After the Seven Year Itch:: Staying Married While Friends Divorce

Eight to twelve years ago, my life was a bridal blur.

My older sister was the first of my close friends to get married. From then on, engagement parties, bridal showers, dress fittings and ultimately, the rehearsal and the “big day” were part of my social calendar every year.

It went on for a few years, and then it was my turn. Then, it went on for a few more years after that.

It was all so special, eight to twelve years ago, a magical time to fuss over and show up for my nearest and dearest, and have them show up for me on my day. A beautiful time full of love, regardless of the ultimate ‘success’ of the union.

After the Seven Year Itch:: Staying Married While Friends Divorce
Bridal Bliss… but can it last?

Within a few years, a few married couples we knew called it quits.

Sometimes, it was only a matter of time, if you know what I mean. 

But other times, it was sad, it seemed out of nowhere, and we were thankful there weren’t any children yet to involve. 

And then, everyone who had stuck it out those first few years started to have kids. And I think we all got lulled into a quiet sense of “phew! We made it.” Suddenly those early divorces felt like a one-off and that the statistics would certainly be defied by ourselves and the people close to us.

But now, we’ve hit this patch where it’s starting to happen again. Most of my peers have children who are elementary school aged, and all around me a lot of people I know are splitting up with their spouses {or coming darn close}.

A few of my good girlfriends are now single moms, or about to be; picking up pieces from relationships they’d invested a decade {or more} into and navigating a different world than the one we were last single in {with a strength and resiliency that is awe inspiring, may I add}. 

I’m not going to lie, it’s doing something to me. 

After the Seven Year Itch:: Staying Married While Friends Divorce

I feel secure in my marriage, but there’s that tiny voice nagging at me.

“You should be doing XYZ differently if you want to keep your marriage.”

Keep my marriage…what? Spicy? Sexy? Solid?

If there was a magic formula for keeping every marriage all of those things, wouldn’t most of us choose it? Yet I know, from my own marriage and those around mine, it’s not always a choice. Sometimes forces greater than ourselves come into play:: addiction, for example. Mental illness. Infidelity. Financial woes. Boredom.

Maybe one of you changed in a way so profound that the other couldn’t accept it nor catch up. Maybe neither of you were willing to try. Maybe only one of you was. 

As secure as my marriage is, none of these scenarios seem that “out there”. For mine, or any marriage. And that scares me.

Divorce is sad, but it’s not a failure, and it doesn’t mean you failed. Not every marriage is meant to last forever. I personally feel that the people I know who chose the wrong person the first time around did a lovely job the second {or third} time with the right one!

As a romantic, I believe everyone who wants love in their life should have it. And not just any old partner, but one who fulfills and excites you. One who you love, who loves you back, in healthy ways.

Image credit Victoria Erickson on Facebook

I prefer to think of divorce as an act of hope, for those who find themselves in the position: hope that something in the future will be better than today.

But I also think hope is exactly what I need to navigate this season of supporting the newly-split members of my network. Hope for their futures. And also…

Hope in my very own marriage. Hope that we won’t fall victim to those fifty/fifty odds, hope that our vows actually mean forever. 

A wise woman {ok, it was my mom} once said that no one would ever walk down the aisle on their wedding day if they didn’t have stars in their eyes. She meant, no one ever expects their marriage to end in divorce.

Even though logically we all know our odds are as good {or as bad} as anyone’s. 

So maybe, eight to twelve years after we say “I do”, we all need to seek a little bit of that starry-eyed hope we felt about marriage on our wedding days.

To accept our partner, the good, the bad, the ugly, for better AND worse {and boredom and sex droughts and sleepless nights with the kids and potty training and money problems and sick parents and all the messiness of LIFE}. 

Sometimes hope does look like knowing when to let go.

But also, sometimes? It looks like holding on, even tighter now, now that the fragility of marriage and family and LIFE feels more precious than ever before. 

Still…us.

There is no way to divorce-proof a marriage. But for me, I’m just going to keep showing up for my partner and our marriage, being present, listening, and seeking connection. Looking for signs of love and life in the small things. Loving, forgiving, accepting that forever sometimes feels like a loooonnnnggg time.

But I’m still hopeful it will be us, forever. 

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Mary B. is a lifelong creative, dreamer, and joy seeker. Born and raised in northern Illinois, Mary attended the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, receiving her B.F.A. in acting, then worked as a sometimes actress/model, sometimes waitress. Mary and her husband got married in Sept 2012, welcomed a son in 2014, moved to Texas from Chicago in 2016, and welcomed a daughter in 2017, completing their family. She self-publishes her musings on marriage, motherhood, and life on her blog, Accidentally Texan,. In her free time {free time--ha!} Mary loves to read, cook {and eat ;)}, work out, swim, travel, and spend time with her family. Mary believes emotional connection is the root of humanity and our collective purpose in life.

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