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Things Fall Apart: why don’t we hear more people say they’re ‘happily divorced’?

by Lia Hynes
02nd Mar 2020

When Liadan Hynes’ marriage fell apart she had to work on adjusting to the new reality. In her weekly column, Things Fall Apart she explores the myriad ways a person can find their way back to themselves, as well as the realities of life as a single parent in Ireland.

I have become addicted to a new podcast, and beyond the fact that it is entertaining and very funny, I think the attraction is that it is simply the most sensible thing I’ve heard in quite some time. And in a world where Covid-19, Trump, Brexit, Climate Crisis and all the rest are coming at you constantly, pure sensibleness takes on an added appeal. It’s comforting in the extreme.

The podcast is Fortunately…with Fi and Jane. Jane is Jane Garvey, a presenter of BBC4’s Woman’s Hour, Fi is Fi Glover, another BBC presenter. This is in no way an out-of-the-way find I am revealing to you, it’s a chart-topping podcast. Jane and Fi are funny, irreverent, and like I say, deeply sensible. You need to hear them on Gwyneth and self-optimising.

If you have yet to listen to any episodes, which combine the two friends chatting together and then later with a celebrity interview, then the recent Marian Keyes episode is a good place to jump in.

Happily divorced

But it was a recent comment of Jane Garvey’s that really stuck with me since I listened to it last week. “Of course, I’m happily divorced,” she said offhandedly. She was referring to her divorce in 2009 from fellow presenter Adrian Chiles.

It’s not often (ever?) you hear someone saying I’m happily divorced. The two simply don’t seem to go together. Divorce is, as the internet will tell you, one of the most difficult things a person can deal with. If you’re not divorced, you don’t need the internet to tell you this is something to dread. Being divorced, and being happy, don’t seem to go together.

But it wasn’t just the fact of hearing someone say this. Stating this possibility.

It was more than that. It was the casual, offhand way in which she said it. As in, this is so obvious I can barely be bothered stating it (much of what Fi and Jane say is said in this tone. It’s comforting stuff).

It was so refreshing, to hear someone over a decade down the road of divorce, refer so offhandedly to her own happiness as such a given. That this state, of being divorced, and happy, would be almost obvious.

Less than

Because when you’re divorced, sometimes it can feel that you are seen as somehow less than. Doing great, doing your best, etc etc, but still not quite the full package. Missing an essential piece without which, well, can you really be really happy? I doubt it’s just women who are divorced who feel this. I would imagine it’s the same if you are single, or do not have children. Doing your best, but truly happy? Could you be, when you haven’t ticked all the boxes?

But actually, the further I move into this divorce thing (full disclosure, I’m separated not yet divorced), the more I realise the falsity of this line of thought. None of us are living entirely full lives. Lots of us are living lives that are lovely in ways, lacking in others. And no one thing guarantees a happy life, nor the lack of it a life forever slightly wanting.

Read more: Endometriosis: Alexa Chung describes condition as “invisible hellmare” in emotional Instagram post

Read more: ‘When a female friendship ends, it doesn’t have to be viewed as a failure’

Read more: Adult ADHD: What is it and how do you know if you have it?

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