Is there “A One” or “The One”? When are you ready? Better or worse? Divorce has taught us a lot about marriage.
I would venture to bet that there are very few people who aspire to get divorced at some point in their lives. I don’t think many people wake up one day and think, “Hey, you know what, I’ve always wanted to divorce the woman of my dreams”. No one spends their life dreaming up the perfect day, the perfect venue, the perfect dress… oh yeah, and the perfect prenuptial agreement.
Divorce is an unfortunate reality in many people’s lives. I think it would be the case that anyone reading this would have been impacted by divorce at some point or another, whether it was a friend, a family member, your own parents, or even yourself. There are always circumstances which lead two people to make the decision to split up, and there can be quite a lot of collateral when the event takes place.
Divorce is the end of a marriage. The decision to take what was initially promised as “til death do us part” and cut it off prematurely. Consequentially, there’s a lot of things that I think divorce has taught us about dating, love, marriage, and everything in between.
Here are 5 of them.
What if your life gets worse?
I love weddings. I’ve been to 50 weddings, been a groomsmen 3 times, been an MC at 3 receptions, and am about to be a best man later on this year. As a result, I get to hear a lot of vows exchanged, whether the traditional vows or vows the lovers have penned for each other. There are some common lines that get recycled quite a bit. “For better or worse, in sickness and in health, til death do us part”. You know them well.
So the couple stands at the altar or courthouse or wherever the couple is exchanging vows before the celebrant, and they commit to loving each other for better or worse.
So… what if I get married to the person I love, and my life gets worse?
Obviously, we get married because we believe that marriage will make our lives better, but apparently, this vow accommodates for the other option. I guess many of us don’t really think that through when considering our love lives. Marriage is supposed to always be this blissful experience of discovery. And you only ever discover good things about this perfect person you’re committing to… right? I guess not. One of the main reasons people get divorced is because they’re unhappy, after all.
I don’t think there’s no hope for a loveless marriage, I just think this is an interesting thought that divorce touches on.
“A One” vs. “The One” – Soulmates?
One of those age old questions out there is whether or not there is only one person that you’re meant to marry. You know the expressions – whatever will be will be, they were made for each other (MFEO if you’re an abbreviator), all the rest.
After all, if you’re meant to be together, you will, right? It’ll just happen. It’ll just be the most natural thing ever. Your lives will magically come together and the progression will be flawless.
Enter the subject of divorce.
Because there are plenty of relationships out there that were absolute fairytale stories – met in high school or college, always knew they were meant for each other, blissful dating relationship, cottage on the hill with the white picket fence and the 2.2 kids and everything. Everyone knows they’re perfect for each other.
And then they split up.
So… what happened?
I think what really is highlighted about marriage through divorce is that it isn’t about finding the right person, it’s about being the right person. You could find the Perfect Mr or Mrs Right, could have followed all the recommended dating and engagement guidelines, committed it before God, involved accountability, all the rest of it, and it could still end up in separation. Why? Because maybe she was great, but I treated her like she wasn’t. I didn’t value the great woman that landed in my life? Or maybe I just decided to go off the rails and see what it would be like to bed one of the other women around here. Or maybe I’ll just hold my career or personal hobbies above the time I should spend with her. She could do all of those back to me, too.
The problem is choice, Neo.
We often aren’t realistic enough about the reality of relationship. It’s about the choices of two people, and the influences of the people around them. She may be perfect, but if he decides to allow attraction to develop with another, then there’s going to be a wedge there. If he decides he wants out and he’s had enough, then that’s where the relationship is probably going to go. Our lives are in our own hands a large percentage of the time, and our choices and decisions will either drive us closer together, or further apart.
So is it “A One” or is it “The One”? Maybe it’s more that the one I decide to commit to becomes “The One”. Maybe we should spend a bit more time taking responsibility of our decisions than waiting for a perfect spouse to save us.
Because otherwise the couples that were made for each other would still be together.
Are you ready for forever?
When are you really ready for marriage? Many cases of divorce contain one or more parties who state “I just wasn’t ready for it”. Got married too young, had too many other factors in my life, was too immature.
But when are you truly ready for marriage?
The Hebrew poem, The Song of Solomon, features a woman who advises the daughters of Jerusalem not to awaken love until the time is right, and you’re ready. The advice is that love shouldn’t be provoked until there is a readiness to accept its presence and implications.
But when does that moment happen? And if love is woken up before you felt ready, does that mean it wasn’t true, and that the decision to move on is justified?
I think there are a lot of things we do that can make us ready for marriage – learning about the opposite sex, making sure we know how to make and keep strong and long friendships, learning how to fight fair, all those other great things people learn about in the lead up to the Big Day.
But I think above these is a decision of a readiness. That even if I don’t have all the answers, I’m willing to find them out. That even if I feel like I’m sinking in the deep end, I’m going to learn to swim here. That even though I don’t know how to deal with the decision that my partner has made, I’m going to commit to working through this inasmuch is in my power to do so, and coming out together on the other side.
And you’ll never feel 100% ready for something as uncertain as the comings and goings of life. It’s not about the feeling, it’s about the decision of what you’ll do when uncertain things come.
It’s the big things and the little things
Why do two people stay together, and why do two people decide to leave? Is it money? Is it the sex, or lack thereof? Is it that our kids are the only reason we’re staying together? Is it that big fight we had at 3am that night? Or is it those little ones we have every morning at 8:05?
It’s probably both and all.
Divorce teaches us that marriage is about all the big things and all the little things. Some people say don’t sweat the small stuff, and that has quite a bit of merit when it comes to conflict resolution and facing anger – you don’t want to be continually blowing up over tiny nuances, right? But I think the small things become big things if they’re continually ignored or one or both people is continually compromising something of particular importance to them.
Why is this issue so important to this other person? Maybe it’s not about having another night in for dinner, maybe it’s the fact they’re feeling you’re not pursuing them any more. Maybe it’s not that the way you do something is inconvenient, maybe it’s that it reminds them of something that hurt them in their childhood. Maybe it’s not that he’s just horny all the time, maybe it’s that he’s not feeling loved by you because he can’t express himself.
Who is this person you’ve brought home and made home with you?
I think divorce has taught us that the big things and the little things are important. Why?
Because this person is important.
This person you’ve committed to – they’re beautiful. They’re strong. Out of all the people on earth, you chose them. Do you remember why?
This person is valuable. They are wonderful. In marriage, you have the perfect vantage point to see all of their best, and all of their worst. That’s why your voice and actions carry the most weight out of anyone else in their life.
The big things and the little things matter because this person matters.
It’s the ongoing decisions
I think through any of the considerations we can make about marriage by considering divorce, one of the biggest things is that it is an ongoing decision to stay together. It’s not that I decide once after I’ve magically fallen in love with this person. It’s that I will continually decide to be in love with this person.
The point I decide to stop is probably where divorce begins.
If two people are going to stay together, they have to believe that they are better together. And we really are better together. When one is weak, the other can be strong. When one is cold, the other can provide warmth. Their complimentary gifts can serve others in a way they couldn’t serve when they were in isolation. It’s the power of partnership.
It means in an ongoing manner, I have to believe in them. I have to believe in me. I have to believe in us. I have to believe in the purpose of our relationship.
And hey, marriage can be one of the most enjoyable experiences, even if it isn’t all the time.
I Love Us.
What do you think divorce has taught us about marriage? Do you agree or disagree with any of the thoughts above? Join the discussion below.