Wednesday, August 27, 2008

When a Marriage Fails

David, over at Dad's House, inspired this post since his statements - and the comments that followed - really struck a chord with me.

Calling a marriage a failure is damaging to our society. Imagine what it is like to be a child of divorced parents and hearing that statement (a failed marriage) throughout one's life. No wonder they are more likely to experience divorce themselves.

Before I go into my own experience and thoughts on this, let me begin by explaining that my parents are married and have been together for over 35 years. They've had their difficult years and there was a time in my life where I actually wanted them to get a divorce. I felt (because I was 16 and knew so much about the world) that my mom should leave my dad and life would be peachy keen for everyone (a.k.a. me).

Obviously, I thank my lucky stars that they are still together since I see them now and realize how much I have learned from them and their relationship. No one walks into marriage without baggage and no one walks away from one without regret.

Two people come together, fall in love, make each other complete. They try to get along and lead a happy life, but over time something changes and they can’t. They split and move on.

Is that failure? If they grew from the experience, it’s evolution. If being married forced that change, then maybe the marriage served its purpose and it’s a success.

Yep, I think growth and change is definitely an evolution and our society is not one to embrace such change, unfortunately. Change and growth are scary things to many people and it's that fear that leads to talking about marriage as either a success or failure that is damaging.

If we succeed at something, doesn't that typically mean we no longer have goals we are trying to reach? We've exceeded our expectations and we no longer have to put forth any effort? Um, no.

If one chooses to remain single (and never marries) does that mean they have failed as well? NO! Marriage should not be seen as something that we need to win or lose at (success vs. fail) but rather, an experience and a relationship that changes us (hopefully, for the better). There are certainly many experiences and relationships in one's lifetime that also produce change and we would never label them as a failure or a success. Why do we put so much pressure on marriage?

My marriage ended over two years ago. My son was a result of that relationship and I would - if only because of him - have to say that our marriage was a success. I have no regrets (although I had plenty of guilt) and I have no doubt in my mind that my son will grow up to have a healthy self-esteem, parents that love him unconditionally, and an equal and fair chance at finding that one person to spend the rest of his life with as the rest of us.

1 comment:

dadshouse said...

Great follow-up post! Love all your insights, especially this: My son was a result of that relationship and I would - if only because of him - have to say that our marriage was a success.

Just from that I'd say your marriage was a huge sucess.