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Another Kind of Single by March Gunderson

Standing in the self-help section of the bookstore at the age of 49, looking for a book on divorce, I felt conspicuous, desperate and in a state of disbelief.  I wished that I were invisible.

 Once before,  years  earlier, I had become unexpectedly and painfully single because of my husband’s death.  The role of a widow seemed somehow more honorable. Death was clear cut;  divorce was not.  This is the trajectory no one wants their life to take.  Being divorced seemed shameful, tainted with regrets and uncertainty. 

Everyone knows that marriage takes daily attention and work. My second husband and I had managed this for many years but eventually we saw that we could not maintain it for a lifetime.  We became aware of the destructive nature of our life together.  What had been for us the joy of meals, conversation, games of hide and seek, appreciation of the moon and one another had eventually dissipated into disappointment and despair.  As much as each of us loved our son, we could see that our marriage relationship was draining our home of its life-giving quality for him – and for us.

To embark on the path of divorce required courage and a great deal of discernment.  For us, it wasn’t an easy way out; it was a necessary one.  While we were divorcing each other, we were clear about the need to remain connected in order to parent our son well. The losses we all sustained were many.

 I believe that our communities have the capacity to support us all--those who are married, those who are divorced, those who have never married, and those who are widowed.  We all make choices and life happens to all of us.  Whether we are coupled or single, it is our responsibility and our privilege to live a life that speaks of energy and hope, a life that is rich and makes room for meaning.  For me, in the various ways I have lived, the one clear and unchanging factor has been my faith.  My belief system may shift, but my faith has remained a constant.  I have been strengthened and supported in times of scarcity and times of plenty.  I give thanks for this and for those who were there with me when I needed someone to listen and care.

In retrospect, if I could speak to that woman who stood in the bookstore feeling so anxious years ago, I would tell her that, yes, there are books that might be helpful -- Passionate Marriage by Snarch, Hold Me Tight by Johnson, Anxious to Please by English and Rapson, and The Good Divorce by Aarons.  In addition to that, I would advise her to get some exercise each day, try to eat decently and suggest that she would benefit from entering into a practice of daily prayer and meditation.

 May God bless us all in all.

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