Divorce Doesn't Have the Same Bad Reputation It Used To

heart in sandA few weeks ago, I was at my son’s baseball game with three women whom I had just met and as our conversation progressed, and we ignored our teens playing on the field, we realized that we had something in common:

We had all been divorced.

Wow. That's a pretty incredible statistic. Four out of four. And as we shared our divorce stories, I was thinking about how things have changed. Society is much more accepting of divorce and there is definitely less of a stigma attached to having a marriage that didn’t make it.

I got divorced 10 years ago. Back then, I was the first I knew of in my situation: married less than a decade with young kids. And there was such a bad rap associated with breaking the "til death do we part" vow.

My marriage ended when my son was starting kindergarten, and one day at the playground after school, I figured out that I was the only one without a husband. Back then, I learned that nothing stops a conversation more quickly among a bunch of mothers with young children than one of them saying they're getting a divorce. And since I was relatively new in town and completely new to the school, I felt extremely uncomfortable. I didn't make many friends that year.

So after the conversation at the baseball field, I marveled at how differently it felt to be divorced now versus 10 years ago. I was happy for these women, my new acquaintances, who were all more recently divorced than me -- because they were truly not alone. And our subsequent discussions during the games became kind of impromptu therapy sessions. And I was glad, as the elder divorcee in the group, that I could be supportive of them and impart some of what I had learned from my experience. And we could also make each other laugh with stories of our sometimes bumbling exes.

Divorce is a reality. I don't think that it's anybody's first choice. It wasn't mine. But people get divorced for good reasons. Abuse, infidelity, and yes, just plain old unhappiness. That counts. And the last thing anyone needs when they're going through a divorce, and experiencing all of the accompanying emotional anguish, guilt, and turmoil is to be judged.

I'm glad to see the judging seems to have lessened and people have become more accepting of divorce. It's about time.

Do you think there is a stigma attached to women who have been divorced?

Image via Damian Gadal/Flickr

divorce, marriage, single moms


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nonmember avatar Cass

While I don't want anybody to feel trapped in a bad marriage by social stigma, it does worry me a little that, with the divorce rate rising, people will not be entering marriages with lifelong commitment on their minds. I would never condemn anyone for getting divorced if they tried to make it work, but I don't think we should approach divorce as something commonplace.

Julie Winkler

I agree with Cass, well said.

paigeR11 paigeR11

I also agree with what Cass said.  

mande... manderspanders

Cass, you are so right.

I'm divorced; my ex is mentally ill (borderline personality disorder) and a serial cheater. I endured years of verbal, emotional, and mental abuse.  I stayed for as long as I did because I didn't want everyone to be right...that we never should have married to begin with; but I also stayed because I made a committment and I had to be sure that I had exhausted all options before I could leave with a clear conscious.  I tried to make it work; I tried to get my ex help; I tried to forgive.  I did all I could, but one person can't make a marriage work on their own.  But when I left, I did so with a clear conscious...I DID try to make it work, I did my best to be a good wife... I didn't walk away because of whatever selfish reason.

If there weren't a stigma attached to divorce, maybe it would have been easier to just walk away and not care about whether or not I tried.  But truthfully, too many people divorce for no good reason and I just couldn't be one of them.

Sometimes stigma and shame aren't bad things; the existence of them pushes us to demand better of ourselves to avoid them...and that's ok.  And if we do experience stigma and shame, it should be a stepping stone, a lesson learned to become a better person.

Rootbear Rootbear

So many people enter marriage with the attitude of 'oh well, no big deal if it doesn't work out we will just get a divorce.' That's not what marriage is supposed to be about. So many people have such cavalier attitudes about it now. It's really sad that divorce is so common. Certain circumstances of course like abuse or major mental illness or sometimes infidelity. But not just because you 'just don't like them anymore' I know lots of women who ruin their relationships because they think they can do better. Like, give me a break.

nonmember avatar Fenona

I stayed in my marriage FAR too long, until I realized that there are worse things than divorce, such as being beaten nearly to death, being cheated on, and being emotionally tortured.

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

Divorce shouldn't be easy. You make a life long commitment, you should stick to it unless you have very good reason not to like he's beating your children. So many people have no respect for marriage now, things get hard and they break up or they just don't get married in the first place. I know people who have parties to celebrate their divorces. Why celebrate such a major failure?

nymom13 nymom13

As a divorcee of 6 years, I'd say where I live being a divorcee is as bad as being white trash. The stigma very much exists around here. Especially at church I don't tell a lot of people because of the stigma especially having an only child. I'm divorced because my ex is a paranoid schizophrenic who kept accusing me of cheating with various family members in both our families as well as my boyfriend that lived in the attic. Yeah, whatever! I wasn't allowed to go anywhere without him and was entirely faithful to him. He was verbally, emotionally and sexually abusive to me. My ex slapped me a couple of times and almost threw a nighstand at me once. He doesn't respect women regardless of age and started verbally abusing my daughter when she was 18 months old. She's now 8 years old.

nonmember avatar AmericanExpat

Well...it still sucks, especially if you're a man in America. For all the feminists harpy screeching, men still pay much higher financial costs and materially lose much more in divorces. I personally men who were divorced by cheating wives who made more sometimes much much more salary who still have to pay their ex-wives alimony. I know one guy who had a paid-off house BEFORE the marriage - inherited it from his dead parents - and in spite a high-powered lawyer he was forced to give it to his cheating wife and even though she made four times the money, he pays a third of his salary as alimony. His state has no common law marriages so she lives with her BF and he's supports the bum.
Plenty of women think that's not fair, but you'll never hear a feminist utter a peep against the status quo.

Edwina Lorres

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