Why are we so afraid of divorce?

I was back to Shanghai for two weeks and had serval gatherings with my friends and colleagues. The major topic of our talk around a cup of coffee or a table full of varied dishes is to complain our miserable marriage life. “What’s new about our other classmates? Has anyone already got divorced?” this question, although with negative response, did trigger some compulsive comments on the sustainability of our own marriage.

For our partners and our parents, gossip, whether it relates to ourselves or others, was just a killing-time leisure for women. For us, it was also an effective remedy of our depression. One began to talk about the neglect of her husband in all fields, not only the chores, but also the education of the child, the concern of her feelings, the abusive absence at home. Another followed, adding that her child’s daddy was even worse. Then, it turned out a competition of describing the most miserable life that we have endured.

However, nobody mentioned the possibility of divorce. This unwillingness to reach such a solution is not a sign to undermine the validity of all complaints but an indicator of another bigger problem : we are so afraid of divorce, at least women, at least in China. Our parents already told us to endure the common disappointment of marriage life and have cited numerous examples witch ended deplorable. The devaluation of a divorced woman is especially huge and unworthy, affecting even the woman’s job and social relationship. Besides and after all,  we all give too much privilege to our children, whom we could never imagine suffering the mock of peers.

Then, after indulging ourselves into a storm of accusation, as if letting out all harmful energy, we began offering strategies to handle with a namely miserable life. Some showed their knowledge about make-ups, believing that a refreshing image of oneself can cheer up. Some asserted the importance of career performance, holding that having a respectable income is the basic guarantee of their independence. Some even swore to take vacation alone to gain more hope and optimism. All affirmed our need to have more friends and more hand-out.

Nobody suggested a talk with her husband nor a try to reshape the life style. We all don’t want a divorce, neither another chance to meet a better man, neither to negotiate a better way to handle the current indifference in family. Why? After nearly ten years being together, we all know so much about the other person lying on the same bad. We are all frightened by our potential power to declare the war.

But still, it’s so complicated to explain the fear of divorce which is torturing and tempting. In spite of our education background which emphasized  women’s freedom and self-sufficiency, even with a decent job and social position, we are ultimately determined by our own original family.  We grew up listening our mothers complain about our fathers. Sometimes, we would rather prefer their divorce in stead of suffering the constant stress in family. Nevertheless, we clearly remembered how many nights we refused to sleep because sacred by the idea of our parents’ divorce.

Now,  when we have reached such a period where the disappointment of our partner becomes daily, our mothers’ pessimism automatically activated us. Their fear of divorce was so deeply and dramatically rooted in our mind that we repeat unconsciously their stroy.

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Parenting Styles

The Brangelina broke up, frustrating so many young hearts who were almost likely to believe in marriage and in love. Why? For now, we only know that they have different styles of parenting. That must be a more acceptable reason for a divorce, compared to some extramarital affaires. But still why?  Didn’t they both affirm their equal love towards their 6 children?

It is a dilemma. People make decision in name of love while they hold different views of love. When it comes to parenting, things can easily be magnified, because we are making decision for our kids’ future, in name of a whole-life love. We might change our political views, but it’s not easy for us to change our beliefs of a good parenting style.

Yet, recently, Hidden Brain(NPR) has reveals that our political views might have been formed  by our parenting style, in other words, by our ideal of the family life and our ideal of how to prepare kids for the future. Republicans and Democrats all view the nation as a family, but apply different parenting models. Do American people need stricter parents or empathetic ones? After all, both sides believe they are doing good for the kids’ future.

Parenting is now bewildering and intimidating. I’m even surprised by myself borrowing a parenting guide book from the library. Am I consumed by curiosity or doubts? Having grasped some advocated golden rules, I unconsciously increased the chance of arguing with my husband. So when Angelina filed the divorce files, she would naturally be supported by most mothers, although they even didn’t care the details,”Oh, women definitely know better than men in parenting!”

In the name of love, I accused my husband of being rude to Claire. The most frequent example is how to deal with kid’s cry. I was patiently bearing the screaming while he wanted a immediate stop. For him, the discipline is vital and it can help to shape the right behavior. In fact, I hold my own views of discipline. While for me, Claire ought to make the bed daily, her daddy will let her skip some “meaningless” chores.

For a long time, I was so disappointed with the difference in our couple’s parenting styles, which were driven and formed by our own origin family patterns. But now I’m more relaxed, because I have discovered the benefit of the balance. We can not overprotect our children, neither ensure the harmony and homogeneity of the society that they will encounter. Claire loves me, even I’m so strict with her daily mission. She loves her daddy, even he sometimes shouts at her. Parenting doesn’t mean building up a fictional castle with endless happiness and pure love.

