One of my friends had been seeing a guy for a couple of months when he came out with a secret. He’d been married before. He was divorced.
She thought he seemed ashamed of it when he told her. She didn’t care or judge him for it, but he seemed to think that she would, or that it would be some kind of dealbreaker for her. He said that it made him “damaged goods”. Like he was somehow worth less to a potential partner than he would be if he had never been married.
Another example. I remember an episode of Sex and the City where Miranda is dating a divorced guy who has a son. Discussing him with her friends, she says, “I don’t wear vintage clothes. I hate flea markets. I don’t collect antiques. Is it too much to ask that he not be, I don’t know… used?”
Sigh. I mean, I get it. I do. Everyone has a past, but divorced people have more of a past than most. It means you made a promise that was supposed to last a lifetime, but for whatever reason, it didn’t. A lot of people see it as some kind of failure. It’s something that you will always carry with you into any future relationships. At some point you will have to say it: “I was married before.”
But hold on a minute. Is it really true, that being divorced means that you are flawed in some way? I suppose it probably does mean that at some point you made a mistake, whether it’s that you ignored red flags and married the wrong person or did something to trigger a breakup or didn’t pay enough attention to your spouse or whatever the case may be. But who hasn’t made mistakes? And what about all those people who stay in unhappy and unhealthy marriages because they are afraid to be alone? Maybe they are the “damaged goods”… not us, not the ones who weren’t too afraid or too proud to admit that they had made a mistake.
A reader commented on my blog once that it takes a strong person to leave, but sometimes it takes a strong person to stay. And that is certainly true. I’ll be the first to admit that marriage isn’t a fairy tale, it has its ups and downs, and it takes a lot of hard work to keep it together. But what about those marriages, like mine, where you are so clearly wrong for each other that there is no hope you will ever be happy or fulfilled? Should we be considered to have less value as people just because we chose to leave?
I recognized that what I perceived to be his shortcomings were, in reality, simply incompatibilities between us. And then I took action to put both of our lives back on the path to happiness. How can anyone look down on me for that?
Would I be more “damaged” if I had stubbornly refused to end my marriage? I think so. I know that I am marked forever because of the decisions I made. But I’m okay with that. It is better than the alternative. If people judge me or look down on me for it, and I know they do… so be it. I live my life fully now. I am a happier person and a more loving and patient mother than I was when I lived with a man I did not love. And that is worth any price I have paid.Add a Comment