I can hear the children of single parents sighing everywhere around the country, but bear with me please, guys.

Okay, I know the spiel. I know it hurt and made you feel weird as a child, or like you did something wrong. And I know that it sucked to not see both parents at the same time like all your friends seemed to. But the reality is that your parents were unhappy. Fundamentally so. There may have even been legal or physical reasons – reasons of danger to the parent or yourself – that led to the change. Things happen. People fall in love. It stands to reason that they can fall out of love too. It doesn’t make them bad people, and we should stop stigmatising divorce.

Besides, remember those parents that were together that you thought were perfect?

One of them hit your friend. Others were so unhappy with each other that they did stupid things. Things that they couldn’t take back. Then things escalated and the police came over and your 7 year old selves didn’t really understand why there were so many bruises and so many reports of Sarah’s mum ‘falling down the stairs’. You don’t remember even having seen her drop a fork, let alone stumble down stairs, but you can chalk that up to things you didn’t realise were happening when you were younger.

These relationships often have tells too. Often, everyone in the room knows where the relationship is headed, and the couple are the last to realise for themselves. Beware the couple that can’t be alone together, or run out of conversation in large groups. Or controlling, one-sided relationships. The most modern-age issue – the insta relationship. It’s all smiles in the profile picture but the tagged posts and backgrounds of your friends’ pictures reveal quite a different, frowny story.

Silence is never good either.

Particularly if it’s one person talking over or silencing the other.

Companionable silence is one thing, but enforced silence is a slippery slope to divorce. And that’s okay – divorce is often the necessary response to a failing relationship, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. It is what is standing in your way of happiness.

I think divorce is something that we understand more when we grow up. When we have our first relationship, and when that first relationship ends. Experiencing heartbreak and pain and the complex spectrum of human emotions and co-dependency. Things aren’t just either sunshine and daisies or doom and gloom. Just because we’re smiling or look like things are fine, doesn’t mean that’s the truth. 

Divorce is just the acceptance that something was wrong, and therefore the relationship ended, no more, no less.

There is nothing that it’s pretending to be. After all, the strain of a fake relationship will reveal itself in more ways than one eventually. Lots of people will hang together ‘for the children’. But ask yourself, if the child grows up hiding under the table when arguments happen, or thinking that constant fighting is natural or right or healthy. That’s when we get problems. We accidentally raise our children with the wrong values even in the effort to protect them. Invariably, more than just the couple in questions stand to get hurt. 

Trust yourself enough to walk away

We all have those moments of doubt and insecurity in relationships. That’s inevitable. Humans aren’t infallible, nor should they be. If everyone was just robotic and said exactly what we were meant to say, where would the fun and surprise of life be? That said, we also acclimatise to toxic environments which aren’t good for us.

We need to be better at recognising that we deserve better than what we sometimes get. Often, we might be investing more of ourselves and putting our time on the line for a relationship that isn’t being reciprocated in the same way. also, we often feel guilt for thinking about stepping away from such relationships, as though we are withdrawing a service that we ‘owe’ another person. We don’t owe people anything in this world, not inherently. Not if they’re not giving us the same in return, it’s just not emotionally sustainable.

You end up expending and exhausting yourself and having nothing left for yourself. 

Therefore, we need to recognise and relearn our power to say ‘no’ and mean it. Or to tell the people around us what we need when we need it. We don’t need to become dictators or totalitarians to do this, or to control the relationship, we just need to have an active and equal part in it. If we want to know where the relationship is headed, that’s perfectly within our rights. Should your partner not be on the same page as you, that’s fine – but that’s the signal to leave the relationship. If you explicitly do not have a future there, then you’re both wasting each other’s time and effort, and making things harder for yourself in the long term. 

You aren’t selfish for leaving a relationship, even if there are other parties involved. Your life shouldn’t be constantly on hold just because there are children involved, or friends or a contentious situation. If you’re unhappy, you have to start to work on that straight away. Children of divorced parents aren’t unilaterally worse off than those whose parents stayed together. Wouldn’t you rather your parents were happy, even if that wasn’t with each other anymore? How is living in a house with constant fighting or tension preferable to a more open, communicative environment? It’s not. 

I’ll say it again: you are worth more than your current relationship might have you believe. 

So, forget society, and get that divorce that your relationship is begging for.