Fear of failure and public opinion is creating a negative mindset. To change the impact of divorce on families today (and for future generations) we need to change the stigma.
Divorce is on the rise, in 2020 alone there were over 100,000 divorces with unreasonable behaviour often cited as the cause. And the statistics for same-sex couples are on the rise too. Couples are supposedly becoming increasingly bitter - divorce videos have become a trend on TikTok, Divorce day has been determined as January 6th (a day when the most amount of divorces start up), and everyone knows the impact of Nora's monologue from Marriage Story on young couples. And when it comes to the reasons for divorce - everything is referenced from alcohol to domestic abuse to not making time for your partner, no wonder there is so much social stigma around this. And have you tried looking for any good news stories on divorce? There are none. There is a plethora of information about the pain, the battle, the shame, the social discrimination. But no positive stats, nothing to inspire or confront the stigma. And what about the impact on your children, this argument has been used against divorce for years. But it doesn't need to be like this.
We don't all need to get shown War of the Roses to put the fear of God into us. Divorce needs to be presented as a beginning, a route forward to change. The truth is an amicable divorce is less damaging for your and your children than an unhappy marriage. However, as emotionally intelligent, social creatures we are hardwired to believe this isn’t the case. Social acceptance is key to most human beings.. Years ago, divorce was a taboo - women had to give up everything, the church condemned you and a divorced woman was seen as fallen with a divorced man being someone we pity. Nowadays this isn’t the case, but divorce still has a huge impact on our mental health, how we feel about ourselves, the decisions we make and as a result what we achieve in our lives.
Therefore, the only way to change the impact of divorce on families today (and for future generations) is to change the stigma. We all need to rewrite the narrative, so that people who are suffering can have the courage to change their personal circumstances, empower their family and secure the help to succeed. Because, like it or not, exes are not going anywhere, and potential divorcees owe it to themselves and their children to take a leap. Interestingly, Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin have tried to do this with their ‘consciously uncoupling’ approach, but have been bitterly mocked on social media and within the press. And for what reason? Is it because it is different, unconventional, does not meet the narrative that marriage is good and divorce is bad? Or is it because we prefer to see the nasty side to divorce where two people’s lives are played out in public?Whatever it is, these adults have managed to remain friends for the sake of each other and their children and divorced well. It’s something we should admire. The damage done to children through an unhappy marriage can be felt for generations.
The truth is modern-day marriages are evolving. There are more social opportunities than there once were and traditional roles have changed, as a result expectations on relationships have been thrown up in the air. And for those who think by avoiding marriage they avoid divorce, this also applies to them - once you have children you face the same eternal stigmas as married couples.
So, society needs to step up but how do we make this happen?
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