People get married for many different reasons.
It could be two people in love and choosing to commit to one another, it could be an arranged marriage, to gain citizenship, religious reasons, because everyone is doing it, or because society tells us we should. But no matter the reason, we praise and give so much attention to these beginnings or these reset buttons you could say. More often than not, when divorce comes into play, it is seen as a grave dark tragedy.
When in reality, people get divorced for numerous reasons as well. Maybe they fell out of love, they changed and so did their marriage, someone cheated, and trust couldn’t be regained. Maybe they were in an abusive marriage and finally got out, or their sexual needs were very different. Maybe therapy still wasn’t working after three years, or they found out they had very different parenting values.
Maybe they were never in love, to begin with.
I recently read an Instagram post that sparked my own personal dialogue around this weight and power we allow divorce to hold. Ericka Hart is a sex educator, speaker, writer, breast cancer survivor and model.
In this post, Ericka talks about the day she got married then later touches on the aftermath of it, the divorce. She highlights this concept of honoring the endings of our relationships. Even with all the pain and hardship, we can still show up and honor those memories.
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4 years ago today, I walked down a cement path in the middle of Prospect Park with my friends and family surrounding me to the person I thought I’d be with forever. I was on the highest dose of chemo, just had a double mastectomy two months prior and probably had a paper due for grad school. I couldn’t feel much emotionally due to my body being put in menopause. I was devastated that I couldn’t wear my hair in the up-do loc style I had envisioned, but what black person doesn’t look good bald? We definitely had our issues, but we threw an incredible party. Eb said to me this morning, “Happy Anniversary, babe”. It’s not our anniversary but him saying that did make me fall in love with him a little more. That he honored a major part of my life minus jealousy or being awkward. Divorce/breakups suck, there is no doubt and I’d be lying if I said this memory wasn’t meaningful. So here I am honoring it. Perhaps if we honored our relationships ending, it wouldn’t be as devastating? ??♀️ Thank goodness for therapy today. What memory do you want to honor? #tbt
Don’t get me wrong; I am in no way focused on delegitimizing the struggle or hardship people have gone through or are going through right now with their divorce, everyone’s pain is valid.
I merely want to challenge how we define a successful and failed marriage. What would it look like if we decided to honor our endings the same way we do with our beginnings?
For the most part, I was fortunate with how both my parents dealt with their separation. I know I was the child in this situation, so I saw a different side of things.
But I did see that they were civil with each other. They communicated well with one another and didn’t have problems sharing time with my sister and me. Through high school I always leaned towards the anti-marriage side of things, questioning the point of it. I would dwell over the idea that marriage is only important and valuable if it lasts.
When I started experiencing my relationships, I noticed how this view was steering me away from commitment.
I had this all or nothing mindset. But as I grew older and more observant, I started looking at the efforts to define success. I learned how my parents worked hard on their relationship. They also worked hard to make a joint decision to part ways, and they worked hard to continue raising their two daughters. This was when I started realizing that my parents’ marriage was actually a successful one, even though it had come to an end.
Our culture doesn’t often go past the event of divorce, we see divorce, and we automatically see failure. But why is it considered a failure?
Instead, why isn’t it something you tried really hard at, put in the most you could have at the time and decided to let go when it wasn’t working anymore? If we measured the success of a marriage based on how we go about the entire process and how we move forward, then maybe we would create more space to honor it later on.
These days, I go into my relationships differently. I know that I’m going to work hard and do my best with the expectation of getting that same effort in return. I go into relationships knowing that love is strong, but it may not always be enough. I believe that if my best effort does not make it last, then I still have the power to honor and celebrate it for what it was.
Ericka Hart posed the question at the end of her post: “What memory do you want to honor?”
My answer is simple: I want to honor them all.