With a divorce rate of roughly 50 percent, almost all of us know someone -- a friend, a colleague, a family member, ourselves -- whose marriage didn't work out. We tell ourselves, especially if they had kids, that the family will be better off, that they will all be happier in a split family than they would in a united but fighting one. Writer Penelope Trunk of The Brazen Careerist isn't so sure.
Trunk has built a career on being shocking and saying everything that is on her mind. With a post she did a few days ago, she has certainly ruffled a few feathers. In it, she calls divorce an "incredibly lame and selfish route to take." She says: "Divorce is immature and selfish." Wow. This is especially interesting coming from someone who is herself divorced and who is also trying to work out a relationship with a man she openly admits abuses her on a regular basis.
In other words, her opinion may be slightly colored by her own experience. But is she right?
In a word: No. She isn't right. I don't need a study to tell me that sometimes, especially in marriages where there are no children, divorce is the kindest thing two people can do for one another. I say this as a person who will likely never get divorced unless my husband leaves me (because we would be remiss to not point out that sometimes one person isn't making a "choice" at all). Personally, I am very invested in keeping my marriage together.
But not everyone who is invested like me can do so, and personally, I don't think calling them "selfish and immature" is very helpful. Sure, I have seen marriages break up that I think could have been saved. But I also am aware of how lucky I am that my marriage is what it is. Not everyone has a happy marriage, replete with great communication and passion. And the fact is, I could have never known at 23 (the age when I started dating my husband) what he would be like at 35. I am just incredibly lucky that the man is as in love with me and as committed to keeping our family together.
All around me, I see marriages that probably SHOULD break up or at least be in counseling. I am amazed by the number of men who lie to their wives and do things to hurt them. I am amazed by the number of women who stay with men who don't help them in any way or make things very hard when they do. I am amazed at the number of couples I know who simply don't enjoy one another. In fact, I can count the number of enviable, happy marriages I know on one hand. One hand!
I once asked an aunt who has a particularly blissful union what the secret was to her 40-year marriage. She said, "Dumb luck." And it's the truth. None of us knows what the future holds. We can be the most mature, unselfish, and loving person, but if our spouse beats us, it's better for the kids that we leave.
Trunk deals in absolutes. It's what has made her famous. But this is a hurtful statement to make, and even more, it isn't true. Sometimes -- many times -- people are better off and happier when they split. And wanting to be happy isn't selfish. It's self-preservation. That is a different thing altogether and, perhaps, the one thing we should all practice without fail.
Do you think divorce is always immature and selfish?
Image via miguelpdl/Flickr