The Decision to Divorce

Because there has been so much controversy (Yes, controversy!) over Elizabeth Gilbert’s recent decision to divorce post Eat Pray Love (I haven’t really read about the controversy–it would annoy me too much), I feel compelled to say a bit about the decision to divorce. Here goes:

  1. We all have a different level of discomfort when it comes to what we will or won’t tolerate in a living situation; everyone has a different breaking point.
  2. Your decision to stay in a marriage or partnership is yours alone; no one else gets to live your life (no one else has to walk in your shoes each day).
  3. Even if you have kids, the default assumption should not be that the kids would—in every situation—be better served by you staying in a bad marriage and, for this purpose, I’ll loosely define “bad” as anywhere on the spectrum between dissatisfying to abusive.

When you hear of a family member or friend’s decision to divorce, please know, it has undoubtedly been a long, hard process just to get to the point of decision. These individuals do not need your criticism or your heartfelt pleas to try longer (or, perhaps, try some great new counseling method or recommend a book like The Five Love Languages), what they need is your support and encouragement during the difficult days ahead. Maybe even, when they’re ready, congratulate them on their ability to take steps to make their life better, even if things have to get much harder first; let them know you think they are courageous warriors.


About Heidi Fettig Parton

I hold an MFA in creative nonfiction from Bath Path University. I write at the intersection of ecological and spiritual issues; I also write about the common experiences that unfold across women's lives, including marriage, motherhood, work matters (and vocation), divorce, and sexuality. Oh, and poetry is my drug of choice.
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