Break up

I am at the age where people I know are going through another round of divorce and separation.

It’s not that I am so old, but it seems like another 5 years has passed. These people are in the 10-15 year mark of their relationships.

I remember there was a spurt of break-ups around the 5-7 year mark. Usually you have been together a few years and then kids start to come along. There are some statistics that say that a large portion of break-ups occur when kids start reaching toddler age. This fits with the math of a few years of marriage and a few years of kid.

Toddlers are generally harder to deal with than a baby. It’s not just poopy diapers and sleep deprivation any more. It’s vocalization (and lack of understandable communication), and frustrations, and demands. As soon as you figure out one thing, something else changes. You are taxed, you are challenged, and you are not sure if this is the same baby you gave birth to.

Then, to spice things up a little and try to change things, you decide to have another baby!

If I hadn’t married as well as I did, I would have been the one heading for the hills. It wasn’t so much that I would have left my spouse, I just wanted a really long break from the situation. I didn’t know how to cope. Our daughter was mysterious, trying, and definitely spirited. She was not predictable or easy. I am an introverted recluse and I have never looked forward to going to work so much in my life.

The ideas and the hopes around the concept of marriage seem the same to me now as they did 15 years ago, when I first thought about it. People do want a life partner, they do want companionship, support, and love. Pretty standard checklist. Our ideas have not changed much even though society has.

LOL Just divorced. And no, that's not my car.

What has changed is how we view divorce. In high school I knew of only two kids whose parents divorced. Many relationships functioned solely because there were kids to consider. Now, it seems less of a taboo or detriment to one’s life to leave a relationship. There is still grief and heartache and readjustment, but I also see amicable separations where people realize they have just out-grown one another. There are new partners and new chapters. There is not as much reason to stay together for the kids if all you are doing is creating two unhappy people.

So on this new wave of changes in personal lives, I wonder how it is we even survive in the first place. Growth. Willingness to change. Love helps, but being able to see a different point of view, even if you don’t agree with it, goes miles towards understanding. Then Love helps even more.

For all these qualities, and a few thousand others, I love my husband.

I am grateful for him.


This is a post in my mini-series, “Gratitude on Wednesdays.” Most Wednesdays I like to write about something I’m grateful for and I encourage you to comment and tell me the same. It’s the little things that can make a difference in our life, so here’s a gentle reminder to keep paying attention.Β 


32 thoughts on “Break up

  1. I was probably the first of my friends to come from a divorced home, and the only one raised by a single father (Dad helped set precedent by winning custody in Texas in 1970!) But convenience and the quest for “freedom” by the Most Selfish Generation (my name for my parents’ age group) soon evened out stats…and taught those children that commitments didn’t matter if they didn’t make you “happy” anymore. It’s been a slippery slope since then.

    • Way to go Dad! That was a huge change in thinking.

      I think some people feel happiness is an expectation out of a relationship. It’s definitely nicer if you are happy, but it is not solely up to the one person as a responsibility to make another person feel this.
      Slippery indeed.

      • I agree with both of you. As one divorced friend of mine said (he went through a bitter divorce): Happiness comes from withing and you share it. you cannot expect happiness to be given to you, from someone else.

      • You can say that again. I also think some women marry for the wedding, dress and the ring; failing to take notice of WHO they are marrying…

  2. T,
    This is a complicated subject.
    My ex-wife and I divorced after 26 years. It was me who wanted to leave. Our kids were adults but I didn’t wait for that. I never considered divorce as an option until I realized who I had become in order to continue life as it was. It was the hardest decision of my life. And the best one.
    Your post reminds me how good life is today.
    Thank you,

    • Red,
      Indeed it is complicated. Human desires, needs, and emotions usually are. Especially if they involve another person.
      I think if we look at our lives (as you did) and see where we are at, we can focus on what we want to change to get to where we want to be. It’s not always easy and certainly involves some risk. I don’t know how many people are willing to take that risk.
      Thanks for your comments. Always lovely to hear your perspective.


  3. Howdy iRiB!

    My one-year *Divorce* anniversary is coming up: January 12, 2013 and my Ex and I have remained good friends. We had an amicable split. There was no blame. No arguments. No hate. No DRAMA that everyone so expects when they hear a couple is headed for divorce. I can recall people in my life asking, “What happened?” “What do you mean ‘what happened’, it’s never just ONE thing, is it?” Well, I suppose for some couples it is. I have heard infidelity is the #1 cause of divorce. The 2nd is money. I don’t know how accurate that is, as I’m going by hearsay, not facts. Some people need serious drama before they can end a relationship. My Ex and I knew we didn’t want or need things to end *badly* in order for them to end. We love each other and always will. We are committed to one another and always will be. My Ex is a high-end contractor (builds beautiful million dollar homes) and we joke about how when we become old, we will buy a piece of land together and build 2 houses on it so we can take care of one another while still maintaining our space and privacy. When we officially divorced, I bought the most charming 1915 home. The previous owner lived there for 75 years. Little by little my Ex has been helping me bring this house up-to-date while still maintaining its historic charm (which is important to me, less so to him – his motto is “knock it down and start over”).

