Family of Me

by Daphne
Updates Mondays and Fridays

Scene 110: Divorce Cascade

Mom (Me): Good morning Aura. How are you?

Aura (The Professional): I’m alright.

Mom: You look pensive. May I ask what about?

Aura: Just thinking… About divorce.

Mom (hesitant): Ah. Divorce in general, or…

Aura: Sort of? We’ve lived through several.

Mom (confused): I’m not sure I follow. We’ve only been married once… And we’re still married.

Aura: Sorry, I don’t mean between you and your partner; I mean involving the people around us. Divorce among people we were friends with; sometimes even people we were close to.

Mom: Oh. Yeah, we’ve lived through a few of those. How do you feel about that?

Aura (pensive): It’s complicated. On the one hand, I feel proud that we’ve forged a bond that’s lasted so long — but at the same time, are we only together out of inertia? Besides, what of our friends getting divorced? It’s a difficult process and it’s tough as nails while it’s happening, but afterwards those friends seem happier alone or with new partners than they were together.

Mom (concerned): Are you suggesting we divorce our partner?

Aura: No, nothing like that. I’m just trying to think logically about it, especially since the relationship between you and your partner has been difficult for… A while.

Mom (careful): True… It has.

Aura: We grew up in a family and culture where divorce was stigmatized… Bloom was more or less expected to get married and then stay married for the rest of her life. People got divorced back then too, but divorce always felt like some sort of failure. Divorced couples fell apart because of infidelity or because one partner had wronged the family in some egregious way. The possibility that a couple wasn’t compatible or grew apart over the years just wasn’t considered.

Mom: Or it was also considered a moral failing, like divorce itself.

Aura: We know better now though, don’t we? Divorce *isn’t* a moral failing, and it’s okay for people to grow apart. It’s okay if two people discover they aren’t as compatible as they once thought.

Mom (careful): While true, it’s not quite that simple. Marriage comes with legal entanglements and tax implications, too. Since I’m a parent, I have to consider how divorce might impact our child too.

Aura (critical): Staying together “for the children” can impact a child negatively too.

Mom: I know; I’m just trying to point out that it’s complicated. There’s a lot to consider, and besides, I still love my partner very much. She enriches our lives in many ways, and I don’t really *want* to break up with her. Do you feel differently?

Aura (hesitant): No, I don’t…

Mom: The state of our marriage isn’t exactly new information for you, is it? I’m a little surprised you’re bringing it up now.

Aura: I mean, you have to think about this stuff sometime, right? Since Ivy left it’s felt like a good time to take stock of things.

Mom (relieved): Ah… That explains it.

Aura: Explains what?

Mom: Why you’ve been so concerned about this. It feels a bit like a divorce cascade.

Aura (confused): A what now?

Mom: When a couple gets divorced, that can cause couples close to them to get divorced too, and those divorces can trigger others in turn. The first divorce slowly cascades through the entire circle of friends like a pebble dropped into a pond.

Aura: Ah, I’ve heard of that phenomena. I suppose that makes sense in retrospect; divorce signals a person to take stock of their own marriage… Though you’d think if things were really bad, it wouldn’t take someone else’s divorce to get that ball rolling.

Mom: I think that’s just how people are, honestly. There’s a book called *Thinking in Bets* by Annie Duke that explains this; it supposes that beliefs stays intact until they’re challenged in a way that matters. So if you believe something like “four times five is thirty,” you’ll keep believing that thing, even if someone goes out of their way to show you a times table. If someone says “I’ll bet you five bucks that it’s not” though, that puts real stakes on your belief, so now you’ll think about it.

Aura (understanding): I think I follow… When someone close to you goes through a divorce, it feels like they’re asking “I bet you’d be happier apart.” I suppose Ivy taking time away from the family triggered a similar wave of introspection in me.

Mom: Not just you, all your sisters too… probably including Ivy, to be honest. But it’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time we’ve had our marriage challenged by events around us. As you noted in the beginning of this conversation, we’ve had close friends divorce a couple times, and my transition challenged our relationship pretty intensely too.

Aura: And yet, you’re still married.

Mom: Exactly. I love my partner and both of us are willing to turn towards each other to work through our challenges. Notice I didn’t say “work through our differences,” as if the only solution is to compromise when we don’t agree on things… I mean we’re both striving to be comfortable with ourselves so we can build a solid relationship between us. It’s about learning to grow alone but also choosing to grow together where we can.

(Aura thinks for a few moments before responding.)

Aura: You always give me a lot to think about, Mother.

Mom (smiling): That’s the idea.

Aura: Hah, fair. I’m going to mull over this a bit… Maybe I’ll write a message for Ivy too, if you don’t mind sending it for me.

Mom: Of course not, daughter. Good luck.

Aura: Thanks, Mom.