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.

More from The Stir: My Gut-Wrenching Divorce Changed How I Think About Same-Sex Marriage

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

breakups, divorce, marriage


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nonmember avatar Meg

Sure I think divorce should be an option. Especially when it comes to abusive relationships. That being said, I think there are a lot of people who either mess up their own marriage with their own actions, or don't try hard enough to make it work.

Sadly marriage isn't always sunshine and roses.

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

I would only divorce if my husband were physically abusing our children. I would never divorce because I couldn't be bothered trying to make my husband happy. So many people give up on their marriage for terrible reasons now. 

nonmember avatar Allison

I used to think divorce was the easy way out instead of fixing your problems, but now I'm on the other side. Sometimes it's not that you didn't try. Sometimes that just isn't enough if people become incompatible over time. Sometimes the other person isn't trying, so all of your efforts aren't enough. And some people are better off not in a marriage. It's easy to jump to conclusions about someone else "giving up" or "not trying hard enough", but deciding to divorce is heartbreaking. Believe me, that is much harder, especially when you know people will judge you harshly for it. Nobody that isn't in my marriage knows my reasons for my decision.

Littl... LittleFrogsMA

It is so easy to say you would never divorce.

Until your spouse becomes an alcoholic and won't stop drinking,  until they are looking for sex on Craigslist and try to manipulate/lie their way out of it when discovered, until they refuse to manage their pscyhiatric problems, until they scream at the kids for making a little noise, until they kick the dogs, until their road rage is so bad while you are driving you can't stand to have them in the car...


And for all those reasons and more, I packed up my two kids, my two dogs and myself and moved to another state and filed for divorce.


And you konw what.. I should have done it earlier.  I didn't deserve to have to deal with that crap all this time. 

nonmember avatar Ali

My parents got divorced about 25 years ago and it was necessary. Both had drinking problems they would not confront or admit to, my mother was spending us out of house and home, and there were serious physical altercations that would not stop and were putting us kids at risk. At the time I was devastated but now I think they made the best decision possible. They have reconciled and even have holidays together. The last time I remember seeing them get along that well, I was definitely under 12.

nonmember avatar andie

Jenny, stop beating yourself up about getting divorced. God doesn't want you to be miserable, and in this case, it was the right thing to do. Guilt serves no good purpose at all, so stop feeling guilty and move on with your life.

Frost... FrostyMelted

I'm against divorce. I'm going to start refusing service to divorced people on religious grounds. 

EmmaF... EmmaFromEire

Oh Ronda shut up. Making somebody happy should never come at the price of making yourself miserable.

EmmaF... EmmaFromEire

And this may come as a shock to you, so have them pearls ready for clutching- women don't exist for the sole reason of pleasing their husbands. God love your kids if those are the values you instill.

nekoy... nekoyukidoll

My sister is getting a divorce and for the longest time she felt like she was "giving up" or she failed at her marriage. Luckily she.now realizes he's such an abusive bully, his own family can't stand to be around him. Some issues can be worked out and some can't. Divorce is nothing to be ashamed about.

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