The other day, when she was clumsy in moving her bicycle out of the door, my husband lost patience and grumped at her. “You cannot do that to me! Stop!” Claire refuted, which made us stunned before turning into a big laughter. She was assertive and making right response.

The world is complex. What our kids are learning is so tremendous that any parenting could never ensure their safety and success in the future. Fortunately, we all value “family” and, in the name of family, we can tolerate differences and try to take advantage of the apparently unbearable disagreement.

Sacrifice

When I was young, I believed that love was pure and sacred. All those love stories where sacrifice was glorified had been touching me, shaping my own view of a perfect partner and guiding my behavior of being a lover.

Later, when it came to marriage, my mom reminded me that sacrifice was the most important quality as to maintain a long relationship. It is so common in our tradition that most women are proud of having put foreword the interest of their family or their children. For all kinds of reasons, we gave up our own dreams or ambitions. Unfortunately, the society takes it for granted.

Marriage is a long journey and love is a bewildering feeling. We need sacrifices and concessions to coordinate daily life and the long term family project. However, if we keep thinking that our motivation is selfless and that our action is a purely sacrifice, we will  soon or later encounter a stronger compulsive power, which rises from inside calling for justice. Of course, sacrifice can be rewarded. The problem is that we expect rewards so much while the moment of rewards is always delayed. Not mention that most of time there will be no sign of such expected rewards. The calculating of sacrifice from each partner, although in favor of the family’s future, undermines love, marriage, self-esteem, trust, intimacy and relationship with our children.

Now I hate this word”sacrifice”, delusive and poisonous. In every decision, I tell myself that what I will do is not a sacrifice waiting to be glorified and rewarded. What I will do is to give me another chance to impower myself, whether it is to increase my tolerance and patience or to boost my effectiveness and creativity.

A healthy love journey is not to direct a wonderful film where the main characters gain happiness and wealth while you are waiting years later to get the frame in the podium. As a family number, we should thrive with the other members, sharing the daily energy and joy.

So at the 8th anniversary of my marriage, I looked back all the important up and down moments and more detailed trifles in my life.

Congratulations! The success of this love journey is not represented by a positive answer from my husband to such naive questions : Do you still love me? Do you love me more? Do you remember and reward all my sacrifices?

I’m happy because my marriage has enabled me to meet a “better” Me.

That’s others’ Daddy

When dinning with the whole family of Claire’s friend Anna, I was surprised to learn that her daddy was their cook. Both parents work and they share the house chores.  It’s normal in U.S but appears so enviable for a traditional Chinese family, where the mother always does most of chores and ought to be responsible of their children’s education. Nowadays, since most of women work, families in China often involve the grandparents in the daily housework, especially including cooking and taking care of young children.

However, in big cities, when men seem take the situation for granted, women are easily disappointed with the absence of men in the family life. “He leaves all to me and doesn’t care anything.” It’s a common complaint when women get together, shrugging their shoulders. Although the family takes a smooth daily life, with all things done correctly, the wife tends to dream another life with a equal involvement in family from her partner.  We have forgotten the reason why we married our husband, his personality which charmed us, his quality as a man, by focusing on his failure of being a father and a partner. “I know many good daddies, but I had no luck, neither my daughter.” sighed one mom.”Me neither.” followed another.

Little by little, our partner has lost all other identities but “being a farther” and the deficient farther, while he still expects all qualities from his wife, as being a good lover, a good mother and a good cook. “Always busy, busy, do you notice me? ” it’s the common complaint from the married men,”how lucky you are! our parents help us a lot, you should appreciate it.”

The gap is forming and becomes sometimes too large to bridge, even with the conciliation intention. Sometimes, wives tried to convince their husband to commit more to the family, but the reasoning always went wrong:”Look, that’s a model daddy!” Sometimes, husbands tried to revive their lovers with an effort to point out another model. This only made the dialogue dead.

“That’s others’ daddy!” my friend gave up her hope.

Yes! That’s others’ daddy! Why should we talk about it? Why are we so obsessed with the comparison? Why do we stick to the word Daddy to name our lover? Why do we tend to star at others’ shinning point and imagine the opposite of our partner? That’s others’ daddy, not mine, not yours.

Every family is different and every one is different. We will never copy other family’s model in order to produce the happiness in our own family.