Being divorced is not a status any of us aspire to in life, and yet 50% of us that walk down the aisle dreaming of a happily ever after will fall into this category. Divorce is an incredibly harsh setback, but thankfully it does not usually define us; rather many see it is an opportunity to grow and refine themselves– if they can put the anger and/or disappointment behind them.
Does this sound too good to be true? Not really if you take a good look around you. There are so many examples of successful people that have picked up the pieces and kept on soaring after a divorce– not just in Hollywood, but in all professional areas including journalism, business, and politics, such as Maria Shriver, Arianna Huffington, Liz Gilbert, Sheryl Sandberg, Sonia Sotomayor, as well as many of the local experts that I interviewed for my tv show “Making It Last.” These, and so many of my past clients that embrace the motto onward and upward have become my heros, and while some have remarried, many have not.
The blinders come off after you go through a divorce, and you realize that love does not conquer all. If you spend enough time reflecting on the fragility of our human connections, you come to appreciate that lasting relationships are rare, and they require a lot of hard work. While the stats show that 75% of divorced men and 2/3 of divorced women will remarry, we are also painfully aware of the fact that the chances of divorcing a second time exceed 75%. Why is that? Well, I have 3 theories: (1) too many try to rush into marriage again without taking time to work on themselves; (2) not enough people do their due diligence and set up a proper framework for resolving conflict and dealing with money issues; and (3) blended family dynamics are tough.
Make no mistake about it, my mission the last 4 years working with the media has been to de-stigmatized divorce. It is not a dirty word, and if you really want to prevent it, then we need to have more open and honest discussions about the importance of selecting a proper partner and the hard work it takes to maintain a happy marriage as you navigate the various stages of life with all its challenges. Do I think it sucks that my own divorce is part of my claim to fame and a major impetus in the acceleration of my learning curve in my own field of study? Absolutely. But it is precisely because I have been through the journey that I have garnered the respect of my colleagues and clients– I don’t just talk the talk, I walk the walk each and every day.
Throughout the years, both in public settings like my law school lectures and in private client meetings, people have often asked me, will you remarry? Honestly, I don’t know, but I also no longer care. As much as I enjoyed being a wife and in a committed partnership for 12 years, I’ve also enjoyed a tremendous amount of freedom being single the last several years using my “free time” to research and write while finding inspiration from many experts in a variety of fields, especially those in the medical and mental health professions.
Maybe a century ago it was easier to say “I do” til death do you part when a woman’s life expectancy was only about 40, as was the case with my own great grandmother. But these are vastly different times, where they expect me to live to a ripe old age of 81, and unlike women just 50 years ago, my female peers are not economically dependent on their spouses to survive. These 2 factors alone have undeniably changed the landscape for all married couples going forward in the 21st century. Therefore, new times require new skills–it is time we stop longing for a classic model that is almost extinct and face our new reality.
Among the many things I am grateful for in this new age is modern technology, which enables me to share ideas with my peers in a wide range of disciplines worldwide at warped speed, and I welcome the feedback from the general public that is clearly seeking answers to some of the tough questions I’ve been asking the best of the best this past decade. The irony is not lost on me for a second, however, each and every day that my own greatest “loss” in life is what has triggered so much progress, as Ellen McCarthy so eloquently pointed out in her Washington Post article of June 2010, which then went viral. Since then, I am happy to report she’s been working on her own book on love that should come out this year and makes reference to this blog, which now has almost 3000 views per month.
Answers are out there, we just have to ask the right questions. In the meantime, in answer to the question of will I marry again all I can honestly say at this point is that I no longer fear falling in love again, and that is major progress. The goal is now to help others to feel the same way.
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.