Image for post
Image for post

Is Divorce Really All That Bad?

Jennifer Garner says it’s not as bad as you might think at the same time more people are against it. What’s up?

For some, the big news this week was that President Obama was in Cuba or the latest mishegas from Donald Trump, but in certain circles, the big news was about divorce.

Why we dislike divorce

Two years ago, M. Christian Green, a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University and a former lecturer at Harvard Divinity School, wrote that divorce doesn’t just affect a couple and their immediate family — friends, neighbors and entire communities are impacted as well. A divorce among those close to us makes us feel vulnerable, and we question our own marriage — if a couple we thought were perfectly happy together splits, well, what about us?

America has taught us that the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human right — yet because our society feels threatened by divorce, it does not particularly want to attach that concept to the dissolution of marriage. We want to talk about love and happiness on the way into marriage, but after the exchange of rings, we demand an old-fashioned narrative, one of self-sacrifice, loyalty and hard work.”

That’s true, and often it’s the women who are told, implicitly or not, that it’s their job to make their marriage work.

‘Not as bad as you might imagine’

But I want to get back to Garner’s statement that divorce is “not as bad as you might imagine.” Of course, that’s her experience — not necessarily yours, mine or anyone else’s. That said, she does qualify it with “as you might imagine,” which makes me think without a doubt that’s because of what we keep hearing about divorce. The societal narrative is that something must be wrong with you if you can’t make your marriage work — you’re not committed enough, you’re not willing to do the hard work, you’re deeply flawed or incredibly selfish, etc. — instead of acknowledging that, hey, sometimes people make mistakes. It also places longevity higher than marital quality; you can treat your spouse like crap for years and he or she may put up with it for whatever reason (fear, dysfunction, lethargy, etc.), and society will toast you for having a successful marriage because you made it until one of you dies.

Written by

Award-winning journalist, coauthor of “The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels,” mom, changing the narrative about older women

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store