Quick! Can anyone tell me what event occurred thirty years ago today that made the news worldwide, and forever changed the landscape? If you said the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, you are correct. What an amazing, destructive display of science and nature.
Today also marks the 30-year anniversary of my marriage to Randy. Some have joked in retrospect that the destruction of a mountain might have been an omen of things to come with our marriage. However, the dissolution of a marriage is more complex than science and nature. Even so, the devastation of divorce is often not unlike the devastation witnessed in Washington early on that morning in May.
We live in an imperfect world, and divorce happens. With a few exceptions, I am by no means an advocate of divorce. Even without the obvious exceptions that make divorce "acceptable", many couples will fall into apathy, and without tender care and attention to what is really going on, trouble soon finds them. It seems easier to turn a deaf ear to the problem and live in denial than it is to face the issues head on and work on the problems. By the time both partners are willing to admit that problems exist, it is often too late.
Do I wonder how life would have been different without divorce? Of course I do. There would have been much ground to cover and many problems to overcome, and who knows how we would have ended up. I wonder, not so much for my sake, but for Whitney's sake, how things would be different. You know, I will never, ever say that I regret getting married. I was osmosed into the most wonderful family of in-laws and extended in-law relatives. I was blessed with the most precious love of my life, my daughter. What I lost in the divorce was years and years of closeness with those in-laws. It's not just a spouse you lose with divorce. I missed watching my neices grow up. I missed all the happy and sad occasions that go along with family. However, what I lost doesn't even compare to what Whitney lost by not having her daddy in her life every day. That is a demon that has haunted me for 18 years. How would her life have been different? Though there have been decisions that I would have made differently for her, it is also impossible to regret some of those decisions because the result is two beautiful grandchildren, whom I cannot imaging living without. Still, over the years, I have wondered.
I consider myself extremely blessed that through the years, my relationship with my in-laws has been restored, and I have cherished each moment. Sometimes I tend to get a little emotional when we're all together, when I think of all the years I missed. Losing the family is often more difficult than losing the marriage. I'm so glad to have my family back, even if in a reduced capacity.
To my married friends, love your spouse. This entails more than saying "I love you." More than flowers and chocolates for Valentine's Day. More than physical union. This entails listening, being sensitive, encouraging, putting the other person's needs before your own. And, of tantamount importance, if your partner voices concern over "issues" or "problems", do not ignore it!!! Even if you think YOU don't have a problem. Believe me. If your spouse has a problem, then YOU have a problem. Tend to it early. If you can't fix it on your own, get help. It doesn't make you less of a person to admit that there are problems, and that you can't fix it on your own. Don't wait until the side of the mountain is ready to explode to address it.
Today you can visit the Mt. St. Helens National Park. My parents went there years ago, and say that even now the devastation is evident, and the landscape is forever scarred. I believe that's what happens with divorce. We can go on with our lives, and new growth can emerge. Hopefully we will be able to come to peace with our choices and accept the consequences. However, scars remain, and lives (not just those of the divorced couple) are forever changed.
Cool Mt. St. Helens Video