I’m a nerd, and I love divorce. Therefore I love information about divorce, and much of such information comes from studies about divorce. After separating from my husband, I discovered The Good Divorce by Constance Ahrons.
A few months later, I read the follow-up, We’re Still Family: What Grown Children Have to Say About Their Parents’ Divorce. A couple years later, I immersed myself in E. Mavis Hetherington’s research findings in For Better or for Worse: Divorce Reconsidered. Judith Wallerstein’s work is still on my To-Read List.
That being said, I think the studies are getting a little ridiculous. In a single morning, I read that individuals with more siblings are less likely to divorce. And then I read that couples with longer commutes are more likely to divorce, as are people who weigh between 100 and 200 pounds. I’ve heard that children of divorced parents are more likely to have difficulties with math and splurge irresponsibly on “retail therapy.”
Of course, I find myself comparing my circumstances to the stats. As a child of divorce, I excelled at math and now responsibly live within my means. My mom only has one sibling, while my father has four.
Should I assume that an eating disorder might have saved my marriage (for several reasons, I hope not)? I understand there might be some who are curious about such things. But for those of us who are actually divorced (and therefore acutely sensitive about the topic), what purpose does this information serve? My guess is that it serves up a lot of doom, gloom, shame and blame. Don’t we have enough of that already?
As a culture, can we stop pointing fingers? Can we stop soothing and/or scorching ourselves with science? Can we stop reducing the uncertainties and complexities of life to frivolous facts which deny the humanity that connects as well as disconnects us?
An intact marriage isn’t necessarily a healthy marriage. Every family is different and each one of us evolves over time. Life happens, and sometimes, for a multitude of reasons, marriages end. Divorce is never easy, yet those who’ve been through it can attest that it’s an experience which affords an opportunity to flourish in a new kind of brilliance.
Let’s turn our attention away from those studies that vilify and validate us. Marital statuses and divorce indicators aside, the most important thing is that we do our best to take care of ourselves, and each other, while trying to enjoy this bumpy ride called “life”.