When I was 14, my parents decided to divorce after 26 years of marriage. This wasn’t really a surprise to me, and I was too involved in my own teenage drama to think about it too much in the moment. As I got older and started to date, though, I realized I may never want marriage. Why bother ‘pretending’ to commit until I was too bored, right? Many of us grew up in single-family households and/or with divorced parents. It's likely something that defined our relationship with our parents, our lifestyle, and importantly, how we view marriage. Marriage can seem scary when our main model for it didn't work. Today, I couldn't be happier that I worked through my feelings about marriage and am happily 5 years married.
Divorce is not hereditary, but it can play a role in you considering life-long commitment with your partner; here’s 3 ways to combat that feeling:
- Therapy! Sure, divorce is 'common' but don't use that to dismiss the personal challenges you faced because of your experience. It's so important to process your past experiences so you can be mentally prepared for your future experiences.
- Communication. My husband’s parents are still together so he doesn’t have experiences that relate to mine in the divorce department. That hasn’t stopped him from being an empathetic listener and advice-giver over the years. Your partner should feel like a safe space for your full self. Communicating about influential experiences in your life, good or bad, should be a regular part of your relationship.
- Growth. There's a general concept that parents want their children to be better off than they were. That could be in reference to things like education, financial security, and family. Hopefully we were lucky enough that our parents did their personal best raising us, but that doesn't mean we can't reflect back and grow based on our experiences as kids. Someone recently told me that she has distinct memories of her parents talking over each other constantly, and she would watch this and see them get increasingly frustrated with each other. In this case, they actually divorced. Now in a committed relationship herself, this person told me that she is keenly aware of giving her partner space to communicate without interrupting them. Even though she's not perfect, she knows what she's striving for when communicating.
What I love about Seven Circles is it helps unearth experiences and patterns from growing up that can really impact who we are together. Without acknowledging these things, it's really hard to grow and stay committed in a healthy way. Take it from me, these realizations are so important for your own health and the health of your relationship!
Author: Jordyn is the Director of Community Education for SHALVA. She oversees all things Seven Circles. Jordyn has been with her partner for 10+ years, even though he hates cats.