When my parents got divorced, I was only a few months away from getting engaged. Actually, their divorce finalized four days after I got engaged. At 26 years old, I thought I had dodged the bullet that splits families apart. I thought, Well, if they aren’t divorced by now, I guess they’re going to stick it out. Suck it up. Keep their vows miserably until death do them part and all that.
In high school, I didn’t think it was strange that they slept in separate bedrooms. I knew they argued a lot and they were easily annoyed with each other, but they didn’t have the usual screaming, name-calling fights that I thought future divorcees were supposed to have. I don’t want to go into the details of who did what and why.. That’s their business. I would, however, like to share my perspective. If you’re wondering, they’ve both read this post and given me permission to share it.
It was so awkward at first. Our tiny community was shocked. My parents are so funny. They do connect really well as far as humor goes. People who knew them as a couple knew they liked to joke around. They laughed with each other almost every day. I thought those moments would be enough to keep them together. We had the best family vacations. None of us fought at all on vacation. I think that is what revived my parents’ marriage every year. It’s what held them together when they had to go back to the real world. Then, right when they would reach a breaking point, we would have Christmas or Mom would get cancer or Dad would have a heart attack. You know. The usual things that keep you from dipping out.
The first thing I thought about when they told me was how sad it would be that my child (Who didn’t exist yet) wouldn’t know us as a family unit. The three of us together were amazing. We had so much fun. I was proud of us. The Boys Family was a happy one-a fun group of individuals with great chemistry. I think one thing I didn’t realize is that I was unknowingly keeping them together. I was the piece of the puzzle that fit with each of them, right in the middle. I don’t know that it was a “stay together for Becca” sort of thing. I think it was more of a “things feel not so bad when Becca is here” sort of thing. Because my personality is exactly half-Debbie and half-Bill, I made the family blend together, which made our life enjoyable. Usually.
These jerks decided to get divorced like a week before Thanksgiving. THE HOLIDAYS SUCKED. The second one sucked a little less than the first, and only a few years later, it feels normal. There are times when I get pissed off all over again. When my mom wants me to help her do something that dad would have had to do if he still lived there. When dad had another heart episode and I was at the hospital with him alone. When I was taking care of mom after her breast reconstruction. It’s not that I didn’t want to be there for them. It’s just that if they had stayed together, I wouldn’t feel such a huge responsibility to do so.
I remember asking my best friend, Sarah, if things got better. Her parents had waited until she was a senior in high school to split up. She said they do and they don’t-and she was right. I am very used to it now, but every once in a while, I have a flashback to a happier time and throw a pity party because we will never go to Disney World together again. I wonder, though, how awful would life be for me if they had stayed together? Happy Debbie is so much fun to be around. She didn’t exist the last few years of my parents’ marriage. She sat in front of her computer screen all night baking cyber cakes. Dad had night terrors at least once a week at home. Since he moved out, he hasn’t had even one. He isn’t angry all the time.
Mom has fallen in love with a new man. Dad has fallen in love with the bachelor life. They were both there at my child’s birth and his first birthday party. There have even been occasions where it’s been only the three of us and Jack. A few months ago, we were all at Mom’s house playing with Jack and laughing. These random occasions remind me that my son (and future children) WILL know the three of us how we used to be. Not only that, but that’s all he will know. He will never see them unhappy with each other because they no longer have that ability. They are now only friends and have no obligations to each other. They still joke around and they are proud of the child they made together and the grandson they both adore. There is a love there that will never go away.
I think Mom and Dad got married because they made each other laugh and because it was the time in their lives when people are supposed to get married. Rick might make me laugh, but he also checks off in many other areas of what I wanted in a husband. I know both of my parents are reading this and thinking about things the other one didn’t check off on. They’re probably thinking, Dammit. Shoulda made a list. I’m so glad they didn’t. I’m so glad they screwed up! If they hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here.
I was wondering if it had been better if they had just gotten divorced when I was younger. Then, I think about children whose parents are divorced. Do they wish they had waited? Maybe. The point is, it happens, and no matter how old the children are, divorce sucks. I don’t know much about how children feel when their parents separate, but I imagine it rocks their world a lot harder than it does an adult. I was 26 years old. I understood it. I supported it. I knew that they were in a bad place and I wanted them to both be happy more than anything in the world. Still, it sucked. I got angry with both of them so many times. For the first year, I looked for reasons to feel sorry for myself. Whenever one of them would say something negative about the other, I would break down. They learned to cut that crap out REAL quick. To think that the two people I loved so deeply for my entire life no longer loved each other the way I wanted them to was a pain like no other-but you know what? They weren’t dying. Well, at one point, I thought both of them might die, but they didn’t. Neither one of them was moving away. No one left me alone. I still have two parents. Both of them love me. No one ever beat me or made me feel like I wasn’t worth anything. It had nothing to do with me. Nothing at all. If anything, I was the only good thing left between them. I was their good. It took me a while to really understand this.
I think if your parents are together, it can encourage you to have a love story like theirs. You see their happy marriage and want to mimic it-but my parents did a good job of getting along in front of me. I think they did a brilliant job of parenting. I choose to pick the good things to mimic, and be very cautious about the bad. Their divorce has made me cherish my marriage more than I think I would have before. A marriage can be broken if you don’t maintain it. Even a really funny one with lots of awesome vacations and inside family jokes. Even one where both spouses love their child unconditionally. Even a really, really good one. So, be careful with your heart and don’t get married just because “it’s time” to get married. Think about your future. Think about your children and their hearts. They, too, can be broken.