Why divorce hurts so much?
To understand why divorce hurts so much it’s important to consider how you arrived at your current situation. I don't mean by that the fights that ultimately forced you or your partner to make the decision that continuing was too hard. Rather I mean consider the thoughts that went into you finally deciding to marry.
Remember when you first met your ex?
Remember this was the person that you thought complimented you, this was someone that completed you. That special person that supposedly knew you, trusted and accepted you. Someone that was kind, caring, funny, honest. Someone that would be there to watch you grow old.
Someone that would one day give birth to your children and then work together with you to raise them into adults that you could be proud to tell others, "See that boy, he's my son the doctor", or how about, "You know Ian, my boy, he just released a new book on psychology. I am so proud of him!".
When you got engaged and told people they congratulated you. It was as if you had somehow been nominated to be accepted into this special club called "marriage". Remember?
Everyone was happy for you. Well, almost everyone. And for all those that didn't congratulate you, well you probably thought, "screw them".
You might have had an engagement party and invited friends, family, relatives. And all along everyone is congratulating you, telling you that you and your partner were made for each other.
Later, you got married in a very public ceremony.
You took time off from working to have a Honeymoon where you and your sweet heart rode off into the sunset alone to enjoy the exquisite fun filled holiday filled with care-free walks along the beach where you ate, slept, made love and imagined that time would stand still forever like this.
Reality check, now here you are and suddenly your world is falling apart. You can't assemble a coherent thought without thinking about your ex. Every other sentence almost makes reference to her. You question your ability to make decisions and wonder what if your life with your ex was a lie and what was real.
You see, divorce is not like the breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend. Yes, breakups with a boyfriend or girlfriend are heartbreaking, but marriage is a leap of faith into the future.
I don't care how cynical someone is when they marry, the need for love and being with someone special is woven into our consciousness from our first days on this planet.
Marriage is or rather was supposed to be our protector from being alone in society. Marriage was supposed to provide us with a ready made partner for any social occasion, someone to share our bed, someone to share our most intimate and private moments.
Marriage was supposed to announce publicly to anyone that would listen, here is my partner, she will protect me, comfort me, stand by me against anyone that dare intrude into our partnership.
Now it’s over and you are rudely reminded of this daily, hourly. Everything around you seems in some way to remind you that you have been suspended from the marriage club.
Divorce is a public statement. It's a statement that is loaded with as much or even more baggage as marriage ever did. Even in today's society where half of all marriages fail the pain is not any less given that it almost considered "normal".
An additional reason that divorce hurts is the suddenness with which things fall apart.
Courtship often takes weeks, months or sometimes years. But breakups happen very quickly. It only takes one person to decide to opt out and its over. Contrast the careful planning that went into choosing gifts when you got married, the time spent choosing somewhere to live. Joint decisions that took months to make are all suddenly cast aside as one person flees the marriage.
The abrupt nature of the marriage ending leaves little time for you to get used to the idea. All of a sudden the person to whom you expected to share the rest of your life with is gone. You are abandoned from a situation that you could no longer tolerate.
I remember taking almost three weeks to tell anyone that my marriage had ended. In fact during that three weeks I secretly hoped that I was either having a nightmare or that somehow it was all some huge misunderstanding and everything would work-out.
So much of my language had changed during the years we had been together. I had to catch myself from saying, "we". I had to re-learn to say, "I". When you are thrown out of the married club you have to learn to speak singles speak again.
For me that was an additionally painful insult to the otherwise hopeless situation I now found myself in.
Hopefully, now you will begin to understand "why" divorce hurts so much and "why" its normal even if it was a short marriage.