Ran across this amazing piece of reportage/opinion in the bowels of the Huffington Post (see? TOLD you I was a Progressive...) and almost peed myself when I read this gem: "Why We Shouldn't See Divorce As A 'Failed' Marriage", by Vicki Larson -- self-declared Journalist, Mother, and Thinker (although after reading this, someone might want to verify her CV on that last count). Ms. Larson contends that a divorce is not a "failed marriage". Which is, perhaps, the greatest single example of the Rationalization Hamster going.
Look, it's not that I don't 'believe' in divorce. I don't have a religious dog in the fight over 'til death do us part' and the Biblical underpinnings of modern matrimony. In my tradition we usually pledge "As long as love shall last", which might seem to lack commitment but is a far more realistic measurement of the durability of a marriage these days. Still, my tradition also places a very, very high value on keeping oaths. Especially sacred oaths. If you swear before the gods and your ancestors and all the spirits of nature that you will stay married 'til death do us part', then you have made a vow which should be kept if humanly possible.
You can read the whole thing, but to sum up her point divorce shouldn't be seen as a 'failed marriage' (which would imply someone was at fault -- to blame -- responsible -- guilty -- for the loss) because:
1) She doesn't want to take the blame (" no one better tell me that my marriage "failed." No, it ended in divorce. And, yes, I did start over.")
2) Some people are abused or cheated on, so they shouldn't be blamed either.
3) Divorce is better than staying in a really, really bad marriage.(Or, apparently, even a moderately bad one. Or a decent one but a better deal comes along. But according to the Hamster that's almost like he was beating you, so . . .)
4) Everybody is doing it. ("about half of us can't, maybe even more given how many couples remain married in name only because of financial or health-care benefits.")
5) We might not be designed to be monogamous anyway ("The fact that half of all married couples end up divorced by their 20th anniversary raises some serious questions on whether we are able to be "permanent, monogamous pair-bonders." ) Or it raises serious questions about the flakiness of and ability to trust a commitment from an alleged adult in this day and age. But it really is more convenient to blame evolution.
6) You shouldn't judge me ("who decides what's the "right" or "wrong" reason to divorce? Why should a spouse be labeled a "quitter" or "selfish" if he or she decides the marriage isn't working? ") Um . . . because they quit? Because "it isn't working for me" is an inherently selfish statement? Because when you promise something, you're supposed to live up to that promise?
7) It only hurts kids if we don't prepare them for the fact that their parents can't get it together and manage a simple heterosexual relationship: (" ...the importance of good co-parenting relationships and keeping both parents involved in meaningful ways in their kids' lives. ") So you make great parents? Then you have the possibility for being a great wife or husband. Your unwillingness to make the effort and see it through is instructive of your character.
8) It's unfair to compare children of divorce to "normal" kids. We should only compare them to kids from really, really shitty married households. Kids who grow up in happy, two-parent households are aliens or something. But if you compare kids from crappy divorced parents to kids from crappy married parents, they don't look so bad anymore. And that's how a hamster moves a goalpost, boys and girls.
9) She doesn't want to take the blame. (" We shouldn't slap a #fail label on people who divorce. Let's have faith that they'll do things better the next time -- or maybe the time after that.") Why not? Haven't you failed? And aren't you actually more likely to fail the second time around, since you've already built-in failure by considering a third? That's like buying a car you know is destined for the junkyard . . . it's only a matter of time. After all, it's been in one bad wreck already . . .
While 'prior performance is not indicative of future results', it's usually a pretty serious indicator, a red-flag warning at the least. And since more than half of second marriages fail in the first few years, then a two-time loser should be a klaxon in your ear. I've seen plenty of second-marriages work out just fine, as folks made more mature and reasoned decisions the second time around, and brought some skills from the first marriage to the second. But redefining failure as success doesn't make it any more successful. That's the Hamster talking.
See why I almost peed?
Ms. Larson, perhaps you skipped that day in journalism school when they covered "objective reality", or perhaps the part of English 101 when they went over "words mean things". But divorce, by any reasonable, rational observation, is, indeed, a failed marriage. Like a miscarriage is a "failed pregnancy". There was an expectation and a reasonable level of determining success . . . and you screwed it up. The two of you. That means him AND you.
To be fair, there is usually one party or the other that is at MORE fault, I'll grant you. But the expectations and commitment implied that day you wore that pretty white dress and those darling slippers for your big party were crystal clear. If you are not married before you or your spouse dies, then your marriage failed. And yes, you bear a certain amount of responsibility for that regardless of whether or not you were the 'offending' party. You can stamp your foot and say it isn't fair, that it shouldn't count, that things have changed, but the real, Red Pill objective-reality fact of the matter is that YOUR MARRIAGE FAILED.
