Failure’s alter ego

Fern showing sori
Fern showing sori (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.



21 Comments Add yours

  1. dpualumni45 says:

    Reblogged this on I LOVE MY DISEASE! and commented:
    Reblogged from Cadidkay…
    Excellent piece…life changing. This is how I live my life.

  2. dpualumni45 says:

    I love the way you put this…This is how I live my life…Forward is the only motion. This piece is a MUST share! Awesome!

  3. lunachik4 says:

    beautifully said. nothing ever really dies. forever ferns ~

  4. ghostinthewalls says:

    Love this. (!)

  5. Love the thoughts here – this piece is rich with inspiration. It always strikes me how powerful perception is. Just by choosing a different viewpoint a period in our lives can go from worthless to invaluable.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you for the kind words. The concept so easy to grasp intellectually–we can choose how we perceive–and so hard to play out sometimes in day to day living . . . takes vigilance.

  6. Reblogged this on beautifullytogether and commented:
    Great article by Candidkay on taking a perspective of growth and learning from ending/evolving relationships!

  7. I really enjoyed reading this. It’s a wonderful message, and offers a positive point of view for those who are co-parenting post divorce, grieving the end of a relationship, or are even presently in a happy, fulfilling relationship. 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you for the kind words–and for the reblog! I appreciate it.

  8. words4jp says:

    very well written:)

  9. Ann Nadia Tye says:

    So very well said

  10. Lee says:

    Oh I so agree with you. I hate it when people use tht word. And after 28 years of marriage I did not consider my marriage “failed” – it was just ended. When I look at the two beautiful smart young women we produced and raised together…how can that be considered failure?! Love your fern analogy too…in Australia the regrowth after bushfires is vivid and swift and just stunning.

    1. candidkay says:

      I hope my own regrowth is swift and stunning, Lee! Twenty-eight years of learning could never be considered a failure–especially not when two lovely human beings came out of it:).

  11. Having always said that life doesn’t come with a manual – we all do the best we can – I agree the term “failure” is inappropriate. My parents marriage ended because they came from different planets, my sisters because her husband decided he was a woman and had a sex change, my brother because his wife cheated. None of these examples are failures – simply reasons people decided to go their separate ways 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      Wow. That’s a cornucopia of reasons right there. But sure does speak to my point . . .

  12. I endorse what you say. Divorce and separation are nearly always difficult, sometimes traumatic, sometimes damaging. And sometimes necessary. It is HOW the challenge of breaking up is dealt with, not the fact of the separation. I was a mother of two sons , 7 and 9 when I separated 10 years ago. My ex and I worked hard to maintain a stable and understanding background. We did it. We have two wonderful, well adjusted sons, and we have lives that are richer than had we stayed together. we are better apart, we have developed differently than had we stayed together. It takes understanding and love to separate well. I am very lucky we both had enough.

    1. candidkay says:

      It sounds like you gave your sons a window into a healthier relationship than had you stayed together also. That takes courage. I know so many people who stay together for the kids, only to have the kids more scarred than if they’d each gone their own way and been happy. Our kids, I think, are always smarter than we think.

  13. wapitinono says:

    definitely you’re right. all husband and wife are having troublesome and misunderstanding. But once you accept your differences its easier to express love and the fruit of acceptance for the sake of love are the best fruit of all.

  14. Jessica Slavin says:

    Reblogged this on jessicaslavin.

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