[Guest post by Nick Sutton, 17 May 2021]
Maybe splitting up after 22 years together isn't so much a failed relationship as a relationship that ran its course. Maybe families aren't necessarily always permanent?
Maybe families can also be temporary groups which gather together for a common purpose and go their own way when the group is no longer needed.
Like many of my friends from school, who are still my friends, but that feeling that we were bonded like a family has faded over time. I still love and care for them and wish them the best, but also probably wouldn’t lay my head in their lap and say “pet me” if we hung out again. . . Because we're not THAT close anymore.
Maybe two people can come together to have kids, and raise those kids to the best of their ability, and maybe, like teenagers, they also change and grow and discover they want and need new/different things in their lives, and that change can be natural and healthy, and it’s not so much a “failed marriage” as a “completed marriage.” You came together to accomplish your goal, and ultimately decided to do something else.
Maybe instead of expecting people to become adults, date for a while, marry, have kids, raise kids, retire, and die all connected to the same familial unit, we can begin to approach the idea that this is a new era in our understanding of the family, and that a person will have many families through their life, some platonic and some romantic and none of it is really a failure, as it is just the natural course.
My point is, that as people continuously rethink the concept of relationships, and the many forms they can take, it might also be a good time to rethink the concept of family and its meaning and purpose, because humans are highly complex, and boiling everything down to simple binaries does not mesh well with that complexity? Maybe it is time to increasingly untether ourselves from groupings of beliefs, and ideologies, and accept the fluid and dynamic direction that life, all life, takes.
I’m not saying people shouldn’t be sad when a relationship ends, but maybe we place too much value in the permanence of relationships, when nothing’s really truly permanent, and maybe we’d adjust better to understanding that as a society, and still be sad when someone important choses to leave our lives, or take a different role than the one we want them in, but also understand that these changes aren’t really failings on our own part, but simply the whims and chaos of being human.