Several years ago, The Guardian printed some anecdotes from readers about the break-ups of their marriages. To say the stories were wide-ranging would understate things hugely. Recollections ran the spectrum from celebratory to matter-of-fact to heartbreaking.
One reader, a middle-aged Irish woman named Enda, practically exulted. “While I was totally knocked sideways by my husband’s unexpected departure, I came to realise that the situation presented an opportunity for me to focus on me and my own dreams. I moved back to Ireland from the UK, opened my chocolate business here, bought a house in the country, and I’ve never been happier … All my dramas are my own, not his. All my successes are my own, not his. All my happiness is my own, not his. My divorce has allowed me to arrive in my own life – and stay here comfortably with a smile on my face and a sense of gratefulness for my health, my happiness and my dream.”
Another divorcee, American-born Theresa, was more straightforward. “We mailed out a ‘divorce announcement’ card. The cover read, ‘To let you know that we have a new life apart …’ The picture was of two ships, one named ‘me’, the other ‘you’, traveling in different directions with a breaching whale between the two. The back of the card read, ‘What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.’ Reception to the card was mixed.”
And then came the sad experience of a young British woman who wished to remain anonymous: “I got divorced earlier this year after two years of marriage. For me, it came really out of the blue. My husband came home one night and told me that he had fallen in love with someone else; when I asked him if our marriage was over, he said, ‘Yes.’ And that was it. My parents came and picked me up and took me home. He moved in with her one week later. Finding out he had been unfaithful was a very surreal moment. He was the last person you’d expect to do that, and it sent shockwaves through our family…”