Are you feeling guilty about divorce?
Are you miserable in your marriage but feel you don’t have a good enough reason for wanting to end your marriage?
Are you thinking that divorce means you’ve failed?
Do you know why you’re thinking like this? Where these thoughts are coming from?
You may not realize it but much of this thinking comes from our culture and the way we’re raised. This is a conversation I often have with clients who are trying to decide if divorce is right for them and lots of the comments on my blog here are rooted in this issue. Exploring this allows you to challenge the beliefs and values you’ve subconsciously accepted along the way and to make conscious decisions about what you believe, given your own life experiences.
In Sacred Cows: The Truth About Divorce and Marriage, Captain of Moonshots at Google[x], Astro Teller, Ph.D. and his wife, Danielle Teller M.D. set about explaining this by challenging readers to take a fresh look at seven sacred cows and the beliefs they represent:
- The Holy Cow: Marriage is always good and divorce is always bad.
- The Expert Cow: All marital problems can be fixed with the right self-help book or marriage counselor.
- The Selfish Cow: Everyone who gets divorced is selfish, and everyone who stays married is selfless.
- The Defective Cow: If you cannot make your marriage happy, or if you choose to divorce, you must be defective in some way.
- The Innocent Victim Cow: Children’s lives are ruined by divorce.
- The One True Cow: Finding true love should be your highest goal in life unless you are married, in which case you should stop believing in true love.
- The Other Cow: Nobody should be allowed to leave a marriage in order to be with a new partner.
Through their own divorces the Tellers learned how widely held cultural assumptions and misinformation that nobody thinks to question—these “sacred cows”—create unnecessary heartache for people who are already suffering through a terrible time.
“We did not write this book to advocate for divorce,” say the Tellers. “We are happily married, and passionately devoted to one another. To be “for” marriage or “for” divorce misses the point. What this book stands “for” is the freedom to decide how to live most honestly and happily either as part of a couple or a single person.
Divorce does still carry a social stigma. Although we’ve come far in changing that, there’s still more to be accomplished and the Tellers’ book will help. For yourself, succumbing to the social stigma is a choice and Sacred Cows will help you figure out what you want to choose. It’s definitely worth a read.
P.S. One of my pet peeves around divorce is marital status on official forms. Most of the options such as divorced or widowed are life experiences, not marital status. But the bigger question is why is it even relevant?