Not all marriages are meant to last a lifetime. Resisting this simple fact feeds the destructive cycle of shame and blame. When it comes to divorce, the societal consensus is that something has gone terribly wrong. The “divorce = failure” meme is so deeply embedded into our modern culture that we rarely question it.
Since nearly half of marriages end, it’s time to rethink what divorce means to us individually, to our families and culturally. A life-long, happy marriage is wonderful. However, it’s not the only standard by which to measure relationship “success.”
Let’s shift from blame and shame to understanding that a successful marriage, no matter the length, is one that contributes to knowing ourselves better and evolving into more loving, compassionate people.
It’s Time to Transform Your Relationship With Divorce
We don’t go into marriage planning on it going up flames. No matter how or why it ended, there can be some embarrassment about it and a lingering sense of failure. In fact, when you tell people you’re getting divorced, they usually say, “I’m sorry,” which reinforces the notion that divorce is not an acceptable outcome. At the same time, our culture has normalized nastiness as the default for divorcing couples. The media promotes conflict and bad behavior as entertainment. The internet mob mentality ranges from mocking and suspicion to open hostility toward those who proclaim goodwill in the face of divorce.
The toxic stew of culturally reinforced shame, blame and judgment keeps people stuck, sometimes for years, in bitterness and regrets. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
I’m inviting you to transform your relationship to divorce itself. I call this the “no shame, no blame, reframe” model which looks at divorce as a master level course in our curriculum at “life school.”
By revising our individual and collective perspectives, we can find things to celebrate about what we learned and what we gained from the experience. If you’re willing to open yourself up to this shift, your divorce has put you on the fast-track to transformation, self-awareness and healing.
The opportunity here is to reframe divorce and elevate the way we think about, and talk about, our marriage and divorce experiences in a way that’s much more supportive to all involved. Redefining the meaning of divorce is especially important to the children of divorcing couples. With this more open-hearted perspective, it’s much easier to maintain a semblance of cooperation and collaboration even as the family unit is evolving to something new.
The reality is that divorce is not good or bad, it just is.
Shame, blame and judgment shut us down. Reframing divorce from a failure of character to a catalyst we can use to know ourselves better, heal our wounds and improve our lives, opens us up to reaping the inherent gifts of every relationship, including those that end in divorce.
Deb Purdy, is a transformation coach, speaker, workshop leader and author of
Something Gained: 7 Shifts to Be Stronger, Smarter and Happier After Divorce.