Sometimes I feel I have nothing to say about conflict resolution, good communication or co-parenting. Like everyone else in the world, I get mad, hold grudges, raise my voice, and get pissed at my ex-husband. Who am I to tell anyone how to do these things? Those days, it’s hard to write a blog post that seems worthy of my wise, strong, struggling readers (at least that’s how I imagine you).
Maybe you got to my post through social media or a search for information about divorce. Maybe you’re hoping for insight that will get you through a difficult time. I don’t want to be yet another voice out there telling you what you should or should not do; one more reason to lash yourself for not being a better parent or person; or one more voice tickling that fear or guilt inside yourself for choosing to end your marriage. I don’t want to give you one more set of “shoulds” and “should nots” that you have to try to add to your already enormous list.
Oklahoma just passed a law that makes it mandatory that people going through divorce attend a class. Senator Standridge, who co-authored the bill, told Reuters "If you are going through the whole divorce process and have kids, if we can do anything to keep people together, we should. Marriage is a lifelong contract with the state and with your children.”
While I’m all for education, I just find this depressing and hope it doesn’t spread to the rest of the country. In 2014, when 50% of first marriages still end in divorce, we continue to shame parents about their personal choice. Does the state really think that they are going to keep couples together with a 4-hour class when those people have likely struggled for months or years to answer this difficult question? Maybe they have sought advice of their family or clergy or participated in therapy. Certainly they have searched their souls for answers. More likely, they will only succeed at making those parents feel worse for their choice and further stigmatizing divorce for parents and children.
Sure, it’s not great that people get divorced. It would be ideal if we really could all live happily ever after. It’s better for kids to have two active parents in each home to help provide and care for them. It would also be great if the minimum wage were enough for a full time worker to support a family and if our education system prepared our children to be active members of a civil society.
If you’re choosing to end a long-term relationship and you’re sorting out the emotional and logistical details of your life, my advice to you is: trust yourself. You did not make this decision in a moment of haste. You will continue to make wise decisions for yourself and your children if you have them. Instead of attending mandatory classes on why you should stay together, take time to care for your physical and emotional well-being. Be patient with your missteps and be patient with the people around you. You will get through this and life will return to normal or better.