When I was hemming and hawing over whether to divorce or not and my husband at the time was as well, I asked my friends who were divorced for advice.
Should I get a divorce?
How will I know if it’s right to divorce?
I wanted someone else to make the decision for me. I wanted someone else to call the shots for me. I wanted some sign from the heavens like written in the sky saying, “Hey Laura, It’s Me. G-d. Do you need to get a divorce, ok? Glad we had this talk.”
Of course, life doesn’t work that way and neither does divorce. Knowing when it’s time to call it quits is different for everyone. For some people, it’s an event that drives them to sign the papers. For another person, it’s a gut feeling. But one of the things that struck me so very deeply was when I asked my divorced friend if I should divorce, she gave me one reason not to get a divorce.
She told me, “Don’t get a divorce to meet someone else. You may not meet someone else. You may never. Leave because you absolutely can’t take another minute with this person you’re married to. Leave because being alone is better than being married.”
It was a sobering piece of advice.
Not meet anyone? How dismal.
But how sound! How practical!
You can’t divorce someone simply because you think there’s a better model out there for you.
Men, I’m looking at you: some of you are guilty of cycling from woman to woman on some mythical hunt for perfection. And yes, we women aren’t always much better, I know.
You don’t leave someone simply to find a more shiny or new relationship because guess what?
That relationship will get old, too. That person will be flawed. The thrills will eventually die with candidate #2,3 or what have you, just as much as it may be dying in your marriage.
No, you get a divorce because that person is just not right for you and you, not right for them. You get a divorce because being alone will bring you more peace and happiness, than being with this person.
Everyone comes with baggage. Every shiny new toy becomes dull. Every hot intense sexual relationship fades at the time and in order to spark it up, it takes two willing people. You can’t end a marriage over a lull in the speed and intensity of your love. You end it because the whole thing from top to bottom is a mess that’s unable to be fixed.
Yes, is it depressing to consider leaving someone only to be alone for the rest of your life?
Yeah, damn right it is. But no one said this was easy. We just said it would be worth it. And that’s true. If your marriage was like mine and not working at all, being alone, sane and happy is worth it even if you’re paying a financial price or the chance that you may end up growing old alone. But isn’t it better to live an authentic and happy life alone, than an unhappy and stressful life together?
Sure, there are the creature comforts that marriage brings. No doubt, there are perks to being married. I’ll never lie about that!
But to make a lifetime commitment, you need to be happy and ready to sign on for everything. Or in other words, being unhappily married is a hell I’d never like to visit again. I’ll take the stressors of divorce over that any day.
So, if you were like me, standing on the precipice of a bad marriage and trying to decide whether to tear down the castle or keep it going, I ask you this:
Would you be happier with a content and peaceful life alone?
Or a “safe” life, unhappy and stressed?
If you’re opting for safety, just beware: by staying put in your miserable marriage, you’re missing out on all life could really bring and signing on for a lifetime of unhappiness.
For me, I took the leap off the cliff and I have no regrets.
Do I wish it didn’t impact my kid or my finances?
Yes, but it would have been worse for my kid if we stayed together…and money can’t buy love.
I’ll settle for my tiny piece of happiness, alone. For now.
Laura Lifshitz is a pint-sized, battery-operated, writer, comedienne, and single mother. Laura will work for chocolate. The former MTV personality and Columbia University graduate is currently writing about divorce, sex, women’s issues, fitness, parenting, marriage and more for the New York Times, DivorceForce, Women’s Health, Redbook, Working Mother, Pop Sugar, Your Tango and numerous other sites. Her own website is frommtvtomommy.com.