I have a friend who has been divorced for 8 or 9 years now. He and his ex-wife have a pretty remarkable relationship — they still spend holidays together with their daughter, they went on college -visiting trips together as a family, and they have actively supported each other through their respective family crises.
This weekend, this friend explained to me that, for them, divorce was like a divine mercy — the last act of mutual kindness they paid to their marriage, ending it before the pain became too great to bear. A kind of marriage euthanasia, if you will. Rather than wait until it the cancer of betrayal and deceit completely gutted their respect and concern for each other, they ended their marriage when some modicum of decency still existed, to be nurtured and built upon, to provide the basis of a a new relationship of mutual respect and caring.
I had never heard divorce described with such tenderness before, and it made me ponder yet again why we have turned divorce into such a nasty, vindictive, painful industry. Why have we accepted all of that vitriol and jealousy and nastiness as “normal”? Why do we expect people to behave more maturely when breaking up a simple dating relationship than we do a marriage? Doesn’t a marriage deserve even more mutual tenderness and understanding and compassion? Shouldn’t we demand from ourselves, and each other, better than this? Why should any marriage be battered, burned, and bruised until it is no longer recognizable? Aren’t most marriages worth more than that?
I think that divorce is likely often a “divine mercy.” And, really, when it’s all falling apart around us, and in our hearts we know it can’t be rebuilt, don’t we owe each other that much?