When divorce is not the answer

Is divorce the answer? It probably depends on the question, but if the question is, will divorce make me happier, then the answer is, maybe not.

A feature in yesterday’s Irish Independent dealt with the aftermath of divorce and quoted marriage counsellor, Sian Blore, who was an oasis of common sense.

She points out that people today believe they have a right to be happy at all times. She points out that the failure rate for second and third marriages is higher than for first marriages. She speaks of the unrealistic expectations women have for life after divorce.

She’s worth quoting in full: “There’s a real sense we must be happy at all times. We look for a partner to fulfil us but at the first sign of boredom or danger, we cut and run. We all need to grow up a bit. You shouldn’t look for perfection in a person, happiness is a bonus, not a necessity and you have to know despair to appreciate the good times.”

The article cites a UK study which shows that 20pc of people who get divorced regret their decision inside the first year, and they’re probably the honest ones.

Blore continues: “When a marriage is in trouble, women think leaving is the only thing to do. But that’s not necessarily the case. Statistically, second and third marriages are more likely to fail because you bring disappointment, failure, guilt, and children to your next relationship. I’m amazed anymore survives it. Women also have high expectations of life after divorce.”

Women initiate about two-thirds of divorces.

Blore concludes: “They [women] viewed it as a freedom and for a while it was. Then the reality sets in; the struggle to pay bills, the nights in alone or at dinner parties where a woman alone is seen as a spare part or a threat, which is not fun at all.”

The article then quotes ‘Lynn’ who is herself divorced. Lynn is especially frank about the effects on her children.

She says: “While my life has been totally transformed in the past year, it has also been difficult. The most terrible, upsetting part was the effect on the children.

“When we separated, my eldest daughter went through a period of anxiety, she was clinging to me, she’d virtually follow me to the toilet, as if she feared I’d disappear completely. My middle daughter blames me totally; when I’m in the family home she says, ‘you’re not wanted here, I don’t want to live with you, I want to live with my dad’.

“I did have a great rush of freedom. But of course there are lonely nights where you sit in your apartment crying. Friends of mine who are also separated agree, the loneliness is hard to get used to.”

Incidentally, feminist writer Fay Weldon had a few damning things to say in The Sunday Times the other day about how people are completely ruthless in their pursuit of personal happiness.

According to the paper, Weldon believes “we are hypocrites who pretend to love our children but ruthlessly do our own thing, regardless of their welfare.”

This reminds me of the title of a recent book by legal scholar David Tubbs the title of which is ‘Freedom’s Orphans’. The ‘orphans’ in question are the children who have been ‘orphaned’ by the way liberal societies encourage adults to pursue personal freedom at all costs.

These are the facts of life that should be included in school Relationships and Sexuality Education courses.