From the outside looking in
A few months ago, a friend of mine told me he was getting a divorce. I’d never been a particularly good friend of his wife–we were friendly but not friends–and I’d never quite understood what he thought was so wonderful about her. Things I hadn’t allowed myself to wonder about about them suddenly made sense, and the split seemed necessary, if not predictable.
They were the couple that everyone looked at and thought were the benchmark of how Marriage Can Work. Together for years, good parents, pillar of the community. But what it looks like from outside someone else’s relationship isn’t what the truth is.
A few weeks ago LOD and I caught wind that another couple we knew might be splitting up. I was beyond stunned. They’d also been together forever, and they were one of the couples that made me realize that the white-knuckling and thinly-disguised despair that characterized my half of my marriage was not pre-ordained by the act of getting married. It seems impossible that they’d split. But what it looks like from outside someone else’s relationship isn’t what the truth is.
We happened to be together, having a meal with the kids, when it came to light. God bless technology, because we had a text discussion about the whole thing while the kids were oblivious, telling us stories and eating burritos. At one point I asked LOD if it made him feel worse when couples we really thought were meant to be with each other split up than our own split had made him. Our divorce was inevitable–we never should have gotten married in the first place, although I’m glad we did because we have two amazing children–but for people who really truly loved each other and could have been with each other forever? That, to me, is tragic. It hits me hard. And I wondered if it hit him hard, too.
LOD just texted to ask if I’d seen that Dooce and her husband are splitting up. I hadn’t, but hearing the news is sobering. Again, they seemed so happy together. What it looks like from outside, yadda yadda.
I wonder what it feels like to have lost not just your idea of how your life was going to go and the picture you presented, but to have lost something real and strong and true. I am sad for anyone who sees another way things could have gone and wishes things had gone that way. I wish I could tell anyone in this spot that it is going to turn out better than you imagined you life would be. But I can’t. I had nothing solid to hold on to, so letting go was no great trick. I can’t give assurance to anyone who is losing something that lived in their heart.
I hope, hope that for all of you things are better in two years. They won’t be better in six months, in all likelihood. But they can be better in two years. And I hope that they are.