    If I had to point a finger at one issue in our marriage it was that we both craved alone time which is difficult to achieve when you live with someone. We both married later in life. I was 35, he was 37 and had been living alone for some time. I think we were set in our ways so when we got married, it was like culture shock. I can recall thinking, “Man, I just wish I was ALONE!” My ex and I agree that we prefer to be alone. I think on some level we are both introverts. We cherish our alone time and privacy. Neither one of us wanted children, so kids was never an issue.

    For some, Divorce can be very emotional, painful and of course difficult. For us, it was easy. In fact, our attorneys were thrilled that we were splitting in such a positive fashion — they couldn’t get over it actually. I have no regrets about the way things turn out. Do I still wish I was married? I suppose on some level I do, I mean, who wants *divorce* on their docket. Does divorce mean I did not have a successful marriage? Absolutely not! In the words of Ellen Barkin: “A marriage doesn’t have to end in death in order it to be a successful marriage. I had a successful marriage with Gabriel.” Rock on Ellen! I couldn’t agree more.


    • GiRRL…. this is a great comment! So wonderful to hear that things ended positively. An end can simply be a change to a new beginning. It’s great to hear that you both realized what you wanted and that being together, or working on a common goal together, was not what you wanted.
      I love how he is still involved in your life and still a part of who you are. I totally agree that you can still love someone, but just not be able to live and be “in relationship” with them.
      Definitely agree with the quote from Ellen Barkin. You are an amazing example of this!

      • Thanks IRIB. πŸ™‚ I feel very fortunate and hence grateful that I did not have a bitter ending to my marriage. Which reminds me, I waaaaaaaaay overdue on posting my 2012 Gratitude Recap but work has been insane (due to Q-end) and I just haven’t had the time. 😦

  4. I’m starting to see the second round divorces too. Lots to relate to here, including the introversion and wanting to run for the hills sometimes. It is such a blessing when you find someone you can grow and change with instead of away from. Thanks for the reminder today.

    • RFL,
      I definitely consider it a blessing to be with my husband. I realized yesterday that I was always trying to change my relationships to make them into something else. I wasn’t sure what I wanted, just sure of what I didn’t want.
      Meeting my husband, I realized I didn’t change much. Not actively. We have both certainly changed in our time together and had many discussions about who should do the dishes, but overall we’ve both grown. It hasn’t been a conditional change to measure the success of our relationship.
      Glad you could relate to some of this. Thanks for your comments.

  5. It’s good that you recognize you are thankful for your husband. My 10-year marriage fell apart (it wasn’t so good for many years) and my first marriage ended after 7 years. I keep thinking, Maybe if we had tried harder, but if one person wants to try and the other doesn’t, what can you do. Hold you sweetheart close and love him. You are extremely fortunate.

    • Marie,
      Thank you for sharing your own story. It’s not easy to look back at something you cherished. Often it is just circumstances that don’t work out. It is so true that one person can try and the other have given up. It’s an imbalance that you cannot force.
      I do believe I am fortunate. I treasure the goodness of my husband.

  6. We have yet to see close friends break up, but I’m sure it’s coming. I had a conversation with a good friend this weekend about divorce and we both feel that our lives are far from perfect and have really hard days but nothing bad enough to leave. We have both thought about it, talked about it, even threatened it, but in the end we always decide that we’re fine right where we are.

    PS. Not so grateful for my husband right now. He’s sick in bed with a man-cold so I’m going to bootcamp.

    • I think it’s easy to see the greener grass. But if you want green grass it also needs water.
      Nothing is ever perfect, but if you engage and participate and put the effort in you’ll know what your returns are.
      Men with colds are bad.
      Have fun getting sweaty! I feel fatter just hearing you have put your running shoes on.

  7. I agree. You have to be willing to see your spouse’s point of view and be willing to compromise to the point that neither party suffers much of a loss on what he or she wanted. And respect the other person. When I’m not being my most pleasant to my husband, I remind myself, “would I treat someone else this way?” If the answer is no, I better change the attitude and tone quickly. πŸ™‚

    • That’s a good way to look at a situation and describe it: would I treat someone else this way?
      Also applies to self-talk.
      It’s a tricky maze… respect for differences is key. You can build allies this way. And you need your partner on your side.

