(I’m no grammar shark, but I *believe* that “affecting” is the proper word in the title, right? Not ‘effecting’. If I’m wrong, someone please **politely** correct me and I’ll fix it, ok?)
A few weeks ago, I received an email inviting me to be part of an affiliate program for a website that specializes in providing a sort of ‘DIY divorce’ service. Assuming that I was likely sent a form email that was sent to any bloggers listed as writing about marriage-related topics, I just ignored it.
But a week or so later, a second email came through from them, reminding me again about signing up for their affiliate program.
Anyone who’s read my blog for any length of time – of even just poked around to my About Me section – can probably pick up on the fact that I’m a big advocate of working through the hard times of marriage. And that I’m not really a supporter of divorce whenever it’s possible to avoid it.
So I probably could’ve just deleted that second email too. And then moved on with my life.
But…… apparently something stuck with me about the email, and….. I didn’t delete it.
Or move on with my life.
See, I didn’t like the way the email and website worded the topic of divorce. It made divorce seem too easy of an out, too typical of an expectation that most couples would eventually reach. An “About” section showcased how the founder was a product of divorced parents, how she was a divorcee herself, and all the years she’s worked as a successful divorce attorney.
It almost made it seem that getting a divorce was like joining a club. I mean, everyone else is divorcing, right? And hey, see how we appear so happy and successful now – well now you can be just like us too; join the divorce club!
There was zero support for struggling marriages.
– No “Not sure if you’re ready to divorce? Click here for some marriage resources to help you wade through this difficult time.”
– No “Need help in your relationship? Click here to be connected to a therapist who can help you decide if it’s worth staying in your marriage.”
– No “If you have children together, here are some additional things you might want to take into consideration before deciding to end your marriage.”
Nothing. Even though the website claimed to encourage “amicable” dissolutions, it felt little more than a money-making scheme taking advantage of couples already feeling lost and directionless about their relationship.
I decided to send them an email.
Because apparently I sometimes do things like that.
Here are some excerpts from the email:
[bold, underlining, and other formatting for emphasis for this blog post only and were not in the original email]
…if a couple is amicable enough to work through [website] on their own to facilitate their divorce, then I feel that they are likely amicable enough to work out the troubles in their marriage too, if they put forth the effort required.
I’ve personally seen far too many marriages end in divorce because giving up seemed easier in that moment than working to make their relationship better for the long run. I’ve also known many couples who… chose to fight to make their marriage work…. And I’ve seen the joy and love that can return to a marriage after the storms of life.
…I attribute the #1 success factor in marriage to simply: Removing the thought of divorce from your mind. As soon as you plant the seed of divorce in your mind, you’ll water it each and every time you find yourself dissatisfied with a current moment in your relationship…
Sorry for the soapbox here, and maybe you’ve already deleted this email so there’s no point in this writing, but I can’t sit idly back and pretend that I don’t see the harm… that [website] brings to already-struggling marriages. If you really want to offer hope, team up with marriage counselors or others who truly care about couples and their relationships… instead of trying to make an easy buck off of struggling couples who don’t know where to turn but wish there was someone who could truly help them.
Easy outs are not true help.
I didn’t expect that I’d actually get a response. I assumed my words would disappear into the nothingness of the internet and forgotten for all time.
But, um, surprisingly, I DID get a response.
[Bold is mine.]
I want to first thank you for taking the time to respond to our email. I would like to say yes we do help couples separate but our true mission is empowering them to be much more amicable with one another, We help couples who are going through this difficult time get the resources, information, and help that they need to learn about divorce and other options such as reconciliation. We really do work to preserve the family relationships pre and post divorce and we are always looking for influential people like yourself that can help with the amicable movement.
… I hope that there is some time this week or next week where we can connect and I would love to get on the phone to talk about how we can help more families. Once again, thank you for taking the time to respond and I really do appreciate your feed. Have a great day.
Sure enough, a week later, I spent a productive and enjoyable half hour on the phone with this guy from the ‘DIY divorce’ website.
We talked not only of improvements I felt they could make to the landing page of their website, but also ways they could better offer resources to couples who maybe weren’t ready to consider divorce. On top of this we talked about marriage in general, as the guy I spoke with is currently engaged. He’d said he’d actually read some of my marriage posts (which was cool and unexpected), and I encouraged him that marrying “young”-ish can be a wonderful thing, and how if anything, working for a divorce company might give him and his fiancee topics for discussion of ways not to fall into the traps of certain relationship struggles.
All in all, it was a surprisingly great conversation. I’m really thankful that he took the time to connect with me. It might not make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things – but either way, it would never have happened at all had:
a) I not felt compelled to respond to the initial email, and
b) he not chanced to email me back.
The other night, KP and I went on a date night. Yes, like a real – official – date. Babysitter, restaurant, show. All that. I was to meet KP after work, so the plan was for me to take a Lyft to the restaurant and then we’d ride home after the show together.
During the half hour ride ‘over the hill’ and and through Hollywood Bowl traffic, the Lyft driver and I carried on conversation. Somehow we got to talking about marriage. He and his wife got married around the same time as KP and I, and what started off as polite joking about putting up with a spouse for a decade of marriage, turned into more of a marriage pep talk. I found myself encouraging the driver in his marriage, telling him about the hard times we’ve had too, and how things have gotten better recently for us, and how there’d once been a time I felt like we could’ve given up, and that the only thing that got us through was our commitment to marriage, no matter what.
I suppose this is not a normal conversation to have with a Lyft driver. But it just kind of all came out, and so I just kept talking. Who knows? Maybe he needed to hear all that right then. Maybe not. Maybe he was just carrying on the conversation I was carrying on. Maybe it was nothing more than that. Either way, it’s out there in the world now.
But hey, all we can do is what we can from where we are, right? And then leave the rest to hope that something good comes out of it all?
I’m trying to do what I can in this world to make a difference. Maybe if more of us cared to affect the smaller moments, we’d all end up making a bigger difference…not just in marriage, but also in others’ lives?
Maybe? Maybe not?
I don’t know for sure what effect I can have in the world, but at least I know that I try.