I’m six. We are in Palm Springs. He plays Marco Polo with me as she watches in oval shaped sunglasses reclining in her lounge chair. She smiles. He smiles back. They share a moment of happiness, of love and then it vanishes into a distant memory.
I’m eight years old. I can hear them downstairs yelling. It’s 9 p.m. on a Tuesday and I just finished my homework. The booming echo of their voices and violent clamor of dishes as they hit the hardwood floor. They are arguing. Again.
I’m eleven. We are at a parent-teacher conference. They disagree on whether I need a math tutor. The bickering begins. She nags him, he belittles her and the cycle continues. I’m left. Mr. Broomberg and I sit in silence as they quarrel outside.
I’m sixteen. They are finally apart. The yelling is now only over the phone and conflict is at least at a distance. They don’t hold hands. They don’t speak. They hate and that’s okay with them.
I am not alone in these memories that childhood has poignantly left me to piece together as an adult.
The United States Divorce rate concurs that 50% of marriages end in divorce. 50% of children experience similar scenarios to mine. 50% of couples walk down the aisle, say their vows, wear puffy white dresses and still believe that their love is real. So why believe in this mythical thing called love if so many marriages fail?
I am a child of divorce. And yet, here are 5 reasons why your parent’s divorce can make your belief in love stronger:
Love is Chemistry
Love is a neurological and physical response to someone else. It is the release of chemicals and hormones such as: testosterone, norepinephrine, serotonin, oxytocin, vasopressin, dopamine and estrogen. Science cannot be argued with. These are cold, hard, biological facts.
Love is Selfless
Love is rubbing your partners feet after a 12-hour workday. It is bringing home dinner, kissing a forehead or cradling someone as they cry. It is the one feeling that can make an incredibly selfish species (AKA humans) – completely selfless. It is self-sacrificing. You are no longer a “me” but instead a “we”.
Love is Free
Love is inherently free. It cannot be sold, bought or swapped. You can’t make someone love you. It cannot be legislated or imprisoned. It is not a product or power source. It is a free trade of emotions that come with no stipulations, agendas or codes.
Love is Committing
In a generation full of instant gratification, love enables commitment. It is blind and does not succumb to right swipes on Tinder or superficial guarantees. It allows people to nurture and develop relationships. It builds upon experience and solidifies a bond that simply cannot be broken.
Love is Compromise
Love is ordering Chinese takeout when you really want Domino’s. It is the ability to compromise what you want for what someone else might need. The adjustment and careful consideration of another person’s point of view, preference or prospective. Love is a flea market bargain with bartering and negotiating the price of pleasure.
Although there were broken dishes and tearful nights, my search to believe in this fairy tale feeling called love was no longer a myth I wished to disprove. That relationships aren’t always rainbows and butterflies. They require self-sacrifice and Chinese takeout. They are compromising and committing.
Love is real and although there is a 50% chance I might fail — I’ll still believe otherwise. I am a child of divorce. And yet, I’m willing to believe in the mystical magic of love.