  8. There is another wave of divorce that hits when the kids go off to college. Many couples realize they stuck together all those years for the kids and find they’ve grown in different directions. Marriage is probably the toughest thing we’ll do in our lives. It’s hard living with the same person year after year, and growing and changing, and sometimes people grow so far apart they can’t find their way back to each other. Life is too short to be unhappy. While it should never be the first option, I think it’s better to have tried marriage and failed than to stick it out just because society tells you you should and spend the rest of your life being miserable. People do change, and sometimes mistakes are made.

    • Yes, I’ve heard about empty-nesters and the shock of nothing to focus on.
      I totally agree with what you’ve said: it’s not up to society to dictate what constitutes acceptable happiness in one’s life. I would hope that people would change so that our experiences can be rewarding and challenging and we can learn from them. Relationships are not always easy but worth the attempt.

  9. Tania,
    A few years back, on a Facebook status, I had written: a relationship is work, work you are willing to do, but work nonetheless, even when in love. There was a slew of comments that followed: then you are not in the right relationship/if it is this much work, you should take it as a sign… The relationship failed, not because it was work, but because there was no love.

    My current relationship, and the most fulfilling one of my young life, is work, but work that my loving wife and myself do willingly, each day. And each day, we go closer, as we understand each other better. It was a touching post. I hope your husband had a chance to read it.

    • Eric,
      Thank you for sharing.
      We must work at loving ourselves, showing lovingkindness, and loving another person. Some days that work is so easy; and others we must challenge ourselves to stay present.
      I think as we work we grow, and that growth is what creates the bonds of love and understanding that sets us a foundation.

      My husband most certainly read the post. He was glad it was about him!

  10. Such a thoughtful post. Although I haven’t been in this marriage game as long as you have (we will hit seven years in July), it seems to me that one of the necessary ingredients to a long, happy marriage is a willingness to see it as a living organism. My husband and are aren’t even remotely the people we were when we met and then got married, but we’ve always accommodated for the changes going on in each others’ lives and personalities. Instead of just meeting each oth halfway during trying times, we’ve tried to carry each other and make our relationship solid in its ability to morph.

    • Emily,
      It doesn’t seem to matter that you have been married “only” 7 years, you have established a strong relationship that most certainly works for you. I so agree that being able to allow your relationship to morph and accommodate both individuals is so key. It’s not an easy thing, but I like that you were able to comment on this from experience.
      Thank you.

  11. I liked reading this post and a lot of the comments! My parents got divorced when I was in high school, but it was very peaceful. The much harder part was them building up to that- that was very stressful for me. But once it happened, it was great, and they became great friends and still are. I really hope our ideal of what a relationship is changes as people get wiser in general. I like what someone above said about a marriage not having to end in death for it to be “successful.” If more of us were aware of that, and really embraced it, there’d probably be a whole lot more joy and growth and probably fewer lawyers πŸ™‚

    • It’s great that even though your parents divorced they were able to do so amicably and respectfully. I think often kids can get used as pawns between parents – even though this is probably the last thing parents want or expect.
      Divorce is sometimes about learning to find the respect for someone you who is no longer so intimately in your life. That can be a real learning process for some.

  12. I don’t have any experience in marriage … I am still waiting for the big moment when I am asked that BIG question. But a fault of my own, I am very stubborn – sometimes it’s hard for me to see things in another light … and on top of that, I can be really sensitive … something which makes having a fight much easier. But i hope to marry well, too! I am glad you were so lucky. What a heartfelt post, thank you for sharing.

    • Hi Emily,
      Thanks for your comments. I think we learn by doing, and learn about ourselves by being in a situation that tests our limits. I thought I was super easy to live with til I had roommates!

      I think finding someone who understands you as you are is important. It doesn’t mean we don’t leave any room for change, or that we don’t try to change ourselves before we have expectations of others. I think finding out who we are and having that respectfully understood in a relationship goes a long way towards success.

  13. I couldn’t agree with you more that empathy is the key. Love helps, but we need more than love since most marriages start out with a huge dose of love. I can honestly say I would have been one of those divorced at toddler stage fathers, if I didn’t check my ego and learn to empathize. Great post.

    • Kozo,
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It’s great you had the awareness to check your ego and have empathy for the situation and the dynamics that evolve. It helps so much in the long term.


Sharing is caring.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s