What Watching My Parent’s Divorce Taught Me About Real Happiness

Nikolai Ulltang

After 30 years of marriage, my parent’s relationship crumbled to the ground.

It started with my father’s betrayal to not only my mother, but our entire family. He was having an affair with a family friend. My mother found out only because she happened to glimpse at his phone one night when a message notification lit up his screen. It was a downward spiral from that moment forward. He refused to admit any responsibility and even blamed my mother, saying she’s been “cold” to him for the past decade. It was a confusing time for my siblings and I, watching our parents slowly start to hate each other with each passing day. Things soon started to come into perspective. I began to realize how not suited they were for each other.

I started to remember stories of their early years, like how my father gave my mother an ultimatum; either they get married or he leaves her. My father would brag about how he would date numerous women at a time when he was young. He spoke proudly about how some of the women would find out he was cheating, and get unforgivably upset. My mother would tell me stories about how he would constantly pressure her to do things she wasn’t really interested in.

After the affair, it was revealed to me that they were unhappy together for a long time. My father seemed to be the type who should have never married in the first place. He became very unhappy not being able to do what he wants when he wants. And my poor mother’s heart was split in two. They both ended up very hurt and they dragged the rest of the family down with them.

They married because it was the thing to do. It was how their parents and their grandparents before them made a life. It was just another stepping stone in their life that needed to be completed.

We live in a society where after a certain age, a silent pressure is put upon our shoulders to get married. Whether we realize it or not, we seek out others to date out of fear of being alone. I now believe that this is the recipe for a toxic relationship. We start to date people that aren’t right for us. They make us feel uncomfortable, they raise red flags and we feel unhappy. Yet we dismiss the warning signs and push forward because we’re afraid of the future.

I’m sure happy, healthy, long term marriages exist, but I also believe those marriages are few and far between. About 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. The main cause is because too many people end up marrying for the wrong reasons, just like my mom and dad.

I came to the conclusion that I would much rather be happy and alone, than in a relationship with someone I’m secretly unhappy with. I may not end up on the traditional road most people take, i.e. going to school, getting a job, getting married, having children… but tradition is not the path to contentment. Every secular individual is unique in their own ways. To shove every single person down one narrow path to happiness is ridiculous.

It’s ok to not get married.

It’s ok to not have children, go to college, or achieve a high paying job. You have to look inward and find out what really makes you happy and take that journey, not one that society sets for us. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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