My Parents’ Divorce and Me
Diane: This week I have asked my daughter, Alexandra Kondos, to be the guest blogger. I thought it would be interesting to hear about the impact of divorce from an adult child of divorce.
We were at a hospital (the same hospital where my parents were working when they first met) visiting a sick family member, an employee there recognized my name and gushes to me “I remember your parents’ courtship, what a fairytale! And when they married I was overjoyed for them, how perfect!” I guess she was over a decade behind on the gossip because I got to break the news to her.
There’s a home video my parents recorded the night before my little sister was born. They are so tender to each other, standing in the house they bought together, giddy and nervous to welcome their new child into the world and so proud of the family they were building together. By her first birthday my parents no longer lived under the same roof.
My partner and I had been together for a few years, one evening we were cuddling after a wonderful date and I said, “Isn’t it weird to think that once my parents loved each other this much?” He couldn’t understand why I would say something so horrifying, but I couldn’t understand why it seemed so inappropriate to him.
Even if both your parents remarry partners they remain happy with for years, even if your grandparents or your aunts and uncles provide wonderful examples of what marriage can be, you know there’s an alternate reality. As my partner and I have experiences together and reach many of the same life and relationship milestones that my parents did, I know that none of these cement our lives in a permanent fashion. And while this doesn’t make these moments any less special this is always at the back of your mind, and I wonder sometimes if it changes or goes away when you reach milestones in your relationship that your parents never did.
At the same time when your peers say things like “Divorce isn’t an option in this family” or “I don’t know what I would do without him, I’d probably die,” you know neither one of these are true. Even if it isn’t an option you or your spouse ever choose or even ever talk about, divorce is always an option. While divorce is the death of many things it isn’t the death of a person. Your life goes on, and no matter how painful the circumstances, you’ve watched your parents carry on with their lives.
Long before you have your first romantic relationship you know it is possible for a marriage to reach a point that no platitude, no Bible verse, no Pinterest-perfect ‘Happily Ever After’ can save it. You want so badly to see your partner as the person you’ll be growing old with, but you know there’s a chance your partner will become the person you meet in a grocery store parking lot every other Friday to exchange the kids for the weekend.
Your parents and the choices they make shape you as a person. My parents’ divorce is no exception. I can’t say it has made me a better or worse partner, but it has made me more cautious, more realistic and more conscious of how I handle conflict in my relationship. I am my mother’s child, I am my father’s child. Their mistakes are mine to learn from, but I know they don’t have to be mine to repeat.