A recent poll in Britain shows that even divorcees feel that getting divorced is too easy.
Maybe it's because I'm an American, but I beg to differ.
I've been through two divorces, and while the first was relatively simple because I signed a pre-nuptial agreement, neither experience could be described as easy. Heart and gut wrenching was more like it. Saying goodbye to all that could and should have been was incredibly anguishing.
Yes, having signed a prenup made the logistics of uncoupling with my first husband a cakewalk compared to the long and arduous divorce with my second husband, but both were emotionally draining. The prenup only obviated the need to discuss who gets which couch and who gets which stocks. And given that I didn't have children from either of those unions, the difficulty of those divorces paled in comparison to what my friends with kids experienced when their marriages ended. For many, it was the most tortuous period of their adult lives. One of my good friends and her ex chose to mediate rather than go broke from divorce lawyers, and it was still a grueling and lengthy process, full of tears and regrets.
Yet we all survived -- both my friends and myself. (I'm not here to complain or ask for sympathy.) And we are all happier for having extricated ourselves from those damaging relationships, no matter the short-term emotional and financial costs.
And those costs can be steep. Divorce lawyers like Fiona Wood, the lawyer quoted in The Telegraph, acknowledge that divorce is arduous and only undertaken after couples have done nearly everything they can to save their relationships. "My experience as a divorce lawyer is that the vast majority of those who divorce only do so after making great efforts to save their marriages," she told The Telegraph. No one walks out of a marriage unscathed. Not even a Kardashian. (And despite the fact that Kim Kardashian is now pregnant with Kanye West's child, her divorce from Kris Humphries is still not official as of this writing.)
Which begs the question: why did the respondents say they believe that divorce is too easy? If they were like the majority of couples who had tried to save their marriages and were unable, why would they characterize the divorce process as "too easy"? Wouldn't their experiences prove otherwise? Why would they assume that other divorcing couples are pursuing this course for anything other than the gravest of reasons, like infidelity or financial duress or a deep unhappiness?
Wood acknowledges that the fault might lie with the divorcing Hollywood elite. The tabloids are rife with stories of celeb pairs divorcing seemingly easily after three-month long marriages. Even though, as I've already indicated, not all celebrities exit their marriages quickly and easily. Perhaps those survey respondents weren't commenting on their own situations but what they perceived to be the reality for other divorcing couples. It is a classic case of, "Well, I'm not talking about me, of course, but about everyone else." It's natural to see your own private circumstances as individual and complicated, but to lump others into groups, situate them in trends, blame them for some sort of perceived societal malaise.
But let us not forget that before divorce was "easy," it was really, really hard. Back before the days of no-fault divorces, couples sometimes had to fake an affair just to get a judge to sign off on a divorce. Walking into court and saying that you simply grew apart or that you make one another miserable was not reason enough to end a marriage. Thank goodness those days are over.
Also, the financial independence of women today may be linked to greater numbers of divorces. Back in the "good ol' days," a woman couldn't get out of an abusive or even an unsatisfying relationship because she likely relied on her husband for financial support. But today, most women have the financial wherewithal to leave if that becomes necessary. I don't know about you, but I'd rather have more divorces than to return to a time where a woman had no control over her fate.
And while divorce may be traumatic for children, it cannot be worse than growing up in a home where their parents can barely contain their animosity towards one another. Also, let us consider the possible ramifications for children who are dragged through an even lengthier, more difficult divorce process. Already, it can get quite ugly for them. Would the respondents like to have more obstacles so that children can be even more traumatized by their parents' split?
Divorce, while a last resort, should remain an accessible tool in the relationship tool shed because sometimes you need to use it. After all, if I hadn't been able to extricate myself from my first two marriages, I wouldn't have found myself in my present situation -- married for fourteen years to a man who is the father of my three children.