and that my parents shared custody. For many years there was still difficulty, name-calling, blame assigning, court battles, custody debates, child support payments that went unpaid, and anger – but still it was a little bit better than when they had been together.

And now? I am happy to have the personal knowledge that I can go through a divorce and still find love, live a full and exciting life, make new homes elsewhere, travel, change professions, and be happy. I’m happy to have grown up watching my parents fall in and out of love with other people. I’m happy to have had the exposure of many different step-parents.

I’m grateful that I can get married without any fear of what will happen should it for some reason not work out. I’m grateful that the fear of dissolution has been eliminated. Now, I can just bask in the excitement of possibility. If it doesn’t work – I won’t regret having done it and I will move on with my life, maybe to marry again maybe not.

It makes me really sad to think that people take such a negative view of divorce, using it to aid their own relationship fears. Fear about commitment is entirely understandable and normal – but that doesn’t mean that you should be to afraid to try just because it didn’t work out perfectly for your parents. We are all moving and growing and changing, and hopefully we change along side our partner but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. Sometimes life gets in the way and things happen and relationships end, but we shouldn’t set out anticipating failure.

Today, I’m crossing my fingers and saying little prayers for all of the children of divorce who are brave enough to work towards creating healthy, happy, and long lasting relationships, even when it seems as though all odds are against you. Yes divorce rate is HUGE in this country. Yes fewer and fewer people subscribe to old fashioned make it work relationship gospel – but the truth is, relationships are hard and being partnered with someone can be one of the best/most difficult/painful/wonderful/insane things that you can do. But if you love someone, your relationship is worth working for.

Are you a child of divorce? Do you think that it impacts your ability to move forward in your relationships? Why/Why not?