Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Seal and Heidi: An Example of What I Think Is Wrong

Let me state a few things up front.

1.  The relationship between Seal and Heidi Klum is absolutely none of business and, in the grand scheme of things, doesn't impact my life.

2.  I obviously do not know these people personally and none of the opinions I am about to share is designed to imply otherwise.

3.  I know that there are absolutely situations where divorce is the only choice, the best choice.  I'm not wearing blinders and I'm not one to say that my way is the only way.  I'm not one to live in absolutes, either, and I very realistically know that divorce is a real thing with a real purpose.

I've made it pretty clear how I feel about the issue of divorce in our society.  I've also shared why it's important to me- because of what divorce does to kids.

I've been honest that I have a divorce behind me.  I've also stated that I know that divorce is truly sometimes the best option.

When I saw this interview with Seal on Ellen... I got pretty ticked off.

After 8 years and 4 kids and 2 big careers... they've grown apart and they still love each other deeply but...

Even Seal and Heidi were shocked?  They weren't expecting the divorce attorneys to show up at their door?  They got selected in the Hollywood Breakup Lottery?

He said... when you become a parent, you do the best that you can... but how are they doing the best that they can when they are calling it quits after just 8 years and "growing apart?"

Obviously I'm not truly concerned about Heidi or Seal.  But I think that his statements are an exact example of the general idea that our society holds about divorce.  It wasn't fun anymore... we grew apart... I wasn't happy or fulfilled...

The gossip is that Seal has a temper problem and Heidi filed for divorce because she felt the environment wasn't the best example for her kids.  I fully understand that.  I support that.  I don't know that filing for divorce is the first response- but separation and requirements for change and help would be on my list.

But taking just Seal's statement... just his words...

That breaks my heart.  It kills this little piece of me that divorce is something so easy to turn to and so easy to obtain and taken so lightly.  The thing about Seal's words in this interview is that I have heard similar things 100 times over in conversations and on message boards and on talk shows.  What Seal said could be said by any number of people I'm connected to in my everyday suburban life.  And that leaves me feeling sad and angry.

Remaining civil and connected for the kids?  Pshaw.  If you really want to put your kids first, and given that the only issue in the marriage is truly that you've just grown apart or aren't personally happy, put your marriage first.

Everytime one of these Hollywood types rushes off into another engagement or another divorce is announced, I shake my head.  I say a little prayer.  And I wonder what exactly it is about marriage in this country that is so special that it "should only be between a man and a woman."  There is no sanctity of marriage in our society.  There is no respect for the vows taken on a wedding day.

I'm being emotional and dramatic- I know there are couples who take their vows seriously and are committed to each other through the good and bad, the highs and lows.  And when I say "couples," I mean gay and straight.

Some individuals "get it" and take it seriously.  I have deep respect when a friend turns to me and says that she knows this is about her and not just about him... that they have been broken for so long... but that she is willing to give it everything she has before it comes to an end.  I have admiration for a friend who says that he wants his focus to remain on what is best for his children and asks me to advocate for them when he vents to me about his ex.

Bottom line, for me, is simply this.  It doesn't matter if you are straight or gay.  When there are children involved in your marriage or your serious commitment to another person, those kids are part of the promises you make.  When you break the vows to your partner, you are breaking promises to your kids.  In all honesty, if there are no children, I probably don't really care so much.  I might roll my eyes at the headline.  I might be sad for my friend who is feeling heartbroken.  But there is a lot less damage incurred when children are not part of the family that is divorcing.

When my mom and dad got married, I was about 10 years old.  I was included in the ceremony.  My dad gave a special toast to me at the reception.  I've known people who propose to the child to whom they want to become a step-parent or adoptive parent.  I've seen where ceremonies include the kids being officially included in the formation of the bond in the wedding- not just becoming a married couple but becoming a family bound through marriage.

What if we did the same in our marriages prior to having kids?  I suppose the vows are supposed to cover that but maybe if we mindfully include in our vows that "I promise to stay connected to you when/if we face parenthood.  I vow to be a partner to you and to defend our marriage for the sake or the security of our children."

Marriage isn't "going steady."  It's not having a boyfriend or girlfriend.  It is intended to be a lifetime commitment founded in love and mutual respect to another person.  At some point, society needs to place a lot more value on that intention.



Alison said...

