Friday, July 17, 2009


When you teach language courses, you often have to get together with your colleagues who teach a different section of the same course to plan tests and exams. One of the teachers in my group once came up with the following dialogue which the students were supposed to read and fill in the blanks:
A female professor is talking to her future employer (the dialogue is supposed to take place in Havana):
The Dean: What is your marital status?
Prof. Rodriguez: I'm divorced.
The Dean: Oh, I'm so sorry!
Of course, I had to take exception to this way of framing divorce as some kind of a necessarily sad event that should provoke condolences from any one who hears about it. I suggested that "The Dean" in the story had no right to pronounce a judgment on whether the divorce was a bad thing for this particular person. What if she sees is at as a positive stage in her life? What if she welcomes it as part of her growth as an individual? What's if she is very happy about it?
Most people in our society don't spend their entire lives with one individual. And there's nothing tragic about that. Human beings have a tendency to grow and change and sometimes two people simply don't grow in the same direction. It's much sadder, in my opinion, when people who realize that they have no love or sexual desire left for each other still stay together and torture themselves and each other in a relationship neither of them needs any more.
As a divorced person, I have encountered this annoying attitude quite a few times. Now, when people ask about my marital status I always say that I'm happily divorced. This allows me to avoid observing the expression of fake pity the divorced individuals always encounter when they talk about their divorce.

1 comment:

Tom Carter said...

Excellent point! Being divorced myself (more than once), I've encountered the same kinds of reactions. Given that divorce is so common, I sometimes wonder if many of those who express sadness view their own divorces the same way.