• author
    • Hannah Sullivan

    • November 4, 2013 in Columnists

    Marriage, divorce, and Disney endings — or not

    Does getting a divorce mean you’ve failed or does it mean that you are strong enough to walk away? Ever since my parents decided to get a divorce I’ve flip flopped on whether or not I still believe (or ever believed) two people can be together forever. Divorce is more common in my family than happy marriage, so I sometimes fear it’s a cycle and someone needs to break it.

    My parents tried for years to make it work. Separating and getting back together. It was a rollercoaster I was so happy to finally get off of. I can’t tell you how many times I cried as I watched my dad leave and wake up the next morning to find him sleeping on the couch. Towards the end, my brother and I wouldn’t even flinch when our parents would try to tell us they were splitting up for the hundredth time. It just didn’t faze us anymore, which is pretty sad looking back on it now.

    I’m the one who asks questions and my brother would rather be left in the dark. I see this divorce through the eyes of an adult and don’t really see it as a big deal anymore. He’s still a kid and it’s hard for me to see this the way he does and vise versa. Our family is an open book. Anything you want to know – they will tell you (for the most part). I sometimes ask questions I later regret asking. I can’t say I’ve ever had that kind of relationship with my dad. Now with the divorce, I don’t think I ever will.

    I’m seeing relationships in a whole new light and I can’t help but feel a little turned off by the idea of one right now. I just celebrated my 22nd birthday. I’m right around the age my parents were when they got married. One year after they tied the knot – they had me. Getting married and having a baby is just not part of my five-year plan right now. If it happens – it happens. But who knows what tomorrow will bring. I would always say I wanted to be a young bride but now I’m dragging my feet to the point where I’m not even sure I want to get married. Once I find a guy I’ll be singing a different tune, you just wait. For now, I’m just not feeling it.

    On a happier note – my aunt and uncle renewed their vows this month and an old friend from high school announced her engagement not too long ago. I don’t want them to read this and think that I am poo-pooing marriage — even though I think I’m in that stage right now. I mostly feel bad when my friend, who asked me to be a bridesmaid by the way, talks about her wedding. It makes me so happy hearing about how excited she is and I wish her all the luck in the world. It just sucks that I’m watching her plan her wedding and watching my parents sign divorce papers at the same time. You’d think that seeing all these happy endings taking place would make me feel a little bit better, no?

    My biggest fear is that I’ll try to disprove divorce is a cycle so much that I’ll end up settling and being miserable, and then the inevitable happens. Settling is easy and a lot of people do it. I settled for a lot when I started dating seriously. I can’t even wrap my brain around how I rationalized staying with some ex’s as long as I did. I think because we were young, we obviously talked about marriage. I’m so embarrassed to admit that for some reason. I think every young couple does it. I remember it being a cute thing to think about in the honeymoon phase. As soon as I started hating that person’s face and contemplating our break up – I banned the “M” word from our conversations. Starting a life with that person didn’t do it for me the way it did in the beginning.

    I also think there’s some sort of need and pressure to make the relationship we are in now the “one.” The almighty “one”! Does it actually exist or do we just make it up? You be the judge. I personally think there can be multiple “one’s.” But then the Disney princess is me begs to differ.

    As far as I’m concerned, this divorce is the best thing that has ever happened to this family. The energy in the house has changed drastically. I think that my mom, my brother and I have all become closer. My mom and I have always had a special relationship. We can talk about anything and everything. It wasn’t always that way — especially not when I was an angsty teen.

    Now that my brother is older, we have a lot more in common and we spend a lot of time together even though we fight almost every day. It still makes me happy. Talking about my dad, on the other hand, is still a sensitive topic. A part of me wants to be mad at him and then the other part remembers that my parents are divorcing. He’s not divorcing us.

    No matter what age you are when your parents split up — it still hurts. I frequently ask my mom if she would ever consider getting married a second time. She is open to the idea. Doesn’t mean she will go through with it or not. Whenever my mom decides to get back into the dating world, I sort of imagine it as if we reversed roles. She will introduce us to a new guy and I will sit there and interview him like a parent would. “Are you good enough to date my mom? Then prove it.”

    I’ve never really had to give this topic too much thought before, but now it seems to be the only thing on my mind. When it happens and affects you personally you start to look at relationships in a new light. I start to wonder if it’s possible to be monogamous forever. I almost feel like I’ll start to think with my head more than I do my heart. I tend to fall in love very easily and I’m scared that’s my downfall. I can see it happening but I can’t stop it.

    The fear of divorce will not hold me back. I want to love like crazy. I want my chance at a happy ending.  A piece of paper and a party doesn’t prove or disprove my love for someone. And if a divorce happens – I’m strong enough to walk away and strong enough to pick up the pieces and start all over again.

    • Explore life, travel and don’t even think about marriage until after age 30 would be my advice. Lots of years ahead to find yourself without a partner so that a partner adds to your life and you learn to love yourself totally first.

        • Hannah Sullivan

        • November 5, 2013 at 8:14 pm
        • Reply

        That is solid advice. I like the way you think 🙂

    • recently put out a children’s rights video titled “Children See.” It depicts parents at their worst — abusive, violent, careless, angry — as well as their children following their lead. It’s disconcerting, disturbing, startling, but it’s also an excellent reminder for even the most thoughtful parent that our children are watching us, every minute of every day.

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