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Image / Self / Parenthood

Adele gets real about the guilt of divorce when you have children


By Megan Burns
19th Nov 2021

British Vogue

Adele gets real about the guilt of divorce when you have children

The singer spoke about how she worried her separation with Simon Konecki would affect their son.

In her interview with British Vogue, Adele has shared how difficult it was to go through a divorce with a child involved.

She and Simon Konecki ended their marriage in 2019, after getting married in 2018. Their son, Angelo, is eight, and she says that a large part of her motivation for her just-released album is explaining to him why it all happened.

“I just felt like I wanted to explain to him, through this record, when he’s in his twenties or thirties, who I am and why I voluntarily chose to dismantle his entire life in the pursuit of my own happiness. It made him really unhappy sometimes. And that’s a real wound for me that I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to heal.”

It’s clear from what she says that she grappled with the balance between her own happiness and that of her son’s, but her decision also shows a desire to want better for her son, and show him what a relationship should be like.

One song on the album gets into the minefield of dating post-divorce, and describes one date as lazy and remote. “That one is obviously about stuff that happened,” she says, “but I wanted to put it on the album to show Angelo what I expect him to treat his partner like, whether it be a woman or a man or whatever. After going through a divorce, my requirements are sky-high. There’s a very big pair of shoes to fill.”

The interview also deals with the additional stress of looking after a child’s emotions through a divorce as well as your own. Adele describes her anxiety throughout this period, which was exacerbated by the fact that she couldn’t always remember what she had said to Angelo about the separation.

It made him really unhappy sometimes. And that’s a real wound for me that I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to heal.

Her therapist suggested she record voice notes of their conversations so she could go back and check, giving her one less thing to worry about. A snippet of one of these is said to appear on one of the tracks on the album.

What she wasn’t easily able to explain to him, however, was why it all happened. She says that he didn’t get it, but “I don’t really get it either”, so how can she help him understand? The best she can do, she says, is always let him know how she’s feeling.

Adele herself felt the effect of divorce as a child, as her parents broke up shortly after she was born. She had a difficult relationship with her father, and says she wasted a lot of time walking on eggshells. “It’s not bad decisions that f**k up our kids,” she says, “it’s indecisions.”

What is also particularly revealing is that she explains that she felt shame about the failure of the relationship.

“I was embarrassed. I was really embarrassed. That thing of not being able to make something work. We’ve been trained as women to keep trying, even by the movies we watched when we were little. At the time it broke my heart, but I actually find it so interesting now. How we’re told to suck it up.”

I think it’s that people love to portray a divorced woman as spinning out of control, like, ‘Oh she must be crackers. She must’ve decided she wants to be a ho.’ Because what is a woman without a husband?”

The fact that a woman as successful, as adored as Adele can feel this way shows how pervasive these ideas are, that marriage is the picture of success, and then naturally, divorce must be a failure.

When there is a child involved, people can also be quick to condemn people for leaving, accusing them of being selfish for putting their own happiness above their child’s. But what lesson does that teach their child?

She says that she and Simon are still close, and has only moved as far as the house next door. “I definitely chose the perfect person to have my child with… that – after making a lot of knee-jerk reactions – is one of my proudest things I’ve ever done.”

This healthy approach to the end of their relationship is surely a much better example for their son than staying together while unhappy, despite the difficulties of the process.

You can read the full interview here.