“I’ve been thinking about divorce a lot lately.”
I could see the statement’s effect when my friend’s smile fell right off her face.
“No. No. Not me. ... I’m not thinking about divorce for me,” I stammer, realizing that it’s this exact scenario – the surprise factor - that I am turning over and over in my own mind.
Some friends of ours announced they are splitting up.
Outwardly they were the perfect couple. Well, maybe not perfect, but definitely not a pairing anyone would doom to failure. They just drifted apart.
They have three kids; one in high school, one in grammar school and one smack dab in the middle.
They have a nice house, a comfortable living and shared interests.
When you first find out your friends are considering separating, it is often a shock.
Aside from fleeting moments of frustration, they seemed happy.
Yet, they’ve drifted apart. There is unhappiness. There is tension. They want to try their lives separately.
Isn’t it natural to look at yourself in this mirror of friendship?
‘We seem happy.’
‘We have stress and tension and a tendency to meander into solitude.’
‘We have arguments about everything … and nothing.
‘Is it only a matter of time?’
‘Could this be us one day?’
You shake your head. ‘No. Not us. This is not going to happen to us. We are different.’
‘We love each other.’
‘We can work it out.’
‘Our frustrations are fleeting.’
‘There’s too much at stake.’
Yet, somehow, it’s already happened to us.
It’s our circle – our community -- that’s getting broken up, too. The guys we play cards with and the women with whom we swap recipes. The divide happens there, as well.
We look at each other and try and tease out a turning point; a place where the road started to get bumpy -- the kids, the job, the familiarity? Nothing we could change really, except in our attitude.
And who’s got the patience for that? Not her. Not him. What about you?
There will be anger and resentment for a while. Somebody will be the ‘bad guy’ until it’s the other person’s turn. The circle of friends twittering on about news and details will result in its rings expanding as if in a pond.
No matter how much you think you can remain neutral you can’t. Eventually you find yourself on one side or another.
My husband’s been down this road before with his parents. They split up when he was young. He understands what it means for the kids. I can’t only imagine. My parents are still together. Both of us want to be supportive.
But there’s only so much we can do. We can offer our condolences, and our heartfelt sadness. We can offer an ear and a shoulder to lean on. We can offer a room for the night or a hundred nights. We can hope.
The story’s not entirely finished -- there will be an attempt at reconciliation; there will be counseling, there will be efforts to address the problems as they become defined.
It’s not over. There is hope.