So, Brangelina is getting divorced and the world is freaking out. They are either laughing about “karma” – even though we don’t know that infidelity actually played a part in anything – or there is an outpouring of grief for the children who must be “caught in the middle.”
But I’m actually glad to hear the news. Because what it means is that one, or both, of the parties was miserable, tried but couldn’t make the changes they desired, and then pulled an adult and made a very tough decision.
And here’s a newsflash: families are not broken by divorce — they are fixed.
I read that statement, written by Constance Hall earlier this year, and it absolutely nailed the way we need to think about divorce. There is way too much stigma attached to it.
Yes, it’s sad. No one wanted things to turn out like this. No one deliberately planned for things to end. At least one of the parties gave it their all to make necessary changes. But, I’ve known way too many marriages where the spouses suffer in silence because they are too afraid of the stigma of divorce.
Divorce may be sad because it’s the end of a chapter, but it's certainly not a death knoll for happiness for everyone involved.
I know this because I know a bit about divorce. Well, shitloads, actually. Not only did I advise people on their divorces for a decade, I was also a third wife. My husband – who is now my ex and my baby daddy – had two children from two different marriages when I met him. And no, I didn’t see those things as warning signs – I was very young, and very in love (though that makes me vom in my mouth a little to admit that now).
Listen to the Mamamia Out Loud panel discuss the Brangelina split. (Post continues...)
As the third wife, I got to witness the aftermath of two divorces for 10 years. The children came and went from our home, we navigated holidays and birthdays, music lesson payments, etc. There were many disagreements on the spectrum of passive-aggressive texts to Taylor Swift vs the Wests, but I know one thing for sure; the kids knew they were loved and they were surrounded by family wherever they were. The kids had rich family lives, full of new extended family (by the introduction of my peeps – super cool to them, a total pain in the ass to me). The children undoubtedly spent their time between two loving and happy homes.
To put that in perspective, consider the fact that many kids don’t even have one loving and happy home, let alone two. Watching the kids I met when they were six and two years old, grow into adults, I know that they considered themselves as lucky kids with stable families - sometimes even more so than the kids of unhappily married parents. Sure, we all had to work at it and there were loads of ups and downs, but show me a family that doesn’t apply to.
Divorce does not always mean one maligned parent, and endless custody and property battles. I know many happily divorced people – moi, for example - because people can genuinely rebuild and move on. Humans are awesome like that.
Divorce brings many benefits to an unhappy marriage; the spouses "find themselves" again, reconnect with people from their past, and the children are no longer privy to their parents' desperate unhappiness. And for most divorcees, there's a new world of dating to explore (but I’ll save the tales of my post-divorce sexploits for another time).
I know I’ve been lucky in my divorce – I once called it “a dip in a champagne- filled swimming pool on a hot Summer’s day” in comparison to Sally Faulkner’s divorce. But her divorce, and the aftermath, is a very extreme case. Divorce can be very ugly, but it certainly is not always like that.
So, before we join the #PutOutYourFrenchChateau movement for the Brangelina kids, let’s consider for a second that their lives just may be about to improve in very significant ways.