44 Comments

I love this. I’m not in either category but my god do we need to normalize talking about these kinds of situations and decisions that have been deemed NSFPC (not safe for public consumption. I just made it up 🤷🏽‍♀️) Postpartum depression, anxiety, and psychosis. The recalibration any relationship goes through after having children or bringing children into the family, even if it was strong and healthy before. Losing a pet who was truly your best friend and companion and grieving them. Deciding whether or not to cut off communication with a family member or friend. Admittedly those are all examples from my life, but there are many more. Culture Study is one of the only places that I’ve found that constantly broaches these topics and opens space for thoughtful reflection and discussion. Thank you AHP for creating this space!

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My partner had postpartum psychosis after both our kids were born; we unsuccessfully tried to prevent it before the second one. Our experiences were different obviously, but easily the most traumatic events of our respective lives and there is very little out there to help you understand the trauma and cope with the grief and loss and fear about what the future holds for you. We just recently separated and while its not because of these experiences, the fallout, paths to recover and personal changes we've made to one degree or another related to it. Thanks for naming it.

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Thanks for sharing, and I’m so sorry you and your partner went through that.

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"sometimes, when the foundation itself is crumbling, and the beams are collapsing, and you’re keeping the entire structure in tact yourself — you need someone to tell you it doesn’t have to be this way." I want to echo these words of wisdom. I was visiting a friend in the US one summer and going through my lengthy list of complaints about my marriage when she suddenly interrupted me. "If it's that bad, why don't you leave?" Because it had never occurred to me. Because I thought I had to stay with my husband forever. Because, because, because. Thank goodness my friend asked that question. That question led, eventually, to a much better life.

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That's a good friend. When I called my supposedly best friend crying, wanting to it all to be over, she said, and I quote, "Well, where else are you going to go? He's a good man. Go back and make it work." That twisted my thinking about my marriage for a very long time.

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One of my friends was all, "Have you worked at it? Marriage takes work!" Gentle readers, I had been in that marriage for nearly 30 years. In my case, splitting was not a hasty, impulsive act.

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Amen! I only lasted 20. 🙄

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Aug 7, 2022·edited Aug 7, 2022

Thank you @DB, for commenting. Bucks me up, as I reflect on my own next steps in a long term marriage.

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I just wanted to come in and say that I wish my mom would have had this opportunity four decades ago. She is very much a part of the “stay together for the kids” generation, and that wasn’t good for any of us. She did not see how she could survive, since her livelihood was tied up with my Dad (they worked together too, also bad for her). Grateful there is a place for people to talk about this, and get support from others with lived experience. Thank you!

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There's also a real challenge around encouraging that generation to support their children / grandchildren to see divorce as a real possibility. Many do as they see it as the option they never had, but some are stuck in still seeing the world through their ideological prison

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Yes! When my brother was going through the lead up to a divorce it was really hard for my mom- she was stuck, I would say.

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What a fantastic resource! My friends are just now getting married (early 30s), so all of the “should I stay or should I go?” conversations of our 20s never had the added weight of legal separation.

I just want to drop in and say that as a child of divorce, it was the best thing that could have happened. If anyone is wrestling with staying for the kids, don’t forget to factor in how important it is for a child to see joy and a healthy relationship. My parents were unhappy and my mother was mentally unstable. I got a stable, thriving home with my dad and later my step-mom and half-sister because of their divorce. I wouldn’t be who I am or have my beautiful life without that hard decision.

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founding

Divorced 6 years ago with teen kids, and what is so critical for me is that my ex and I can now model the relationship that we want to have for our kids. One of mutual respect and compromise, which we couldn't do while we were together with years of built up resentment. We can focus on the kids without our interpersonal issues getting in the way. It's not perfect or always rosy but lightyears ahead of where we were pre-divorce. Our collaborative divorce cost a fortune and no court was involved other than filing, but the best thing that our lawyers told us was that we will always be a family.

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That is great to hear. My split happened many years ago. My ex and I have become best friends (again), support one another and share parenting and grand parenting duties in a variety of ways. We truly have a much improved relationship compared to the one that ended in misery. It wasn't a failure. We had quite a few years that were good. But then they were horrible.

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Aug 3, 2022·edited Aug 3, 2022

I will read the Q&A with great interest...thank you for creating the forum.

I also often find myself curious to hear from happily married/partnered people about what makes their relationship successful. Like, I *think* my spouse and I are doing OK. But we still get in the occasional screaming match. Is that normal? What the hell is normal? What's the correct ratio of struggle vs. happy? Agh.

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I’ve been reading “How to Keep House While Drowning” (highly recommend, especially if you’re neurodivergent) and I want to tattoo so many of the lines on myself so I’ll never forget them. “Cleanliness is morally neutral” could also apply to finances and food and so many other things.

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“It will be on the mother who chose to blow up her family’s lives.”

So many upper middle class lifestyles depend on there being two adults. Divorce upends that class status because the split causes a shift, either in the labor or income required to produce upper middle class status.

Patriarchy would always want the fault for failure of such a structure to fall on the woman. Or in other words: of course it’s the mother’s choice, rather than, as Black pointed out in her tweet, a woman’s right to be free from the ways in marriage often perpetuates patriarchy. So much great food for thought here about the life I want to live, the supports I believe should exist in the world, & the choices I want everyone to have.

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So much here, and yet, I’m without words upon reading the first line. Such a profoundly true statement. And sadly, I fear we continue to perpetuate it over and over ourselves, like our mothers and fathers and grandparents did. I have so many mixed up thoughts about a woman’s “place”.