Some argue that marriage is, biologically speaking, an artificial construct; you could also say the same about the way we raise our kids today (going into daycare so early, etc.) So in the face of all that "unnaturalness," one had better be ready to work damn hard to keep a marriage together.

It's like they say; if you're not grown up enough to be fully yourself, you can't be ready to be fully with someone else. So get your sh*t together before you bond; don't expect that bond to "fix" you. And sure, you're gonna change over the years, but change with your partner; not just next to them.

I know that I had the whole idealized dream of happily-ever-after in my head as I grew up, but seeing my parents argue their way through a real marriage, and just growing up in general, I knew that wasn't the way it would happen. In fact, at some point I remember asking Miss Chef if she thought we weren't being totally open with each other b/c we don't argue more! She reminded me we'd had plenty of arguments in our early years. :) Now we just know and respect each others' priorities and "hot buttons."

Which is fortunate, since there's so much out there wanting to tear our marriage apart. Thanks again for being an ally. You took the words right out of my fingers.

Tara R. said...

My parents divorced when I was young, twice. I can truly say they probably should have never married in the first place, but separating was the best thing for everyone. Having said that, I agree. Too many couples call it quits just because marriage gets hard, or boring, or routine. It's too easy. It's a first option rather than a last one.

Shell said...

Oh girl, I so agree with you.

I don't buy the "growing apart" excuse. Marriage takes WORK. Everything else in our lives, we know we have to work at it to have it go well: our jobs, taking care of our houses, being healthy: well know it takes work. Yet, for some reason, there is the delusion that we shouldn't have to work at marriage. It makes me totally crazy.

I *do* think that divorce is the best option sometimes(like my own parents where there was abuse and addiction), but none of this we still love each other but grew apart nonsense.

AndreaV said...

I always root for the happy ending, even when I find the individuals of the couple annoying. So, I was a little sad and disappointed when I read about Seal and Heidi. I think the unfortunate thing about our society is that we are so caught up in that whole "romantic love" thing that when passion evolves into something more steady and less volatile, we thing that we have fallen out of love and it signals the end of our relationship. I can't tell you how many times in our 16 year relationship I have "fallen out of love" with my husband. We are not the most exciting and passionate couple on the block. Sometimes he truly annoys the crap out of me. And right now, I am just fricking scared out of mind about the road that we are travelling down. But, in the end, he is steadfast in his commitment to me and our family. And when I look around me, even on our worst days, there is no other man and no other marriage that I would trade for my own.

Alison said...

Andrea, your comments about your own marriage highlight something that I've always been astonished at in my parents' marriage and my own: knowing without a doubt that your partner loves you, will stand by you, support and defend you and your marriage, and never think about walking away. Knowing that truth makes it a no-brainer to return the commitment in kind.

Jessica said...

I so loved this.

My parents got a divorce when I was 19. But it still affected me, and still does to this day.

While I am scared sometimes that we wont make it, I know Im being dramatic. My husband and I are committed. We dont say the D word when we fight, and we dont threaten to leave. He is my best friend, and also drives me completely bat shit crazy. But?!

And this is a HUGE but.

We meant what we said at the altar that day. In front of God, our families, our 10 month old son, and our friends. We meant it and we stand by it. Through the good times and the bad.

Leigh Powell Hines said...

I agree, too. Hollywood treats marriages like dating.

Nancy said...

Really, he loves and respects her, but they grew apart...what a crock!

I have been divorced once, thankfully we didn't have children. I tried for a year and half to make a marriage work with someone who didn't want to be married to me.

I have fought hard for this marriage that I have now. It isn't perfect, it isn't easy, but we have a daughter and "our" marriage isn't just about is about our family as well.

I am sad when I hear how many people want to get married, but aren't "allowed" to and how many others just walk away when things aren't easy.

stefanie said...

Liz, I hear you that divorce is hard on kids, but I see that as a step removed from the problem - the real problem is marrying the wrong person.

My parents married very young, had a horrible marriage, fought constantly, created an environment of havoc and chaos for me and my brother. I begged my mom to leave him, but she never did, because she had been taught that divorce isn't an option when you have kids - and now at age 30 I'm in therapy to deal with the scars from the anger I was steeped in at home.

So the lesson is this, I think: people should think very carefully about who they marry, and they should recognize that breaking up a marriage is traumatic for everyone. But in a lot of cases, the trauma of divorce is way less than the trauma of keeping the marriage intact.