We are not a broken family

I have been heading a single-parent family for nearly six years now. I am a teacher, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat in meetings and conferences while others lamented the fact that we have to deal with “broken families.” I think it’s a hurtful phrase and one that I’ve had to work hard to overcome. My family is not broken. While maintaining our family’s privacy, I will just say divorce was not a decision that was taken lightly.

My ex-husband and I have made many compromises and more importantly, made peace with each other, in order to be the best co-parents possible for our kids. Yes, there are differences in our parenting styles, but we discuss all major decisions and are in general agreement on the important things. We face the same issues we would have been dealing with if we were still married.

Just because a children’s parents are divorced, it doesn’t have necessarily mean the family is broken. Broken to me means deficient in a way that is beyond repair. We may not have two parents living together in the same house, but I still consider my ex and his family my family and I always will.

We are bound together for the rest of our lives by our two children, and I want to make the best of it. I am happy that it’s not awkward or painful to sit together at recitals or meet up to go trick-or-treating. We will not have to sit in separate rows when our children graduate or get married.

Although it’s a sad statement about our society that the divorce rate is so high, the most practical way to help children is to give them a sense of family no matter what its makeup. I support the institution of marriage. When it works, it’s a beautiful partnership. But there are other types of families that work too. We may not look like the Pajamagram picture above, but we’re still a whole, beautiful family!

 

Please check out my first novel, Giving Myself Away, about a divorced mom making tough choices.

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What’s great about being married?

Adriennes blog 16 cake topper picHi, I’m Adrienne. I realize I’ve talked about being divorced a lot, but I was married longer than I’ve been single, and it’s time for me to move on.  I’m ready to stop being bitter and acknowledge how great marriage can be.  I can be happy for my married friends and family instead of envious or cynical about what they have.

So in honor of marriage, please help me make a list of the benefits of being married!

You can read more about my marriage and my divorce in Giving Myself Away, available now.

GivingMyselfAwayCover

Available at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle format

Available at Barnes and Noble in paperback and Nook format

What were you happiest your ex took with him in the divorce?

Adriennes blog 15 brown recliner picHi, I’m Adrienne.  I’m one of those people who likes to make lists.  You’ll find them stashed in drawers, hanging in the kitchen cabinets, and in the reminders app on my phone.  Not all of my lists are things to do.  Some of them are things to be grateful for.  There’s a list I pull out from my jewelry box every now and then when I’m feeling sorry for myself about being divorced.  The paper is getting fuzzy along the edges from being folded and unfolded so many times, but I’m happy to say I don’t need to look at this list as often as I used to.

Things I’m happy Drew took with him in the divorce:

  1. His hideous brown recliner.  You know the chair, the one that comes with you into your marriage.  You know it’s a bad idea to let him bring it with him, but you’re so happy to be pulling your separate lives together that you overlook that chair.  It might be a hand-me-down from his parents or he might have picked it up at the Salvation Army, but either way, it was part of his bachelor life and now it’s got memories.  Never mind the fact that it’s ugly as all get out, stained, and not even that comfortable anymore.  There’s no slipcover that’s going to make that lumpy excuse for furniture look respectable.  It doesn’t match anything else, and you just have to hope you have one of those man-cave rooms to hide it in, because it’s not going anywhere…until you get divorced, that is.
  2. His “collections.”  Beer steins, baseball cards, comic books, you name it.  The monetary value or the space it takes up is completely irrelevant.  The older his collection is, the more determined he is to keep it.  You can bet his mother can’t wait to get it out of her house.  I never saw Drew’s mom lifting such heavy stuff as the day she finally unloaded Drew’s boxes from their attic to ours.  Or maybe your man had a mother who threw out his stuff and he still resents her for it.  These are the ones to watch out for because if you so much as throw out an old receipt of theirs for a hot dog from a baseball game ten years ago, you’ve just discarded a piece of his life.
  3. His snoring.  I put up with it and I learned to sleep despite it, but wow, I’ve never slept so well in my life now that I’m single.  I can sleep on the left side of the bed, the right, or the middle, and there’s always room for me.  No one to snuggle up to, but at least it’s quiet and roomy.
  4. His clothes.  Clothes = laundry and some men never learned to unball their socks or take the stuff out of their pockets.  I’m already mom to two kids; did I really need to be his mom too.
  5. The love letters I wrote him.  I promised I’d love him forever, and of course I believed it.  Who doesn’t think their romance is the best, truest love the world has ever known?  I might be tempted to look back and get sentimental about old times I can’t recapture, but thankfully he’s removed the temptation.
  6. The petty resentment.  I spent a lot of time being mad at Drew for not doing the household things that I felt like he should be doing, such as taking the trash out, mowing the lawn, or fixing the broken vacuum cleaner.  Now there’s no one to nag but myself.  My “honey-do” lists are only for me, and I can check off the items or ignore them at will.
  7. His debt.  Some of it I was responsible for, but now that we’re divorced, what he does or doesn’t do financially can’t hurt me anymore.  There’s no one to negotiate with over what we can afford.  If I put something on the credit card, I know I’ll be the one paying for it.
  8. His pet snake, Lulubel.  Drew and his roommates bought a ball python during a drunken night of college partying, and somehow he inherited her by being last to move out of the guys’ apartment.  I will not miss weekly trips to the pet store to buy mice to sacrifice to Lulu, or the semi-regular dreams I had that she would escape and kill one of us in the night.

