Recently I saw a news story about the break-up of a popular Hollywood couple. I was sad and surprised, as I’m sure many others were, because they had been together for many years (a marvel in the entertainment industry) and because they seem so “nice” and perfect together as a couple!
I’ve known many couples in my own life who rocked the social circles around them with a divorce announcement. In fact, I have been this couple!
Who would’ve thought they were having problems?
They seemed like such the perfect couple!
What everyone is really thinking is: if it can happen to them, it could happen to anyone- even us!
Some things we all need to bear in mind when a sudden and unexpected break-up occurs:
1) None of us really has any idea how happy they were or how perfect their life was! Only those living in the same house and privy to what happens behind closed doors can say for sure what is driving the end of the relationship.
Many people are very good at pasting on a happy face for the public for fear or shame of letting others know their home is plagued by abuse, infidelity, substance abuse, or a complete break-down of love and respect. We can never assume to know what’s in the hearts of others or to know with certainty how others live their life!
No one who knew my ex and I would have imagined that our marriage was in trouble. We were the classic married couple with two children and the house with the picket fence. No one ever saw us fight or would have even detected a chill between us. We became expert actors for the sake of having our family and children think everything was wonderful when, in fact, we were miserable and saved plenty of fights for home. That goes to show what anyone else knows!
2) Yes, indeed, it could happen to you too! Every marriage endures trials, and even the strongest of marriages can be brought to its knees. The only thing that can keep a relationship from succumbing to divorce is to work at it like it’s the most important thing in your life!
A couple needs to remain connected to prevent growing apart or becoming strangers. Making time for one another each day, continuing to date, and seeking help when struggling with intimacy, communication, or the inevitable challenges to a marriage’s strength ensure that it can remain healthy.
Divorce is not contagious, though many who know a divorcing couple may act like it is. What it does effectively do is make everyone around the situation question the strength of their own relationships. This is actually a good thing because everyone should regularly assess the health of their marriage and take action to maintain and preserve it. A friend’s divorce should be a wake-up call to never take your spouse or marriage for granted!
3) What is perfect, anyway? There really is no such thing as perfect! As already stated, every relationship, good or bad, is tested from time-to-time.
News flash: if a marriage ends in divorce, it was not perfect! This was probably either a matter of two spouses who were skilled at putting on an act for the outside world or one spouse who thought everything was fine, only to be blindsided by the actions of their partner.
In any case, we all do ourselves a major disservice by holding other couples up on a pedestal, as if we should all aspire to be like them. The truth is that the package may appear amazing; but, the interior may be dust! You can only worry about yourself and your relationship!
4) More reason not to feel bad about your situation! No matter the circumstances of your divorce, whether everyone else saw it coming a mile away or you took them all by surprise, the reality is that divorce happens! Divorce is an equal opportunity offender against couples of every description.
The fact that you are divorcing or divorced is not a testament to what kind of person you are. Older couples, young couples, couples representing every religion and ethnic group, same-sex couples, “nice” couples, “not nice” couples, and even Hollywood couples with “perfect” lives divorce! It’s unfortunate that any of us has to endure a divorce because let’s face it, they’re unpleasant!
Those of us in the “divorce club” should take heart in knowing that divorce is not some sort of character flaw, and there are a lot of us in this club! Members of this club have been handed a unique opportunity for growth that is, otherwise, difficult to achieve.
I, for one, did my part to screw up my past marriage. I wasn’t able to diagnose the problems (his or mine) until I was away from it. I grieved and felt like a failure for not living up to the “perfect” standards, but have since realized that we are all perfectly imperfect. There is no benefit I can derive from beating myself up for not still being together or actually being all we appeared to be.
Now I know that we make our own perfection, and my definition of the ideal life doesn’t need to be compared to anyone else’s! Happiness can exist for single, married, or divorced people. It doesn’t matter what anyone perceives our lives to be because there’s no way that they could ever know our lives to the depth needed to be accurate in their assumptions. If I want to achieve true happiness, with or without a partner, it will require continuous work, honesty, and give it the priority status it deserves!
It also wouldn’t hurt to drop the unnecessary pressure of perfection!
Audrey Cade is the author of “Divorce Matters: help for hurting hearts and why divorce is sometimes the best decision” and the matriarch of a blended family of eight. She is an experienced “divorce warrior” in the areas of co-parenting, step-parenting, parental alienation, and re-marriage, and enjoys sharing these experiences with others who are also committed to raising happy and healthy kids. Audrey’s professional experience is as a case manager social worker with the developmentally disabled, families with young children, and homeless populations. She holds degrees in Early Childhood Education, Human Service & Management, and a Master’s in Psychology.