What the Pro-Marriage Culture Gets Wrong About Divorce

A couple of months ago, I wrote about how purity culture pressured me into becoming a teen bride. I mean, no one put a gun to my head or anything, but the whole culture I was enmeshed in seemed to believe that sex outside of marriage was just about the worst thing ever, so obviously it’s better to get married young and fast rather than give into lustful temptation.

Just like premarital sex became a bigger sin than rushing into marriage without time to really get to know each other first, once in that marriage, the whole goal was to stay married no matter what. The new sinliest sin became the D-word -- Divorce.


On the one hand, it’s great to see a pro-marriage culture encouraging families to stay together. On the other hand, forcing people that make each other genuinely miserable to stay together no matter what isn’t doing anyone any favors. Shouldn’t we be more concerned about the actual people in the marriage, than the marriage itself?

Just because divorce has become so common, I think that the sanctity of marriage folks have swung the pendulum in the opposite direction, and have now decided that it's never OK to get divorced.

Yes, marriage is hard, but it's not supposed to be unbearable. It’s not supposed to be like banging your head on a brick wall each and every day, rarely able to come to any resolutions, usually giving in or giving up just to keep the peace, the whole time putting on a smile and sugar-coating it for the outside world.

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I’m not talking about rough patches or disagreements over who gets to hold the remote tonight -- I’m talking about genuinely making each other miserable, over the course of years. When things just spiral downward, and you can’t see eye-to-eye on anything, and being on the same page? Fuhgeddaboudit, you’re not even in the same library, let alone the same book.

The few times I did break down in the years leading up to my divorce, I was given the same advice from some “helpful” friends -- buck it up. I was married, I was supposed to take care of my husband, and in showing him love, he would be prompted to love me back, and the cycle would be complete. Meanwhile, I wasn’t supposed to complain about the same problems everyone else had.

The problem with that line of thinking is that no couple has the same problems as anyone else. We seem to have lumped this marriage institution into a one-size-fits-all conglomeration that fails to see the individuals involved.

Like that love cycle mentioned above -- that doesn’t work if you have very different ideas about what love is. In my marriage, it didn’t matter how much love we thought we were showing each other, since we both obviously weren’t feeling it. And neither one of us was willing to change enough to make the other person happy.

Divorce sucks. That’s the one thing that everyone seems to agree on when we’re talking about marriage. But sometimes it really is the best option.

Do you think divorce should ever be an option?


Image via nycgeoff/Flickr

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