Monday, February 24, 2014

Why Divorce Hasn't Changed My Views on Marriage

 Thoughts of this post have been stewing in my head for months but I knew I wanted some time to really think about how to explain myself and also, how to help others going through something similiar.

When I woke up today, it seemed like the right day to start writing this.
As a little girl, I wanted life to be a fairytale. I dreamed of that man who would sweep me off my feet and who would always be there to love and care for me. 
I just knew that someday, I would be married in the temple and life would give me that stability I had always craved. I had such a firm belief in marriage and hoped that decision would get to be a part of my life someday.
We grow up watching fairytales and wishing those same things for our life but what we aren't always taught is the good is usually intertwined with some very hard. I use the word hard as a noun here because it doesn't have one simple meaning. Hard can mean debt or loss of trust or infidelity or little arguments or death or loss of motivation or impatience, among many, many other things. No one gets to have a perfect marriage because no one is perfect. Marriage isn't always fun and it takes work, a lot of work, to figure life out together but marriage is worth it.
And why do I believe marriage is worth it?
Marriage, when both parties are committed, is beautiful. It goes beyond a serious relationship because you have vowed to stick it out, through thick and thin. Marriage is loving someone at their best and continuing to love them at their worst. Marriage is trust, a whole lot of trust. It is teachable, humbling, and can be so much fun! Most importantly, I believe marriage is ordained of God. It is a sacred bond between two people who love and respect one another. I believe God is not only forgiving, He understands when marriages fall apart. He understands why and He knows that because of certain situations, it's ok to let go. But out of all the failed marriages, that isn't the case for even half of them. God wants us to give our heart to our spouse but to also love them enough to give them our time, our respect, and our trust. It's really hard work and some days, it seems like it would be easier to be single and have more freedom but I have been in a marriage where I wanted to succeed and I have been in a marriage where I wanted to give up {If you're confused, I'm referring to the same marriage since I've only been married once}, and I will say that when two people are working hard together, marriage a beautiful experience, far outweighing the pro's of being single.
As a wife who had just celebrated her one year anniversary, I was listening to some crap radio on the way to work when they were talking about infidelity and how it is very normal to cheat on your spouse around year 7. They justified infidelity on so many levels and I was floored. I knew I couldn't just sit there and listen to a discussion on such a sacred subject without adding my own thoughts. Something inside of me told me to call the radio station and I did. I was put on the air and started explaining what I believed and why I believed it. I was in the middle of saying something when the radio host asked how long I had been married. I gave them the honest answer and they started laughing. And not only did they laugh, they remained talking about me for at least a few minutes before I turned off the station, red with embarrassment.
I had only been married a year. I had no idea what that 7 year itch was like! I had no credibility.
That day, I was saddened by the loss of faith in marriage these days. I couldn't believe that some people thought marriage wasn't all that important and that committing to someone forever was truly unrealistic.
I knew my life would be different. We would get past whatever 7 year itch they were referring to because we were strong and committed.

And then one day, about 6.5 years into our marriage, one half of our marriage decided he wanted out and let me tell you, one of the first things that flashed through my mind was that radio conversation from 6 years ago. I was angry. Actually, angry is an understatement. I couldn't believe this was going to be my life. I tried to place blame everywhere, including on myself---and I still do at times.
We had become part of that norm. Our marriage that was supposed to last forever was dissolved in a matter of days. I knew when he moved out that he wouldn't be coming back, not because him or I had made any decisions but because I had prayed for days about it.
I tried to accept it. I tried to understand that I was now part of a social norm when I didn't want to be. It was my fairytale's nightmare.

But three days after it happened, three days after sinking so low and not wanting to leave my house and crying until there were no tears left, I picked myself up and decided this wasn't some norm. This wasn't the end of my fairytale. I had decisions in this!

So I decided not to lose my faith in marriage. I decided to trust that it would be possible to be with someone for eternity.
Although it is going to take a lot to trust and a lot of work, I have faith in marriage.
 I know marriage is hard. I know it is work. And I know it is scary.

But so is letting my children leave my sight and going to school full time and planning on being brave enough to own my own practice someday.

Life is scary because we don't get to decide what choices everyone else makes. We don't get to control the world and decide who stays in our lives and who leaves.

But we do get to decide how we handle life. We get to decide what attitude we have with the situations we are given. We get to decide if we are going to take the left path or the right path.
Yes, marriage takes two people but we really only get to decide if we are all in. We can't force anyone else. We can't make them stay or make them appreciate us. All we can do is try to show them we want them to stay and show them we appreciate them. How we treat others is 100% our choice and it is imperative that we take that choice seriously. We affect others on a daily basis.

Marriage taught me so much more than I ever could have imagined. As a young 19 year old girl, I was blissfully in love and felt like the heartache from my growing up years was over. But marriage taught me to look outside myself and live for someone else. Marriage taught me things I never planned on learning.
And divorce has taught me even more.
I think what I'm realizing is that it isn't about whether you've survived a divorce. are happily in a marriage, have gone through the death of a loved one, or are living another story, every day is teachable. Every experience I go through, good and bad, has it's moments where I can choose to learn or ignore.

My marriage didn't ruin me and my divorce won't ruin me. It may take more work than I wanted to get back to where I was but nothing gets to ruin me without my say!

That pain and heartache will someday be a thing of the past and I'll look back and see how much I've grown. I'm so grateful for an eternal perspective on life. I'm grateful to know that God loves me and never abandons me. I feel Him. I know He is there when I need Him most.

I believe in marriage. I believe marriage can work. I believe any two individuals working together will make a marriage work.


jobees said...

Truth from a woman of strength.

Alicia Fish said...

I don't know that I could have said any of this better myself. You're amazing! And I love you! How grateful I am that can claim you as family!

Lora Steele said...

What a heartwarming post, Suze! It's true that a lot of people often lose faith in marriages when they experience hitting the bottom that is divorce, which is really difficult to go through with. I know just how frustrating it could be. It will rob you of every belief you have in fairy tales, and it will drag you to the bottom of a hole you never wanted to dig. However, it gets better, if we let it. I sincerely hope more people will read your post. You' are a very strong person to have such a positive mindset. Thank you so much for sharing that! All the best to you! :)

Lora Steele

Joanne Krueger said...

Awww! Reading your post brought me tears. You are very strong in facing the negative side of your marriage. Just continue to look at the brighter side of life. I know that you are now happy with your new life together with your children. They are the ones who will truly love you and will never leave you behind. Someone deserves your love and cherishment, and that’s no other than your family. Thank you for sharing that! Stay what you are. More power to you!

Joanne Krueger @ Kurtz And Blum