‘We Love Each Other So Much, We’re Getting Divorced’
“We have lovingly chosen to separate as a couple. We fell deeply in love so many years ago and have had a magical journey together. Absolutely nothing has changed about how much we love one another, but love is a beautiful adventure that is taking us on different paths for now. There are no secrets nor salacious events at the root of our decision — just two best-friends realizing it’s time to take some space and help each other live the most joyous, fulfilled lives as possible. We are still a family and will always be loving dedicated parents to Everly. … Chan&Jenna”
This was the announcement given by Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan recently.
We’re meant to read that and let out a gentle, “Aww, that’s too bad. Well, good for them.” We’re meant to marvel at their mature deliberation and open-mindedness, at their enlightened understanding of love and relationships and individual journeys. We’re meant to applaud their courage in taking such a positive, self-affirming step.
It’s pure poppycock. Absolute nonsense. Total rubbish.
This is Not Love
There’s a dangerous philosophy lurking here that goes way beyond Channing and Jenna personally. What Channing and Jenna are doing is not loving or brave or beautiful. Repeat: this is not love.
Love never leads us to break apart our family. Love never leads us to abandon our marriage vows. It never tells us our beautiful journey together is at an end and now it’s time to go our separate ways even though we still love each other and even though we promised we’d be together ’til death.
Each parent is half of who the child is. When the parents reject each other, they are rejecting half of the child.
— Jennifer Roback Morse, from the Foreword of Primal Loss
(We are not talking here about truly abusive marriages and relationships in which people are in danger, so don’t even go there.)
Love never ever ever leads us to take a wrecking ball to our child’s home and family. Channing and Jenna have a daughter who will now bear the multi-faceted lifelong wound of a broken family, thanks to her parents’ “love.”
Don’t believe that? Listen to the adults who told their stories of how their parents’ divorce really affected them, and consider why every single one of them spoke only on condition of anonymity. Read Primal Loss: The Now-Adult Children of Divorce Speak.
The Narrative is a Lie
The popular narrative — a narrative that Channing and Jenna no doubt believe and count on — says that their little girl will understand. That as long as her parents are happy, she’ll be happy. Kids are resilient. She’ll be just fine.
Here’s the reality of what divorce teaches: Love ends. You can love someone today and not love them tomorrow. Love sometimes means you leave the person you say you love, because it’s better for you. The journey is magical, but only for a while. Nothing is secure or dependable or lasting.
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Divorce teaches us the vows we made yesterday are not binding on tomorrow. Nobody really means it when they say “’til death us do part.” You fall deeply in love, but it’s fickle and temporary. It comes swiftly and strongly, then goes with a whimper and a shrug.
This is a destructive, empty, and twisted version of love that bears no resemblance at all to the genuine article. To claim that love compels you to forsake your promises and your spouse is a truly seductive fiction.
What Vows? What For?
This is also a warped and empty view of marriage. Marriage in our society has been reduced to simply a celebration of feelings. It’s only logical that marriage can end when the feelings change. The lynch-pin is still “my happiness,” so if the marriage is no longer serving my happiness, then it’s time to take it all apart and move on.
This pseudo-love just doesn’t jibe with vows. It seems more like couples playing house until one or both of them decides their journey is taking them elsewhere. They should just be honest with each other up front: Admit that once the feelings change, they’ll change their “agreement.”
Channing and Jenna’s statement insist they are best friends and their love for each other has not changed. Why must they divorce? Whatever they say, love has nothing to do with it.
Their statement speaks poetically of their desire to help each other live joyous, fulfilled lives. Does it not occur to them that for their daughter to live her most joyous and fulfilled life, she needs her parents together under the same roof, keeping the vows they made to each other? That she needs her family intact? They want joyous, fulfilled lives for themselves, but their daughter gets a fractured life.
If I knew where to send it, I would gladly mail Channing and Jenna each a copy of Primal Loss. I pray they’d both be brave enough to read it and cancel their divorce. Love isn’t leading them to abandon their marriage. Love is calling them to be faithful, for worse or for better.