I will say, after recently reading Essential Labor: Mothering as Social Change I am having some revelations of my own that are reshaping the way I see so many things in this world. New shape of said world TBD, and if I actually survive my 3 middle schoolers starting this year, and my oldest starting high school (whose marching band schedule is already a beating) , I will hopefully have learned more and more about this concept of labor, how the “work” of mothering we all do could actually be considered essential; arguably, the most essential labor of all, and provided not just by actual mothers but by community; that income and profit are measured in the strength of the next generation.

Okay, guess I did have words, wasn’t exactly speechless I suppose 😂 I rarely am, blessing & curse

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Aug 4, 2022·edited Aug 5, 2022

This is so true. A real demonstration of how capitalism traps people in social situations that are harmful, and then doubly compounded by patriarchy for people who aren't men

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As a divorced person, I clicked SO FAST on that link to volunteer my services. Divorce is hard enough without the shame, and I really wish it was talked about more openly and honestly, and neutrally or even positively!

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SAME

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SAME!

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Aug 3, 2022·edited Aug 3, 2022

Excellent! I just submitted a question. I'm most curious about the financial dollar costs of divorce and how marital debt gets resolved when it is mostly under one partner.

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Depends on your state laws. Texas, well at least as understood it when I went through it, is a community property state, so everything is community. Including the debt. But that’s legal jargon that should be directly and explicitly addressed in plain terms in any final decree. Meaning, ask the question, learn the laws and the capacity in which they apply to your situation. And if it’s possible, remove joint ownership of any credit cards or personal loans/lines of credit. My divorce finalized in 2014 and there were thousands in just credit card debt that, because i never bluntly as the question nor did I understand what the final decree would and would not hold actual power over, have destroyed both our credits. Most had both our names so they came to both for the money. I tried to fairly take on half as my own by opening a LOC myself only; but I am sure anyone can imagine, the other half never got paid. It still sits. No payment on a several thousand $ balance since the last he made in 2017. Meanwhile, my LOC that assumed half the debt is paid off, yet my credit still reflects the other.

And ultimately even the final decree doesn’t govern the banks and credit lenders, they aren’t required to divide the marital debt into 2 halves of responsibility. The point of the explicit nature in a decree is so that it’s clear to both parties, they signed it, and any sets and expectation that might be important in future litigation of your case (and if you have young children, expect further courtroom appearances & child support hearings. Life changes for the kids, so the initial arrangements may no longer be appropriate I’ve learned).

Hope this helps without sounding hopeless or negative. I just know how I messed up and expected too much out of other people without asking the questions I should have. So, first, if possible, divide all unsecured debt COMPLETELY. No joint ownership, not even listed as authorized user on a credit card. Separate it. Second, when/if the time comes, make sure you ask these question above to your attorney, even get a second opinion through legal aid office in your area if so desired. Third, keep asking and make sure you understand. Fourth-check for the explicit orders before you sign a decree; attorneys can be intimidating without meaning to and part of the job seems to be that they have to be vague, and be good at it. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just how some are; mine was at least. I should have taken advantage of his paralegal or associate attorney’s for these things, really homes in on these questions. There are resources, find them early, use them early. Fifth-make sure I’m mediation or final trial or however it goes in your situation, that you both understand the meaning of the decree, including the division of debt and property, very clearly. I was so focused on custody, after 1.5 years of battling that war, I just couldn’t think of anything but custody. Custody matters; but the ability to move forward financially does too. Don’t short change yourself on the property & debt settlements; they do matter.

Best of thoughts to you. Whatever road you’re on, you’re never alone.

Jill

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Thank you for sharing. I'm so sorry that happened to you. I hope all of that awfulness falls off of your credit report soon!

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I was listening to a David Sedaris story from his "Happy go lucky" collection. He mused briefly on how he couldn't fathom why people get divorced these days. He asked rhetorically "Was one of them cheating? No! So what's the problem?"

I was infuriated--but also fascinated at how obdurate the white male view is even when it has the benefit of seeing how privilege falls unevenly across our social/civil institutions like marriage.

As a man whose parents probably should never have married--but as a man who still benefits even from the limited years my parents set up the briefly/almost-accidentally stable but always creaky facade of a family--I am just horrified. Horrified, but hopeful that my two kids will at minimum not experience and not contribute to the same terrible inequities. That hope entails a strong appreciation of the journalism and research here.

Thank you.

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I wasn't married, but ending my 9 year partnership inspired two friends to get divorced, so I'm all for this!

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I love this! When I got divorced 5 yrs ago, I knew *no one* in my circle of friends or even distant acquaintances who had gone through a divorce with kids. I was so desperate for someone who had been through it to tell me that things were going to be ok. Now, 5 yrs later, I've been honored to be that resource to multiple friends who have now gone through divorce too.

Thank you, Anne, for creating this space that cracks open topics and allows space to share!

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Great idea for a thread & support mechanism. I wish I'd had something like this when my separation & divorce kicked off. I had a couple of people in my life who were very supportive, but several more who were the opposite of supportive, and having a forum like this one--esp offering anonymity--would have been a big boon to me. Thanks, AHP, good on you.

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founding

Thank you for talking about this. Somehow why do I feel like being divorced is more stigmatized now than when my parents got divorced 25 years ago? Being the child of divorced parents was a good warning to pick my serious partners carefully. My mom also said she delayed divorce so as to provide me a stable childhood home for longer, and I can tell you that while I’m sure that had some positive effects, the negative effects of being around a deeply unhappy mother was also significant.

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I think divorce is less common now!

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Also, your line “you need someone to tell you it doesn’t have to be this way” is also so broadly applicable. I have a longtime theory about friends in bad relationships that sounds similar: sometimes you need someone to tell you that this looks bad from their perspective, even if the you in that moment gets defensive or isn’t ready to hear it. Later, if they also have that thought, they’ll have the validation that they weren’t the only one who thinks this is bad. So far, it’s panned out for me - but I’ve definitely gotten yelled at a few times.

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