My Marriage Broke Down Around Age 30 — And So Did Most of My Friends’ Relationships by E. Woods
I must say I appreciate these articles that show that getting married is not an end-all, be-all to satisfaction in life, one reason of which is that divorce is a reality.
Sometimes, I do wonder about living in a secular culture (and Christian culture) that treats singleness like a failure or second-class status, without taking into account things like divorce, or stuff (Link): like this, where people find themselves single again.
Getting married for the first time when one is age 25 or so is NOT a guarantee that said marriage will last or be a happy one – maybe your spouse turns out to be a serial cheater, or ignores your emotional needs.
We began dropping like flies, one divorce or breakup after another…
Things started out so well. My wedding day was perfect. The sun shone down on the 15th-century castle we’d hired for a hundred guests, even though it was April in Ireland. I wore a silk and lace gown with hundreds of tiny sequins, and I was marrying the man I’d been with for three years.
We’d met working for a charity, and we both cared about trying to make the world better – we imagined ourselves living overseas, and probably having a baby in a year or so. He was straightforward, and kind, and supported me. Surely marriage would be easy… Yet just a year later I was contemplating divorce.
Things seemed to change at our one-year anniversary when we went to Germany for a friend’s wedding.
On that trip I remember wondering: is this all there is? Spending whole days apart on holiday, because I wanted to go to museums and he wanted to shop? Having to beg him to turn off his work emails for a few days? Coming home and not speaking for hours at a time.
At the time, I dismissed these as silly doubts. There was no question of it not working out. And all my friends seemed happily settled too, and my parents and sister had both been married since they were teenagers – I didn’t know how to admit to them marriage wasn’t quite what I’d hoped for. I told myself was just being naïve, expecting everything to be perfect.
But things continued to change. I would lay awake at night and wonder about leaving –where would I live? We owned a beautiful house together and I hadn’t rented in years.
….However, I was amazed when, the year my friends and I all turned thirty, a wave of break-ups began.
One day my friend Michelle emailed us to say she was leaving her husband of five years, and that things had not been right for years.
…We struggled on, but then just a few weeks after Michelle’s revelation, our friend Cathy called off her wedding. One day they were looking at venues for an elaborate celebration, then the next it was over and she’d moved out of their house. I felt stunned. It seemed as if the break-ups sent seismic waves through our friendship group. Suddenly, couples were having to face the fact that maybe they weren’t that happy, either.
….With one in particular, I remember being at lunch together, ready for me to tell her my news when she blurted out, ‘So I’m getting divorced.’ She’d been with her husband for ten years and I had no idea anything was wrong. All I could think to say was, ‘Um…me too.’
My biggest surprise was how easy it is to hide an unhappy marriage from your friends. I had no idea they were on the brink of a split, and they didn’t know I was.
…Over the following year, while I was moving all my things out and trying to start my life again, four other friends had big break-ups, like a divorce domino effect. We were all in our early to mid-thirties, without children, and had been married or in serious relationships since our twenties. In most cases the splits happened because people grew apart and changed, started wanting different things from life.
…I’m not sure if I would get married again. I would feel strange making those vows, knowing how impossible it is to promise things on behalf of your future self. I wish we had thought about that more carefully before getting married, and that I’d been clearer about what I wanted from life instead of just trying to support him.