You might say this list sounds like sour grapes, but it gets me by on the days I miss being married, miss having the comfort of a spouse and someone to share all the joys and sorrows of life with.

What were you happiest to let go of when you and your spouse separated?

You can read more about my lists and my adventures with and without Drew in Giving Myself Away, available now.

GivingMyselfAwayCover

Available at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle format

Available at Barnes and Noble in paperback and Nook format

It’s just a day…

Adriennes blog 13 sunrise picHi, I’m Adrienne. 

Sometimes we get so caught up in wanting a special day to be perfect that we forget it’s just a day.

Before my ex-boss and now-friend Melanie got married, she stressed a lot about the details that go into the wedding day, sometimes to the point that she was unhappy to be planning a wedding at all.  Melanie’s a perfectionist and I’m not, but I wanted to tell her that the wedding would be great, even if a few things didn’t go as they were intended, and that the marriage that follows is way more important than the wedding day.  

We put a lot of effort into planning certain days and forget how important every day is.  I wanted to tell her to make every day with Frank a special day, and to never take marriage for granted because it’s a living thing that needs constant cultivation to survive.

My wedding day was a great day, but it wasn’t the best day of our marriage.  What a depressing thought that would be, if nothing in your marriage could top your wedding. Some of the best days of our marriage were just nothing-special days at home with the kids.  There were no pictures to capture those memories, no one to witness them, no fancy clothes to wear, but they were just as important as our wedding, if not more so.

Whether you’re preparing for your wedding or any other one of life’s milestones, remember that these may be memorable days in your life, but each one is just one of thousands of days you will have, and that every day or any day can be life-changing.  No matter what, it’s just a day.

You can enjoy Melanie’s wedding in Giving Myself Away.  Thanks for reading!

GivingMyselfAwayCover

Available at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle format

Available at Barnes and Noble in paperback and Nook format

I was a wife, but not a person

Adriennes blog 11 wedding rings picI remember being a newlywed and feeling for the first time like I had reached adulthood.  We shared money, closet space, and friends.  Where we went, what movies we watched, and even what we ate was by consensus.  I gave up my own identity, but I was glad to trade it in for “wife,” which I thought was the mature thing to do.

My engagement and wedding rings were badges I wore proudly to mark my status to the world.  “I am married!” they announced.  I marked “Mrs.” in the little online checkboxes.

As the years went on, the novelty of being “wife” wore off and was replaced by the day-to-day routines of married life.  Drew saw me with messy hair and no makeup and ugly pajamas and he loved me anyway, but I missed being “new” and having the chance to remake myself as I matured.  We didn’t talk about it, but it became apparent that he felt the same.

We gradually moved apart, each of us trying to be our separate selves within our marriage, wanting to be not just husband and wife, but man and woman.  Some people’s marriages are fluid enough to absorb the changes of its two partners as they mature over time, while others are too fragile to withstand anyone casting aside the roles that were set in stone the day they said “I do.”

The Lebanese writer and artist Kahlil Gibran said of marriage:

“…let there be spaces in your togetherness,

And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another but make not a bond of love;

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.”

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Drew and I got married and we got divorced.  You can read all about why we didn’t make it in Giving Myself Away.

Available at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle format

Available at Barnes and Noble in paperback and Nook format

If I get married again, I don’t want new dishes

Adriennes blog 6 mismatched dishes pic

If I get married again, I don’t want new dishes.  The first time I got married, everything had to be matching and new.  I remember taking that handheld scanner at the department store and zapping the things we wanted to add to our shiny married life – vases and plates and platters, beer glasses and grilling tools and gadgets.  All the right stuff would make us the perfect couple, charting a course together through housewares and beyond.  The first time I married, I was young and idealistic and unrealistic.  When things got broken, I believed they couldn’t be fixed.

If I get married again, I want a mishmash of mixed-up sets of plates from both of us, chipped and old, tokens of the perfect marriage we were supposed to have the first time.  Every day when I open my cabinet to pull out a cereal bowl or a coffee mug, I want to remember the hardships of life and where I’ve been.  I want us to sit at a table with jumbled place settings, plates and kids not matching but fitting together nonetheless.  I want to remember that I’m not perfect, he’s not perfect, we’re not perfect.

If I get married again, I’m going to appreciate what I have a whole lot more.  This time, I’ll know that cracked doesn’t mean unfixable.  I will know that the things that get cracked just need to be treated with greater care.

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