It’s that time of year…Summer time = Wedding season. In my circle it also means anniversary season. Starting in June, my social media news feed is filled declarations of love, commitment & gratitude from one spouse to the other, thanking him/her for 10…17…29 years of wedded bliss. These postings are usually accompanied by a photo of the happy couple on their wedding day. I love seeing these pictures of my friends looking so young, beautiful and madly in love. In many instances, I also enjoy remembering their special day – the touching ceremony, moving speeches and the crazy party afterwards (OK, so I don’t always remember the party).
Now I know that many of these marriages have endured their share of ups and downs, but I admire those couples who were able to work through the challenges to form a bond that is strong and enduring. I sincerely hope that they will continue to love and grow together. I may be the Divorce Doula but in most cases, I still believe in the institution of marriage. And I’ll admit it: there are some days I miss it. I can honestly say that I have made peace with the end of my marriage but there are also days when it’s hard to shake the feeling that I have failed. I failed at happily ever after. I failed to keep my family together. I failed to make love stay.
This feeling has kept me company on many dark nights of the soul. So many mistakes, so many regrets. But then I remember that marriage is not a test that one can pass or fail. I remind myself of what I did right: I had 15 years wonderful years with an amazing man. We supported & encouraged each other professionally & emotionally. We traveled, shared irreplaceable experiences, mourned great losses and created two extraordinary human beings.
But we weren’t meant to be together forever. Separately, it took us several years to accept this but maybe it’s time we looked at the traditional model of “til death do us part” as my cool big buddy Emma Johnson of Wealthysinglemommy.com has done with her 10 year marriage contract The institution of marriage has evolved over time (Remember when women were chattel? No same sex marriage?) & Emma believes its time for another revolution: where two people define their goals for the marriage up front (like a pre-nup but not just about the finances) & in year 9 commit to having an honest discussion about whether they want to “renew” the contract for another 10 years, make adjustments or decide to part.
Radical? Maybe. But consider that most of us had significant relationships before we got married & being serial monogamists we will likely have future long term relationships after divorce. Maybe that is the key to a successful marriage AND a successful divorce: not feeling like a failure but rather accepting that the relationship has run its course & to part with dignity & respect. And not being afraid to love again.
For now, I remain a pragmatic romantic & open to the possibility of love in the second act (despite what on-line dating is doing to erode that hope). Who knows? I could be posting my own anniversary photos on Facebook one day.