Why My Parents’ Divorce Didn’t Make Me Cynical

March 26, 2018  |  
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When I tell people that I come from divorced parents, they often say things like, “You must never want to get married” or “That must have made you a little cynical about love.” And I don’t blame them for thinking those things. The fact is that a lot of other children of divorce I know are a bit pessimistic about the whole idea of matrimony and devoting their lives to one person. It’s a common side effect of having your home torn apart. But to be honest, I’m thankful for what happened to my parents. I wouldn’t wish that type of pain and turmoil on anyone, but ultimately, it made all of us learn a lot about ourselves, and made us all stronger. The older I get, the more I realize that everything happened exactly as it was supposed to. Here is why having divorced parents didn’t make me cynical.

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Their story was riddled with red flags

When people worry about divorce, they imagine some scenario in which a marriage is perfectly happy and loving one day and spontaneously combusts the next. But that’s not really what happens. My parent’s origin story, for example, was riddled with red flags. They were both with other people when they began dating. They were long distance and had spent a total of maybe one month together before getting engaged. I don’t know why they didn’t see the red flags, but I do. If you ask many divorced couples about how they got together, you might realize, “Oooooh. Yeah. This thing was headed for disaster from the beginning.

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I learned about communication break down

I saw the way my dad would just shower my mom with presents and massage treatments and vacations when she was upset, rather than talk out what was wrong. In my relationship, we brush nothing under the rug. Nobody leaves the house until we have communicated through a problem.

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I learned about the slippery slope of cheating

My parent’s marriage saw a lot of infidelity on my dad’s part. I watched how a small flirtation could get out of hand rapidly, and how it ultimately made you feel more and more distant from your partner. Do I sometimes find other men appealing? Sure. But I keep my interactions with them in check. I put up walls that make it clear I am not open to anything inappropriate. You have to guard your relationship—nobody else will do it for you.

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I learned the importance of independence

My mother, unfortunately, sacrificed her own career to move to a new country to be with my father, and then have two children. But beyond that, we had a live-in nanny and housekeeper. My dad wanted my mom available for his entertainment and socializing when he got off work. This left my mom, with little life of her own and rather depressed. I saw first-hand how sacrificing your own life for a marriage never works out.

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I learned not to rush things

As I mentioned, my parents barely knew each other when they got engaged. They were long distance, and had spent a total of a month or so in the same place. And then…surprise…they weren’t that compatible after all! I’m grateful to have learned the important lesson of not rushing things. I’ve been with my boyfriend for five years, and we aren’t getting married any time soon—it’s something we’ve discussed extensively.

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I see the importance of unconditional love

I’ve asked my parents what they saw in each other. My mom said “He was very handsome, and took me on nice trips” and my dad said “She was the most attractive woman I’d ever met.” Not quite the building blocks of a deep bond, huh? I learned through them that a connection cannot survive on one or two fleeting traits. My boyfriend and I have been broke and hideous in front of each other, and still felt very happy. I see the value in that because of my parent’s divorce.

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Other failures don’t make me cynical

I don’t base the likelihood of my success in other endeavors based on statistics. When thinking of career goals, I don’t stop and think, “Most people don’t make it, so why even try?” So if I don’t take that attitude towards the rest of my live, why should I take it towards marriage?

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Therapy isn’t such a big deal these days

It’s my belief that couples counseling could have saved a lot of divorced couples, if only it hadn’t been so taboo up until recently. So, it’s nice to know that I have that lifeline, should I need it.

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I don’t feel pressure to get married

A big reason I don’t feel cynical about marriage is that I don’t feel pressured to get married. I realize my partner and I aren’t married but, we live together, we have a dog together, we take care of each other, and we’ve begun planning a future together. Marriage will be a little cherry on top of this already wonderful sundae, but it’s not crucial.

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My parents are happily re-married

Both of my parents have now been with new people, with whom they are much more compatible, for over a decade. It may not be the most conventional outlook but, divorce allowed for that.

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Too many people take marriage lightly

The whole 50 percent divorce rate statistic doesn’t really phase me because we need to think about demographics. Not all those couples are the same. In fact, a lot of couples take marriage too lightly. Naturally, they get a divorce. They deserve their own category—their own separate statistic.

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And many feel culturally pressured

When hearing about the 50 percent divorce rate, we also can forget about all of the people who feel pressured to get married early. Either for cultural, financial, or social reasons, they tie the knot too young or too soon in a relationship. The 50 percent of couples getting divorced are not all couples who took their time to get to know each other, and were emotionally and mentally stable before getting married. Let’s not forget that.

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I’m a survivor

When my parents were divorcing, my life was a mess. I heard and saw things I shouldn’t have. I had to reach deep inside myself to find a way to laugh, be happy, and want to move forward in positive rather than destructive ways. I’m grateful that I developed those tools at a young age.

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I’m with a survivor

I’m with another child of divorce, and it affected him in many of the ways it affected me. Is it okay to say that sometimes I feel like we have super powers because of it? Because I can really see how our experiences gave us the tools we use, every day, to have a happy, healthy relationship.

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There are plenty of unhappily married people

I’m glad divorce exists as an option. There are too many people who stay in unhappy marriages their entire lives, and believe that is somehow a success. Being miserable your whole one and only precious life is not a success. I’m glad people can get divorced; I’m glad my parents did. No hard feelings here.

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