If you weren't planning on finishing the race, why bother to start? Did you not understand the level of commitment involved? Did you not comprehend what you were signing on for? Did you give it any more thought, study, and consideration than you gave your cell-phone contract . . . or were you busy dealing with place settings and flower arrangements and sea-foam green bridesmaids dresses?
Your marriage failed. It didn't 'transform', it died. Regardless of any other circumstance, you and your husband chose not to honor the biggest voluntary commitment any human being can make to each other. Therefore, your marriage failed. You can try to blame it on society, on statistics, on the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. You can try to trash the institution and point out that a high failure rate implies that the whole institution is poorly conceived. You can try to blame the system, the economy, the fortunes of war, the pressures of modern life, or the whims of blessed Hera, Herself, but the undeniable fact is that YOUR MARRIAGE FAILED. And since you were a part of that, as blameless as you might be, yes, YOU failed at being married. You failed at being a wife. Your ex failed at being a husband. Fail, fail, #fail!
Are troubled, sick, dysfunctional marriages better than divorce? Perhaps. I'll agree that you cannot count such as 'successful' marriages. But they aren't 'failed' marriages, they are fail-ing marriages. Regardless of their condition or context, they are still in the present tense. Divorce means your marriage is in the past tense . . . and that means it Failed. A big fat F.
I don't know if you just didn't do your due diligence on your mate and improperly vetted them, or if you decided you could do better, or you just didn't have the character to handle the challenges implicit in a functioning heterosexual dyad, but it doesn't matter. Your marriage failed. You may not want us to judge you for it, but the fact is that some people do, and always will. It amazes me that people who would freak out over the idea of not paying their taxes or doing the volunteer work they signed up for or abandoning a puppy look at the commitment implied in marriage as one of those "it doesn't really count" promises.
I know of at least one employer who will not hire someone who's divorced, if he finds out and learns the details. And since he does a criminal background check and credit check on his potential employees, he almost always finds out. But since he works in an industry where trust is their stock-in-trade, he is very, very cautious about the people he hires. His employees are his reputation, and he understandably doesn't want to risk what he's built because one of them went flaky. When every deal could mean millions of dollars, trust is a serious issue.
But he won't hire divorced people, except in rare cases, because he reasons that if the prospective employee doesn't take a commitment to creating a family -- and family is forever -- seriously enough to work through marital difficulties, then it doesn't matter what other accomplishments that individual has to their name, they are not considered trustworthy. They couldn't keep a sacred commitment, which undermines their credibility on everything else. They are unacceptable risks.
It's almost gotten him sued a couple of times, but being in a right-to-work state and having fewer than the Federal-reg-triggering 15 employees gives him all the legal ground he needs. To him, the integrity of divorced people are suspect, at the very least, until the specifics are known. That's not to say that married people are any more trustworthy, but they have at least one public vow or commitment that they are living up to.
Ms. Larson, this is nothing more than you trying to wiggle out of the responsibilities of adult life. Your marriage failed. Deal with it -- preferably by 'moving on', and not reliving and celebrating your bitter 'victory' in public on the internet. Divorce means your marriage failed. You either did a poor job of mate selection or you didn't do what you needed to to maintain a working relationship, but a rejection of logic and reason as profound as "Divorce doesn't mean your marriage failed!" is not going to make that go away.
You can move on. You can rebuild. You can "start over" (although any man who dated, let alone married, a woman who writes a 'divorce' column is either recklessly optimistic or addicted to drama). You can remarry. You can learn from your failure and try not to repeat your personal mistakes. But you cannot call a divorce a successful outcome of a marriage any more than you can claim a miscarriage is a successful outcome of a pregnancy. Not and be intellectually honest.
That's what the Rationalization Hamster is all about: allowing women to live their lives as they desire without accepting any blame, responsibility, or accountability for their actions. A "woman's prerogative to change her mind" is well known -- but intellectual flakiness at this level, Ms. Larson, strains credulity. You cannot define failure as success -- not really. You can lie to yourself. You can lie to your kids. You can lie to society-at-large. But no matter how hard your hamster spins, it cannot escape the cold, ruthless, uncomfortable objective fact that YOUR MARRIAGE FAILED. And, by extension, YOU FAILED.
So deal with it. Don't celebrate it. It's not something to celebrate. You screwed something important up big time, somehow, and while your attempt to rationalize it away as "not your fault" is understandable, it's also lame and pathetic and childish to try to escape responsibility for your failure. That's not what adults do. You're just embarrassing yourself.
Now, back to the show . . .
UPDATE: Also check out my collection of rum-derived Manosphere Inspirational Posters!