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Giving In

By April 12, 2012July 21st, 2023Divorce

I talk to a lot of people about giving in: what it means, what it doesn’t. Is it giving in to agree to a schedule that works for you but is not what you wanted? Is it giving in to agree to a school or a teacher or a doctor that you didn’t suggest but have no objection to? There’s a not-so-fine line between being reasonable and doing something because “of the principle”. The issue is: what will make you happy- sticking to your guns for the sake of the sticking or giving in for the sake of the greater good.

It’s not easy getting divorced, but it’s also not the end of the world. I have people to whom I talk and they are usually either a) elated to be getting divorced or b) devastated at the news. Here’s the thing: they’re both wrong. Getting divorced may not be the end of the world but it’s also nothing to celebrate. (Unless you are in an abusive relationship in which case leaving should be encouraged and rejoiced.) The end of a marriage is the death of a prior relationship. It’s the end to what you thought was true. It’s the acceptance that what you once believed and vowed to hold dear is no longer. It’s the understanding and appreciation that a love that once was does not exist as it was.

And yet, divorce does not mean that your life is not worthy, that the end of the marriage means an end to happiness, that to close the door on one relationship does not mean you are closing the door to love or joy. Divorce is life-changing but it need not be a cataclysmic event that throws your entire life off course, into question, into turmoil. The sorrow that you feel must not crowd out your instincts for self-preservation, to do what’s in your best interests. If you cannot stop the tears, you must understand that you still need to move forward, you need to take steps to right yourself and your life, you need to act and to move toward your new reality. The steps need not be large but they must be taken. You must have faith that all is not lost, that your soul and your heart, while bruised and broken, have not been destroyed. You need to know that your tears will dry and your heart will heal and your soul will rebound. Your life may not be what you thought it would be, but is it ever really anyway? You can do this.

You can make it through this and you will. It may turn out better or worse than you thought, but it will be over, it will be done and you will have the time to sit and be calm and take in your new surroundings. You can do this. It may not be what you wanted, and it may not turn out exactly as you had hoped, but you will still be standing at the end. You can do this.

And when it is happening and when it is over and conflicts occur and you stick to your guns, think about why you are not giving in. Is it just because of the principle? If so, principles should guide us only when they serve us well; they should not act as barriers to peace. Giving in does not mean giving up and it doesn’t mean you are defeated and it doesn’t mean you are weak. Rather, it means you are strong enough to put the best interests of your family before your pride; it means you are secure enough to understand that cooperation is not capitulation; it means knowing that you have been to hell, that you have returned, and that the trip, while not easy, was worth it in the end.


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