It is raining and it is Sunday, so there was nothing for it but to go to our local cafe and have a late breakfast. There is something very decadent and delicious about being able to go somewhere where you can sit down and have food magically appear before you without having to even move a muscle. If you dream it, it shall be. At least that’s how we feel when we order our poached eggs on brown toast with iced coffee on the side.
What we did not know and what no wild and fantastical dream could have conjured, was that we would end up sitting next to two men engrossed in a conversation about divorce. The conversation had to be shared: for its honesty and its insight.
Man 1: “Her parents stayed together for the sake of her and her sister. They stayed together for over twenty years and they decided to get divorced once she left for uni. She was really, really upset, I felt so awful for her. Her parents had stayed together for the kids, but they hated each other; when one walked into the lounge, the other would leave. It was like that throughout her childhood. But they stayed together because they didn’t want to fuck up their kids. I’m really not sure how that works. The tension in the house growing up was awful. I remember it from when we used to go over there”.
Man 2: “Yeah, it’s so difficult, isn’t it. One of my friend’s parents also stayed together for eighteen years even though they wanted to get a divorce. The mum ended up sleeping on a pull-out sofa bed in the sitting room for eleven years. Eleven years. And the parents pretty much lived separate lives. How fucked up is that? But they stayed together for the kids and now that really screwed up way of life seems normal to her and her brothers and sisters. How’s that going to affect their own relationships with people?”
Man 1: “But then there are those couples who stay together for their kids and manage to stay friends, aren’t there?”
It was a compelling conversation, bringing up lots of very interesting things, some of which are already becoming accepted in mainstream media and the field of family law. Things like, conflict being the real enemy as opposed to divorce, the fact that staying together for the kids is not always the safest option for them and perhaps also that divorce can sometimes bring families closer than marriage ever could.
Wanting to be happy is not always about making a selfish choice: it can be about making a choice that will allow you to function effectively, whether that means working things out in a marriage or through divorce. Is the union of marriage really the only efficient way of keeping people truly together, in the purest sense of the word? After all, you can be sitting next to someone on a sofa, but you can be a million miles away….