She spoke dismissively of his “failed marriage.”
Ugh. Bite your tongue, I told myself. The lecture will fall on deaf ears. It’s a free country. Blah, blah, blah.
I still had to count to 20 before I spoke.
My problem? I take issue with the term “failed marriage.”
Seems to me, any marriage that ends in divorce is now called a failure.
By whose standards is that a universal truth?
I know. We stood at the altar, or under the chuppah or in the garden and said “till death do us part.” Most of us put some serious thought into those words before we say them. And for some of us, it did not work out. But it was not a failure.
Why a failure? Because we bared our soul, shared a bed, argued, complained, laughed, bitched and cried but in the end—didn’t stay together?
My question is—did you learn anything? If you did, if you bring that learning forward into your life and the lives of others you touch and love—then, please point out to me the failure. Some of us call that growing up. Painful, to be sure, but that’s how most of us learn the hard lessons.
Did you know that ferns are among the first plants to begin to grow again after a forest fire? They do so because they grip the soil with a vast network of roots. They withstand the devastation and live to grow again, stronger.
Some of us leave marriages due to extenuating circumstances. Some because we grow beyond our relationship and the other person wants to remain where they began. Either way, I can tell you that anyone who has divorced can relate to the forest fire analogy. But some of us are more like ferns; we make new lives out of the wreckage, building upon strong roots some of us may not even have known we had.
Why a relationship ends is really no one’s business but our own. And to call a marriage a failure because it did not stand the “forever” test—that’s not our brightest moment. If you can remain married and grow together, I applaud you. Many people do. But, you only have control over one side of that equation. As a society, we seem to get pejorative over partings, which are sometimes truer and more honest than continuing the semblance of a relationship long gone.
I know people whose marriages have technically ended but I consider their previous union anything but “failed”. It was a necessary step in their own growth. And I could point to at least a dozen marriages that continue in the strictest sense of the word but have true failure written all over them—due to a lack of growth, communication, love, tenderness, understanding.
We are human. Not omniscient. Not always wise. At times unreasonable.
If we accept those foibles and others, we leave plenty of room for “failure.”
Otherwise known as growth, failure’s still painful but much more progressive alter ego. Which sure beats stagnation.