For people who’ve experienced a marital split (or perhaps more than one), the words “virtue” and “divorce” typically don’t go together.
Even judges and family lawyers, whose livelihoods derive partly from the fact that the pledge “till death do us part” is ultimately unfulfilled about 50% of the time, will be the first to say that divorce – even when it’s unavoidable — isn’t something to necessarily look forward to. Even the most amicable divorces can have their challenges, and the transition from married life to life after divorce can be stressful; even traumatic.
However, Forbes’ science, technology and culture writer David DiSalvo has penned a piece that boldly goes where few articles on divorce have gone before: calling out the seven virtues of divorce. According to DiSalvo, they are (in order):
1. Divorce can defeat intertia. Marriages – or, more specifically, the spouses within a marriage – can start to lose their creative energy and enter into a long, dreary episode of stagnation. DiSalvo says that divorce can spark a “creative destruction” that both spouses need to recapture their vitality and refresh their lives; even it means that those lives are separate, instead of shared.
2. Divorce is sometimes the (painful) truth. Many people struggle for years to live up to the promise of “till death to us part” – a standard that DiSalvo says is, for some couples, delusional. And while he notes that divorce is a pretty extreme way to end that delusion, he suggests that in some marriages it’s the only way to accept what’s really going on in a relationship: that it’s not working, and the lofty ideals aren’t (can’t and won’t) be met.
3. Divorce can spark individual growth. While compromise and sacrifice are characteristics of any successful marriage, in some scenarios they can lead to neglected potential for individual growth. DiSalvo notes how astonishing it is to see ex’s grow in healthy, creative ways that were (evidently) impossible for either of them as a married couple.
4. Divorce can be healthy. While ending a marriage is viewed by many as a last resort, and an indication of failure, DiSalvo suggests another view. He argues that divorce can actually be the healthy alternative to an unhappy marriage — and he means that literally: in some cases, hypertension, anxiety, sleep disorders and other ailments can be traced back to marriage problems.
5. Divorce can be good for kids. Perhaps DiSalvo’s boldest assertion is that, in some cases, divorce can strengthen the bond between parents and their children. And while, all else being equal, kids benefit a stable two-parent family more than a co-parent or one-parent family, that’s the rub: “all else being equal” just isn’t the day-to-day reality in many families who are going through tough times.
6. Divorce can lead to reflection. Sometimes, one has to lose something before they can take a step back and evaluate the role it played in their life – and, sometimes more painfully (yet valuably), how they handled or mishandled the experience. DiSalvo says that the looming possibility of divorce can sometimes be enough for couples to introspect, reflect and make changes.
7. Divorce is an existential reminder. And to end on a philosophical note, DiSalvo notes that divorce is a reminder of the Zen principle that “all that rises, passes away.” As such, he encourages spouses to make the most of their trips around the sun while they can – ideally, together, but if necessary, apart.
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