Facebook is an interesting thing. It has it’s positive points, like the fact I can now easily communicate with and keep up with the lives of my family overseas. I love seeing pictures, jokes, and funny anecdotes shared by friends. I enjoy the feature where I can see posts from the past. On the other hand, there are the political bullshit posts (how many of you are tired of THOSE?) Whenever people from “the other side” of politics post something attacking my views, it’s sometime worthwhile to take a deep breath and keep on scrolling. Sometimes I wonder if Facebook hurts as many friendships as it helps. In the middle of the endless political posts, jokes, TMI posts, etc, there are the weird posts that come across that make you wonder….”wha’ happened?”
Two such posts crept across my newsfeed recently. A friend and former coworker, who I follow on FB but don’t see outside in the real world now we have different jobs etc, suddenly posted a pic of her with a new fella. When I met her, she was married long term, with a son. I knew she desperately wanted another baby, but it never panned out for her. She posted pics of her and her husband on cruise ships, buying and renovating a house, and other, normal family type activities. “must be a new friend” I mused, and kept scrolling.
Then I notice she tagged him in lots of pics and posts. This was CLEARLY a VERY good friend. Then the love post appeared, and a post of the two of them with her son and his kids. I caught the post where she said she was hoping they would have a baby between them soon. Husband, it appears, was long out of the picture. Or perhaps not so long. Who knows? As with any breakup of a marriage, it’s often hard to know what to feel. Sadness for a dream that ended? Sadness it couldn’t work? Happiness that a possibly bad situation is over? Happiness for new beginnings? It’s always tough for those in the ripple effect around a couple splitting to know what to feel. I felt sad her marriage had ended, clearly after a very long go of it, but I was happy to see a sparkle in her eye. Still, I wondered what happened. How do couples who have been together 20 years or so suddenly call it quits? I suppose Facebook is what you let it be, and she hid what was going on very well. I am very much an open book, so I doubt had I been in her situation I would have been as discreet.
Fast forward a few weeks, and another former coworker, from the same company now that I’m thinking of it, posted she was with her ill mother. She made a comment about starting a new life alone is hard, especially without her family around. For all intents and purposes, it looked like she too may be at the end of a marriage. This was a military wife who had been married since her late teens or very early twenties I believe. Another multi decade marriage, apparently at the end. Again, I felt saddened by that. Then I noticed in her pictures she was looking a bit happier, so I chose to be happy for her.
I’ve been married 12 years. I got married during the simultaneously best and worst year of my life. I got married, moved, had a baby, dealt with some post partum depression, lost my mother to cancer, went back to work, and was a new mom without my own mom to guide me. It was amazing and hard, and joyful and it brought me to my lowest points. It was a year of utter chaos. We got through it together, my husband and I. We’ve been through babies, new beginnings, the death of parents, fights, making up, and all the little life moments. We only really see each other a day and a half a week, but perhaps that makes it easier. We manage well on our own but work really well as a team. We don’t see each other every day, so we don’t take each other for granted. It works for us, but certainly it wouldn’t work for everyone. Nobody makes me laugh like he can. Nobody makes me feel safer or happier than he can. I’m very lucky, and I wish everyone felt that way in their marriage. Unfortunately, not everyone does.
I’m at an age now where I’m more comfortable with myself than ever before. Life seems easier in a lot of ways because I know who I am and I act accordingly. Once you get a grasp of that it sure makes decisions easier, although don’t ask me what I want for dinner…..please don’t ask me that because while I know who I am, my stomach has no idea and it wants to do the equivalent of Rumspringa. Unfortunately, I am also at an age where my friends’ parents are starting to pass away, marriages are sometimes ending, and some of my friends who had kids early are becoming empty nesters. It’s a different time that when I was younger. I see a lot of endings and new beginnings cross that Facebook newsfeed. Sometimes I don’t see the ending. Sometimes, I miss the middle, and sometimes the beginning is subtle. I assume I will see many more.
I sometimes wonder what causes long term marriages to end. I suppose I can understand shorter term ones. Sometimes, marriage is hard. Sometimes, the person you marry lets all the habits they had hidden while dating suddenly go free, and some are deal breakers. Sometimes people change. Sometimes, the person turns into a bad person. Sometimes, people just realize they aren’t as happy as they could be, and that life is too short not to be as happy as they can. That being said, 20 or so years into a marriage, what makes someone say “NOW I want to leave.”? I don’t begrudge the choice, I just find it interesting. I have an aunt and uncle, married well over 30 years. They just announced a divorce. I thought “you’ve put up with each other’s shit for this long…what was the straw that broke the camel’s back?”
It’s not my place to know. It’s not my place to ask. It’s not my business.
But I’m still curious. I’m curious by nature. I always wonder why people make the decisions they do, what their life story is, what happened in life to make them who they are. I love to study people and their behavior. I probably should have made it a career.
Again, I’m not sure what to feel when I hear these stories. I have one friend who is trying to get a divorce from her husband. He’s a horrible person, cheats, lies, bullies, intimidates. He has a girlfriend and a baby with her, but won’t divorce my friend, instead dragging it out. In her case, I will be happy for her the day it is final. I have other friends getting divorced, and I feel a bit sad, because they always seemed happy to me, but again, I’m not living with them, so what the hell do I know anyway? I suppose I feel sad for the loss of the dream. Nobody gets married with the thought “I’ll ride this out for 10 years and then I’m bailing”. We get married with the hope of forever. It saddens me when those hopes and dreams don’t come to fruition for people. Divorce and splits are more common that they used to be, but by the same token I’d hate to see anyone sitting in a bad marriage just to keep the masses happy.
So while the dream is gone, it does pave the way for new dreams, new adventures. For that fact, I am happy for my friends. I have always stood by one very simple statement: “you are only one choice or decision from an entirely new life.” It’s scary sometimes, it’s amazing sometimes, but at the end of the day, the person making the decision is opening up a world of new possibilities. I’m very happy in my marriage, and everyone deserves to have that same happiness. Sometimes they just don’t find it the first try. That’s ok.
While I wouldn’t ask them what happened, what changed, I wish my friends the very best. I hope that Facebook shows me their new futures with smiling faces and happy adventures. I hope perhaps I eventually see new weddings. Marriage, after all, is supposed to be love, trust, respect, hopes, dreams, and happiness. That’s why so many celebrate it with such pomp and circumstance. Those wonderful things are meant to be celebrated. When they don’t work out, sometimes they are quietly skipped over on facebook, leaving those curious about the change to wonder “wha’ happened?”