This is a great post for those having a hard time coping with divorce:
Why is it that human nature causes us to forget a lot of bad stuff in our past? It’s like we put up this protective shield to avoid what we are too afraid to face. We would rather remember the good times, the early years, when our relationship and marriage was blissful. When the kids were born…When she looked at me like she really, really loved me and couldn’t keep her hands off me. When he used to walk in the door and kiss me every night after work. When I felt like she respected me, looked up to me, thought I was amazing. When he cherished me, made me feel special and beautiful and important. Those are the memories we hold onto.
It makes sense. Why would anyone want to remember the hideousness that went on at the end of a marriage? It’s just too painful. It can be horrifying, embarrassing, infuriating. The time she got those texts in the middle of the night that I ignored. How he started having a few beers after work every night and became aggressive and angry at times. When we fought and didn’t speak for a week. Those are the memories that people going through a divorce who don’t want it block out. They rationalize that all those behaviors were fine, and that they can’t believe their ex isn’t willing to focus on the good stuff and forget those things like they have.
Additionally, a lot of men and women don’t want to face the fact that their marriage was a wreck because it’s easier to believe “I didn’t really think anything was wrong and when my ex said he/she wanted a divorce it was shocking.” This way, the person doesn’t have to take accountability, or even think that there were things he or she could have done differently. Let’s be honest. It’s way easier to stay together. Divorce is huge. It takes over your life. But as time goes by, people begin to realize that the past wasn’t so great. In fact, as Dr. Baruch Halevi writes about in his guest post, “it sucked!”
The Good Old Days – Sucked! by Baruch Halevi
“Back in my day….”
Whenever I heard this phrase as a rabbi, or it’s sister phrase, “the good old days,” I would run and hide. Why? Because it always and only meant one thing – I said something or did something that pissed off a congregant over the age of eighty.
What always came next was how the old rabbi was smarter, the synagogue used to be better, the people were nicer, society was kinder, life was easier….cue Judy Garland singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” And invariably the takeaway was that I stink. All young whippersnappers everywhere stink and our world today pretty much stinks.
What I’m wondering is, why is it that we always seem to have selective memories about the past? This concept is especially noteworthy on the topic of divorce. Why do some men and women going through a divorce have it stuck in their head that the best part of their lives was during the time when they were married, and that that time has passed?
A teacher of mine, a religious Jew, was once struggling with this issue. He was newly divorced and feeling guilty that he didn’t remain in his loveless marriage, at least for his children, for his family, and for his community. ‘What kind of religious person gets divorced?’ was his mindset.
Wallowing in his guilt, he went to his rabbi who was from the old country, having grown up in Eastern Europe in a village where certainly things were very different. You didn’t do many things there, and you definitely didn’t get divorced!
He wasn’t really looking for an answer from his rabbi, but rather wanted to fulfill some masochistic need to be chastised for getting divorced. That is why he was shocked by what this old, pious rabbi had to say.
In broken English, with a thick Yiddish accent, the rabbi said, “Rubbish! You think couples were better off in the village? They were stuck in loveless marriages. They often hated one another passionately. Families and friends and communities equally had to pay the price in a “till death do us part” society. Get over your guilt. Enjoy your new lease on life. Getting married is a mitzvah (divine commandment) and so is divorce. It’s holy so get on with it and get on with your life”
My friends, don’t spend your time grieving something that deep down you know wasn’t right. Be honest with yourself. It never was as good as it seemed. Don’t beat yourself up for getting divorced. Just make it worth it. Learn your lessons and get out there and find what you are looking for. Love again. Marry again. Enjoy life again. Live fully and fiercely and never look back. In the words of Billy Joel, “the good ole days weren’t always good. And tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems.”
Rabbi Dr. Baruch Halevi is a regular contributor for Divorced Girl Smiling and Divorced Guy Grinning. A Relationship & Life Coach, Halevi is also a motivational speaker and inspirational author.