Together Apart

I am not a fan by any means of reality television, so it took me a few minutes to realize who Kristin Cavallari was when she appeared in my newsfeed under the heading “Kristin Cavallari and Jay Cutler Divorcing After 10 Years”.

Normally, I would not pay these posts all that much attention.

I mean, why is a celebrity divorce any different than the millions of other divorces that are occurring every day in the world?

What struck me with this particular headline was the image that was depicted along with the words; an Instagram photo of the couple walking away from the camera hand in hand. It got me to thinking, maybe celebrity divorces are different in a way, or perhaps they just paint that illusion. Then I read the posting that Ms. Cavallari wrote and it’s been on my mind for the last couple of days.

I hope she doesn’t mind me quoting her here because something about her post just really struck a chord with me and has inspired me to write this morning. The text of her post is this:

“With great sadness, after 10 years together we have come to a loving conclusion to get a divorce. We have nothing but love and respect for each other and are deeply grateful for the years shared, memories made, and the children we are so proud of. This is just the situation of two people growing apart. We ask everyone to respect our privacy as we navigate this difficult time within our family.” ~ Kristin Cavallari

OK, the cynic in me looks at this and thinks, probably written by some PR firm to protect the reputations of both parties involved in the split, as is probably the case with many celebrity breakups, but for the sake of argument, I’m going to take this one at face value and believe that it’s a genuine statement coming from the couple. That being said, what a beautiful way to end a long term relationship, with love and respect.

I’d be lying if I said divorce wasn’t weighing heavily on my mind these days, not merely as I navigate the challenges with my own relationship but as I learn about friends going through some of the same struggles.

I touched upon one of those stories the other day with my article “Dirty Laundry”.

My own visions of divorce are unfortunately not quite the loving and respectful image painted in this Instagram post, but much more the painful, turbulent, angry image presented in the Facebook post from my friend the other day, and believe me I get it.

When a marriage ends as the result of lying and cheating and betrayal, it’s such a traumatic event that walking away holding hands probably isn’t exactly in the cards. More often than not, I’d imagine just summoning up the strength to be in the same room together is challenging enough. But what if it didn’t have to be this way?

I think maybe it comes down to courage, something so many of us are lacking in our relationships. The courage to admit when things are no longer working for one or both parties and the courage to maybe be a little selfish and do what’s best for you which sometimes means walking away.

How many relationships remain intact long after the couple has found themselves growing further and further apart because one or both parties simply can’t muster up the courage to have an honest conversation? How many times do couples just continue to kick that can further and further down the road?

I have been hearing the phase “Together Apart” a lot recently during this pandemic, but for me the real “Together Apart” are these relationships that are being maintained out of some sense of obligation, safety or security. Maybe you remain with your partner for the sake of the children, the finances, insurance. Let’s face it, marriage is a contract that you enter into with another human being. Sure we often attach this notion of love to it, but ultimately it’s a business arrangement, and sometimes the best-intended business plans simply fail.

I have reached a stage in my own relationship where I’m going to need to summon this courage, this strength to start having some hard conversations with my wife.

It’s hard enough walking away from a relationship, but when it’s a relationship you’ve been in since you were both teenagers that’s lasted 30 years, three children, illness, death, heartache, love, laughter, and most of all friendship, reaching the conclusion to possibly end this relationship is maybe the most frightening thing ever.

Fear of making a mistake, destroying your friendship, hurting your family and ending up very much isolated and alone. No wonder so many of us just stay where we are, I mean who has the courage to face all that? It’s overwhelming, but it’s also part of being an adult, making difficult choices and sometimes taking risks to better your life and the lives of those around you, knowing the path won’t be an easy one.

At the end of the day, I don’t want to “Leave” my wife. Maybe I want to leave the marriage and change the roles we play in each others lives, but she will always have a role in my life as hopefully I will in hers. Just because we have grown apart doesn’t mean we need to vanish from each other’s lives. We still have three amazing daughters to raise together and the memories we have made from a 30-year relationship and hopefully, we can find a way to walk away, hand in hand, with love still in our hearts, hopefully….

If only it were that simple…

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Photo credit: Mason Hassoun on Unsplash