Divorce stigma is alive and well, even in the 21st century. No matter how modern and progressive your social circle is, you still feel embarrassed to break the news about getting a divorce. People don’t even have to tell you to your face – you feel them judging you like an epic failure.
Remember The Scarlett Letter? That’s how it feels when you attend social gatherings. It’s like wearing this giant red “D” on your chest with all eyes mocking you. If you are currently beating yourself up over a relationship that just ended, ask yourself this: Are you really a failure because your marriage ended in divorce?
What Failure Means
According to the dictionary by Merriam-Webster, failure could be defined as any of the following:
- An abrupt cessation of normal functioning
- A falling short
- A lack of success
- A fracturing or giving way under stress
The last one describes what happens to a marriage that ultimately ends in divorce: they fracture under stress.
What Exactly is a Successful Marriage?
Is it a marriage that is grounded in a deep, fulfilling relationship? Is it a convenient partnership where one spouse meets the needs of the other and vice versa? Or is it staying together until one spouse dies?
Back in the day, a successful marriage was just a test of endurance and tolerance. However, people expect way more out of a marriage these days. The problem with the archaic view of marriage is that relationships involving physical, sexual, financial, and emotional abuse are still considered “successful” simply because the spouses stayed married.
Is your spouse a serial cheater? Does your partner beat you? Did they gamble away your life savings? Nonetheless, you stayed married, so that still makes you a success. Thankfully, the definition of a successful marriage has evolved in recent times. However, herein lies another problem: many single people look at marriage as a path to a Disney fairy tale.
The Constant Pursuit of “Happily Ever After”
From a very young age, we have heard of stories about finding our Princess or Prince Charming and living happily ever. Every Hollywood rom-com has sold us the idea that the key to eternal bliss is finding The One.
Unfortunately, these fairy tales and movies always end at the altar. They rarely give the audience a glimpse of what happens after the prince and princess ride off into the sunset. Do we know what happens when the endorphin rush of being in love wears off in a year or two? Are they still living “happily ever after” once the kids arrive, and they have to balance work and home?
Marriage is Not Always Forever
Remember your wedding day? When you both promised, “’til death do us part”?
Ideally, a spouse should be your best friend, lover, co-parent, and business partner. But what if, years later, you realize your spouse ISN’T all – or even ANY – of these things? Regardless of your best intentions and best efforts, you are NOT happily married. As it turns out, your spouse is no longer The One, and maybe never was!
Well, until you acknowledge that marriage is not always and forever, you will be stuck in an unhappy relationship. Are you willing to live the rest of your life staying in a marriage-on-life support or make the life-altering decision to pull the plug?
Divorce Does Not Make You a Failure
There is a big difference between failing at your marriage and failing as a human. Failure is a fact of life. Even the most successful people on the planet have experienced failure. Yet failing at doing something is not the same as being a failure.
Failure at your marriage does not have to define you. Sure, your marriage did not last as long as you have wanted. But it does not mean you failed as a person.
Fighting the Divorce Stigma
While getting a divorce today does not carry the same stigma as centuries ago, you still feel marked, tarnished, and ashamed. In fact, a lot of unhappy spouses stay in the marriage to avoid being viewed as a personal failure. Let’s face it: divorce happens. And when it happens to you, it isn’t pretty. However, beating yourself up for a failed marriage will only make you feel worse.
Divorce is not easy to heal. And it does not help when society continues to blame and shame you. Expect people to judge you. But don’t let their judgment define you.
You may be divorced, but you are not a failure. If you are looking to get a divorce, contact our family law legal experts at The Clark Law Office. We will lay down all your options to make sure that you don’t miss anything.