My Grandparents' Separation After 50 Years Of Marriage Destroyed My Views On Love
When I was a kid I envied the children whose mothers and fathers came to all their softball games. For me, it was either my dad or my mom.
My parents separated after 12 years of marriage when I was very young, and out of my two other siblings – one older and one younger – I seemed to be the most affected by this change.
I loved the concept of love and even as a kid I wanted to believe that every single person could and should have a fairytale marriage. That vision definitely included my parents. This idea probably came from the fact that in my household Disney was everything. We were surrounded by these old-as-time romantic narratives. We had every single princess movie on VHS, Mickey Mouse paintings hanging on every wall, and I told everyone that I was Snow White.
So over time, as I grew up, I finally came to terms with the fact that my parents were the only exception to the happy ending rule. At least, I thought they were the only exception. I didn't like that they were divorced but I realized that things were better that way.
This forced me to think about my own life. For me, it would be different. I knew that when I grew up, I would marry only once and live my happily ever after. At least, that was the mindset I had until my own grandparents separated – after 50 years of marriage.
When I tell people that, the reaction that they usually have is "seriously?"
I then go on this rant about how my grandma just wasn't happy anymore and my grandpa was sick and things just didn't work out and so on. On the outside, I was calm, cool, and collected, but on the inside, I was scared beyond words. How can a couple that had been through an entire life together just decide that it's over? Fifty years. Three children. 12 grandchildren. And a million memories. How is it all over?
When my mother told me the news one afternoon two years ago, I was confused. My idea of marriage and divorce was that you got married and if it didn't work out then you would probably know within the first 10 years – like my parents did. But 50? It just did not make sense. I spent my entire childhood coming to terms with my parent's divorce and I was finally okay with it. But having this happen to my grandparents set me back. A lot.
To me, my grandparents were unbreakable. They'd been through every stage of life together. They fought loud and often when we had family events but at the end of the day, I believed in their love. Without the two of them many of our family vacations and parties wouldn't have happened. They taught me, and our other 11 cousins, that love was hard work and that it would take a mountain to break them apart.
But then they did, and this made me worry about things I never thought I would ever have to worry about. Like what happens if I am married and one day my husband doesn't love me anymore? Or, what happens if I have to find a new place for my body once I'm dead? Or what happens to my life insurance? Does it go to my ex or my children? What happens when I need help and no one is there? Will I eat what could be my last meal by myself?
All of these questions were hypothetical to me, but for my grandpa, they were coming true. My grandma moved out of the house to her own apartment and for the first time in both of their lives, they were each living alone.
This broke my heart and my mother's heart. She had to see her parents go through the same thing that she went through – and what I went through. And in time, my grandfather passed away.
Although I am nowhere close to getting married, these divorces scared me. I've already reconsidered my naive idea of fairy tales – at least for now. If a couple that has been together for 50 years can't make it until forever, how is there any hope for me?
This pain has become a sort of roadblock. Right when my grandparents separated I met my current partner. For me, it was not easy building a relationship with a possible future in mind. He is kind, smart, handsome, giving, and caring but whenever we start dreaming of where we will be one day, my heart closes up and I think of my grandparents.
The idea of going through your entire life with someone just to have it end absolutely terrifies me. It makes me question the point of it all. Because of this lack of trust, I have pushed the man that I love away so, so much. I say things like, "If it's just going to end 10 years from now, what's the point of being together now?"
He tells me it's about enjoying each other right now. From what I know and what he tells me, a relationship is supposed to be simple and fun. Yet, because of the love that fell apart around me, I am unable to shake this feeling that I have to start planning for forever – and securing it – right now.