When you marry, you vow to love and cherish the other person till death do you part. The unfortunate truth is that sometimes things don’t work out that way.
I married my childhood sweet heart.
We were young – so very young that it breaks my heart to think how naive we were. At 21 we had been together for five years and we were in love. Marriage seemed like the natural progression, the next step. Our family expected it, we did too and we didn’t think too far beyond that.
Did we sit down and talk about the future? No. Did we discuss any of the important issues? No. Did we talk about any obstacles that we might have to face? No.
We were young and completely wide-eyed with innocence. ‘The future’ with its potential for problems and questions were put in the same box as superannuation; something to be thought of later. It wasn’t until four years into our marriage when we sat down to talk about children that the magnitude of our situation hit.
By this time I was 25. My brain had fully matured and I now had the cognitive ability to think laterally. And I had changed. What I wanted at 25 was different to what I wanted at 21. We all change but sometimes couples don’t change together.
The hardest part was that the feeling wasn’t mutual. My then husband wanted children and he wanted to grow old together in our perfect little house and white picket fence. I wasn’t ready, and the reason I wasn’t ready became apparent to me in a crash of reality. I was no longer in love and wasn’t really sure if I had ever been.
To our family and friends, we had the perfect relationship, and up until that point I suppose it had been. We had our problems, we argued as all couples do but all of the sudden it just all felt so wrong.
Once my feelings made themselves clear, they were like a waterfall crashing down on me. The pressure felt insurmountable and the only thing I wanted to do was leave.
The next day I did and within two weeks it was final. I had no second thoughts and not once did I question my gut feeling.
For a long time I have carried the shame of how fast it all happened and how it must have looked to all those who knew us. There were accusations that I was selfish and that I gave up. It was only months after leaving that I met my now husband and this too brought its own innuendo and small town rumour to deal with.
For years I have said little about my divorce, but deep down, I knew I made the right decision.
The moment I let go of my marriage I became a stronger person. I became aware of the strength of my intuition and learned that some things just aren’t meant for a lifetime. And this is okay.
Divorce is not a dirty word. It is not failure. It is an experience. Never a good experience, and sometimes much worse for some, but it is an experience. I try not to regret marrying so young and I often wonder how my life would have turned out differently if I hadn’t. But without that experience I would not have gained the clarity that I have now.
So when my younger children are old enough to ask me about the photograph on the mantel piece picturing my father and I taken on my first wedding day, I will not be ashamed. I will explain to them that sometimes in life, the path you take is not the one you will end up on, but it may well be the most important life lesson you ever learn.
Have you experienced the shame of failure associated with divorce? Or was it a moment of clarity?