Divorce and happiness
Maybe it’s time to talk about my own divorce.
A very dear friend called me after my recent blog entry about marriage and happiness, to ask if what I wrote was really what I meant. She felt again from my words the pressure some people feel that if they divorce, they’re not “genuine Christian Scientists.” And that’s so *not* what I meant that I wanted to clarify with my own experience.
I married my high school sweetheart at 21, right after we both attended colleges in different states. We barely knew each other, let alone having our own selves figured out. We separated about six years later, divorcing the following year.
My own happiness and his figured greatly into the decision to end it. I can see now that I was young and in hot pursuit of my own gratification on many levels. The times when I was most earnest about saving my marriage involved me suborning my personality so completely that I couldn’t sustain it. The pattern emerged that if one of us were happy, the other wasn’t. It was almost as though our happiness were mutually exclusive. We had no concept of working together to make the *marriage* happy.
One day it struck me that if this marriage were to work, one of us was going to have to change radically. I had already demonstrated that I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t make the changes that would make me the perfect wife for him, even though there were times when my acting was pretty convincing to friends and family. He not only showed no capacity to change, but I was also beginning to feel it was wrong to demand it of him.
The startling realization then came that he had the right to be himself. Being married to me was putting him in the position of receiving constant disapproval for who he was, and that hit me as very wrong. Who was I to impose that on him, especially if I loved him? Which I always did, making this transition all the more confusing. But the idea of my not having the right to even want him to be something other than who he was brought me some clarity.
So, I left. In listening to my agonizing one day, a close family friend said thoughtfully, “Maybe sometimes the divorce *is* the healing.” That comment released a lot of the burden I was feeling, and I’m so grateful to her for saying it.
My point about happiness in marriage is that happiness is a requirement. It’s not enough for the two people to be individually happy. The marriage itself, the combination of the two people and what they can build together, needs to be happy. Christian Science can encourage that happiness. Christian Science can also bring the clarity to know to end something that’s not working.
Maybe with what I know now and the maturity I would have been bringing to the table, my marriage could have worked out eventually. But that’s not the way it rolled out. Divorce allowed us both to form new homes and find our own versions of happiness.
Sometimes divorce *is* the healing. It was for me.
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