Δευτέρα, 30 Ιανουαρίου 2017

The D.I.V.O.R.C.E. Gene

In August 1987, I was transferred from the training center of Avlona, where I had spent the first 6 months of my national service, to the 26th Medium Armored Regiment in Litochoro. At some point I needed a haircut, and so I made a visit to the village barber.


Village barber nothing like the one I went too...
He sat me down, a snip here, a snip there and started grilling me. What's my name, where am I from, did I study anything and what, do I have any property (!). At that point he kindly explained that except for being the village barber he was also the village matchmaker, and had often "matched" young men doing their national service in one of the areas many army units, to one of the local girls! So he was always on the lookout for a good "catch". During our conversation it came out that my parents were divorced, at which he glumly said, Aaaa leave it, you won't do..." and stopped the interrogation...I was curious as to why, so I asked and got the following piece of popular wisdom: "Children of divorced parents get divorced too!" So they are no good for an arranged marriage...




I may not have paid particular attention at the time, but it would be a lie to say I didn't ponder a little on it. My parents divorce was fairly fresh, only 2-3 years before. I was 17 when it happened, at an age when you tend to doubt many things, and to which another doubt was added, a doubt about the institution of marriage...
What was quite interesting was that my grandmother on my dad's side (the greek side) had also divorced and remarried, which was quite unusual for that age (the '40s)

Some years later it was my turn to marry. Given my doubts on the whole idea of marriage it was not an easy decision. Also my wife to be was not pregnant, a fact which made a lot of my friends ask "Well, why are you getting married then?" I had the answer ready then. I just could not imagine my life without her. At 24 which I was at the time, that was enough of a good reason, I had no doubt.

Can not.
A year and a half later came the arrival of our first child. The seal of a happy marriage....
At the same time my dad was in his second marriage. My mother had not remarried and would never do so. 

Our marriage lasted officially just over 15 years, add to that the 5 we had been together already, that made it 20. We had a second child too, so I found myself in 2006 divorced with two kids.Like many people we had entered into a steady relationship early on, making what we felt was a mature decision, without being mature ourselves. That is one of the points where I think marriages suffer today, the maturity of the partners.

When I say it lasted officially 15 years I say so because in reality it had finished a while before, but I chose to turn a blind eye to this.
There were problems but I tended to gloss them over, in an attempt to keep my marriage going, to keep it strong. I created a story, a little fairytale which I told others, about how well we were together, a story which I believed too. Rather selfishly I did not want to break up, and so I would not allow it to happen! I also did not want my kids to go through the trauma of divorce. Finally one of us made the first step...

not on a jet plane...
As my marriage fell apart, so did I, almost... the only thing that kept me going was the fact I had the girls to look after.

So the barber/matchmaker/geneticist was right!! All was pre-determined, destiny was rushing headlong towards me like a freight train out of control...
As all this was going down, my father had already divorced his 3rd wife...

Six months later, a few days after I had decided I absolutely would NOT pursue any other women or another relationship, I met her. My second wife to be. Six months after meeting her, we were pregnant and 9 months after that I was married again and a proud dad of a lovely son...
Actually just before my second marriage/wedding, I would come up against this "divorcee racism" in another way... For this time I was considered "damaged goods" and not good enough for my new wife, according to my mother-in-law. Sort of like a used car. She obviously kinda hoped her daughter would opt for "new" and not "used"... She told me very clearly she believed I had destroyed her life, and shattered all her dreams for both of her girls..not sure how that could be I was only marrying one of them, but maybe in her world view having a brother-i-law who had been previously married was also a shame...

It didn't matter, we married anyway.

