Certainly not; your wedding wasn’t. Let me try and explain, but first let me say what prompted me to write this blog. I’ll make it short. I recently talked to the parents of a couple who was about to get divorced and they said: “We cannot do anything about it. It’s their business and their private life. They are adults and we do not want to interfere.”
If no one bothers to “interfere”, there will be all sorts of traumas, inconveniences, changes and expenses for all involved: the couple themselves, parents, friends, colleagues, employees, and employers, etc., etc. In short, everyone with whom the couple comes in contact. People take sides and it causes a ripple effect of broken friendships, hurt feelings, much gossip, and so on. As you can see, this is far from being a ”private matter”, although it may seem that way at first sight.
In the past, when people lived in extended families separations and divorces were rare. The couple’s family felt responsible for their relationship. A couple could not behave any way they “felt like it” because there were always witnesses to pass judgment on their behavior. It is clear who is the one messing up a marriage. Friends and family somehow think they are not responsible for the well being of the couple’s relationship. It is so easy to shed the responsibility. People often forget – or they never knew in the first place – that weddings are meant for the guests to witness the wedding vows and keep the couple accountable and remind them of “until death do us part”. You are not invited to a wedding to eat, drink and have a good time only. Certain responsibilities come with it if you are a friend or a family.
So, as you can see, the responsibility for the success of a marriage is on both sides: the couples, and on their family and friends. When a couple is alone and isolated as a “nuclear family”, and when it comes to a break-up most people immediately take sides with one partner or the other instead of taking a stand for the marriage itself. I’m not saying that all couples must stay together no matter what, but my experience as a relationship coach with thousands of people, tells me that there are very few reasons that may justify a break up: abuse for one. However, most people break up for reasons such as an urge to be right, justifying one’s actions and invalidating the other’s, a wish to dominate or avoid domination of marital responsibilities, being needy, having an inflated picture of their own contribution in the partnership, etc. All of these are personality issues that, if a person is willing, can be easily isolated and dealt with. People are always so ready to blame others and at the same time be totally unaware of their own actions and shortcomings and what is even worse, being in total denial of it.
Friends and family hear only one side of the story when the going gets rough and often don’t know or don’t dare to ask questions that may open a person’s eyes to their own actions (or more often inactions) that might have caused the problem. So, instead of being supporters for their relationships they become accomplices to the break up.
On the other hand, a couple often does not ask for help until it’s almost too late, or ask for help in the wrong places, with people who will unconditionally agree with their version of the whys, the hows and the whos, not bothering to find out if there is more to it than meets the eye.
In conclusion: separation is not a private affair. All involved should take responsibility for the failure of a relationship. And, yes, if you know them, you ARE involved. And if a couple thinks that their break up is their own business, think again. You are not alone in this world; you may be screwing up someone else’s life as well, not only your own. It is time to grow up, become an adult, whatever that means to you. Stop pointing fingers at others and see what you can do because you are the only person you can have control over. Do not worry about your partner since he/she will react to you as she/he always has done in the past and is doing so in the present.