There’s a common saying that marriages are made in heaven. But if they’re made in heaven, why do some of them feel like hell?
For many people, it’s a struggle to get married, and it’s also a struggle to stay married. That’s why the divorce rate keeps rising. In some countries, it’s almost 100 percent. If your marriage lasts longer than the toaster you received, consider yourself lucky.
The divorce rate in Portugal is 94 percent, according to the Global Index. It’s almost impossible to stay married in Portugal, whether you’re low-income, middle-class or a divorce attorney.
The divorce rate in Spain is not far behind 85 percent. In fact, in almost all Western countries, the divorce rate is higher than 40 percent, according to the Global Index.
I’m not sure how the Global Index determines a country’s divorce rate, but perhaps they send representatives to a public place and see what percentage of adults are smiling. The ones who are smiling are divorced.
Trust me, some of the happiest people in the world are divorced. You’d be happy too if you just got divorced from the worst person in the world. Of course, there are plenty of nominees for the title of “worst person in the world,” but millions of people around the globe would bestow it upon the person they once loved. And many would bestow it upon a former in-law they once tolerated.
But even when a marriage is terrible — when your spouse or your in-laws mistreat you — going through a divorce isn’t easy. And being divorced may make you feel like a failure: you failed to keep your marriage intact or failed to recognize the idiot you were marrying. But as far as I know, there is no guaranteed formula for a successful marriage. Sure, there are certain guidelines you can follow, such as these:
- Do not marry someone who has been convicted of murder. This may seem obvious, but lots of people believe in redemption and second chances. I do too, but if Aunt Sima, the Netflix matchmaker, were advising someone on a potential relationship with a felon who has turned his life around, she would say, “Marriage is for life, and you better run for yours!”
- Do not marry someone who listens to country music. Actually, it’s perfectly okay if they listen to country music, as long as they use earphones. If they blare it in your home, most judges would consider that grounds for divorce.
- Do not marry someone who never stops talking about themselves. It’s definitely a red flag if you ask them about their values, and they can’t stop talking about their stocks and Bitcoin.
Even when everything seems perfect, when all the boxes are checked, marriages can fail. Divorce can be messy and painful, but quite often, it’s the only path to happiness.
In some cases, when two people are just not right for each other, divorce should be welcomed, perhaps even celebrated. That’s why I was pleased to read about the baarat (procession) that an Indian man named Prem Gupta organized for his daughter. He welcomed her home after her divorce with a procession that featured drums, firecrackers and motorcycles. A video he posted on Facebook showed his daughter pulling her suitcase behind her, as she was hugged by relatives
“When your daughter’s marriage is done with great pomp and show and if the spouse and family turns out to be wrong or does wrong things, then you should bring your daughter back to your home with respect and honor because daughters are very precious,” Gupta wrote.
Among the many responses online, one person wrote, “Salute to the great father. … Many best wishes for the daughter for a new beginning.”
A new beginning. That’s what divorce brings for many people. Another chance to get it right.
Except, perhaps, in Portugal.