Only to divorce 5 years later.


yup!
I realise now, after two divorces, and spending most of my life married, that I made a number of very common mistakes. I got married too early on and for the wrong reasons. I failed to realise and also to accept that first marriage was a mistake, until it was way too late. 
Interestingly, and this is something I have spent a lot of time dwelling on, my inability to accept that first marriage as a "mistake" was tied to two things. One was this. I somehow felt that to dismiss my marriage as a mistake would make my children a mistake, which of course is totally stupid. Yet it is not an uncommon feeling, although I do fear it is a rather childish one... Children often deny the possibility that their parents were mistakenly together because somehow they feel this would negate the reason for their existence, but this is not so.
The other thing my inabiity was tied to, was the fact that I had this deep subconscious wish to NOT divorce, to NOT do what my parents did. Another mistake, is that I went into a very similar relationship as my first one, through some bizzare subconscious wish to achieve the unachievable. To have a succesful relationship with someone obviously unsuited to me... 
Yet another mistake, to not have a few "learning" relationships. I jumped into the first one, and the second one, without giving myself some time to find out more about myself. And how do we find out more about our wants and needs? By trial and error.. only I was intent on error...

After all these experiences, I have to say that I find it interesting that more or less, all of us have similar reactions to these matters. There is a cycle of emotions that one goes through. To a certain extent it depends a little on whether you are the one who is "leaving" or the one "staying". Usually the one "leaving" doesn't say much unless he is feeling so guilty and is so immature as to want to cover up his mess and decision by laying blame on the other side in as vocal a way as possible. More often it is the one "staying" who will be "advertising his or her woes and how much they were wrongdone... The hurt one then turns to hate, as a reaction to the pain, while the other usually takes a quick turn for the better, losing weight, changing hairstyle...

Then some time passes and the bitterness sweetens a little or at least so it should...

In every divorce a measure of responsibility lies with each of the divorcees. Ideally then at some point a mutual understanding should be achieved. All of this is way , way more important if there are kids involved. The worst thing you can do to children is to make them feel as if they have to chose a side. Remember they had no choice as to who their parents are, and they have both of you...

As a child of a divorced couple I can say that children usually understand all too well what is going on, but there is no need for hate, nothing becomes better by allowing hate in... (and when I mentioned hate further up as a step in the circle of emotions, I meant it only as something that must pass, and that must be kept inside or between the ex-couple alone, not allowed "out") In fact all of the emotions in the circle must be allowed their space and then must pass, if you linger too long, you and others will suffer.

I want to take this "article" a little further here on the subject of kids. 

Do you know that as a species, ours is the one whose infant is looked after by its parents for the longest period?

There is a reason for this. As a species we are reliant on this time that it takes to reach maturity, in order to acquire the knowledge required to survive and continue the species. No lowly instincts alone for us. No plopping out and rushing to stand on little spindly legs in order to rush of into the woods a few months later...

Instead years and years of human interaction teaches all we need to survive. Or at least it should.

How many parents have not wished that included in the little sack with the placenta, there were a little cellophane package with a full set of multilingual instructions? It is after all a requirement of EU law...

But even though we have tried to find a way around this by writing our own, still for the majority of kids, whose parents may not have access to some book by Dr Spock or whoever, the manual is the PARENTS. 

It is by our interaction with our parents that we learn to interact with other people , with the world... Ever wondered why boys seem to get on better with their mothers and girls with their fathers? It is a form of training. 
Little boys and little girls need both ther parents in order to interact with them in preparation. A preparation to face life. To face relationships to cope, to love, to nurture, to survive, to make it...


What's going on?
That is why it is important for couples with kids to stay together at least for a certain amount of time. That is why it is important for those couples who know they are going to be having kids, to know what they are getting into...
Jorge Bucay the Argentinian psychologist and writer, is adamant when he says that a couple about to have a child must be prepared to absolutely be together until the child reaches the age of  two, to do everything possible to stay together until it reaches the age of four, and then as the years pass it becomes just slightly less important, but that is always expecting that even if divorced the parents will do the right thing and continue to be just that, parents and active ones at that.

Only too often you see divorced couples, where the father slowly fades out of his child's life... or maintains an almost decorative role seeing his kids every other weekend... Eventually he may remarry and contact will slowly be lost... or the other thing that happens is when a father is scarce and he becomes the hero, as the mother is the one that has to take care of all the daily tiring stuff, and her relaltionship with the children often suffers for this...
Right, enough...

More soon...

Enjoy the song!

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