When Starting Over is a Good Thing

I grew up in the Austrian countryside in the 1980s. People were less open minded at the time - even more so in the small alpine villages. The biggest crime you committed as a woman was being a divorcee. Something must be wrong with her. She must have neglected her marital duties - either in the kitchen or another room. It was never questioned what was wrong with the guy and that he may have been at fault. Divorce was always seen as a failure.

Why is it that society at large pities divorced people (mainly women)? Why is it that we see divorce as something negative. I once sat next to two sisters who were both in their 50s. One was married to the same man for the last thirty years. The other was on her second marriage. The latter told the other one commenting on her upcoming wedding anniversary: "I admire you for being married to the same man for that long." She sounded sad while she said that - and her second husband was sitting next to her. I thought to myself 'Didn't she just indirectly tell her husband that she wish she was still married to the first guy just for the sake of being able to say that she made the marriage work?' Husband #2 ignored her comment.

Why does it matter to be married to the same guy for the rest of your life? It doesn't seem to matter whether it was a happy marriage or not. It was all about keeping up appearances for 'them'. Older generations often tell the younger generation that in the old days people didn't give up on each other that easily and worked on their marriage. I think this was out of necessity not because they loved each other more back then or valued marriage more. Women were not allowed to work or only worked in low paying jobs. People in general were more religious and divorced people became outcasts in their community. This had nothing to do with family values. This was all about survival.

When I was in my late 20s, I was getting divorced. Luckily, I was living in a big city by that time and thoroughly enjoyed the anonymity and lack of small-town-judgement. In the city, it was more common to get divorced and it was also more accepted. Did I feel like I failed in my marriage? Not for a second! To me, getting a divorce was liberating. I was freed from a relationship that had no love left on either side. I was so happy that it was over! I had a divorce party. I attended friends' divorce parties. I had a great time following our separation. I was finally happy again. I suddenly had to answer to no one anymore and it was fantastic.


Every once in a while I would get the 'I'm so sorry you are getting divorced' but I always told those people, 'Don't be! Best decision I ever made!' And now, ten years later, I am on my second marriage - a much happier, more equal and more loving marriage. To this day, I don't feel ashamed for being divorced. I don't feel like a failure. In the end, what good does it do when you can tell 'them' you are still married to the same first husband and then you go home and you feel more lonely sitting next to someone who doesn't love you as if you were single. And what's the point of going through all these attempts to save a marriage that cannot be saved? If you need to convince someone to stay with you, the relationship is already over. The main positive aspect that comes out of divorce is - at least it was for me - that once the marriage was over, I had hope for a better relationship in the future. If I had stayed with my first husband, I would have had to accept that nothing was ever going to change. And in my case, my hope for a better relationship became true.


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