Q: My partner of four years and I recently decided to get engaged and get married. We’re both very excited. We’ve bought a house together, and we have two dogs and four chickens, so in many ways we’ve already joined our lives (and finances). But still—I can’t stop smiling when I think about how we’re choosing to create our own small family unit.
We wanted to do something to celebrate, so we finally decided last week that we would get married in the town we live in, and invite our parents to come for the weekend for a quick ceremony and then a very fancy dinner out. We’re both only children, so no other immediate family. His parents have been divorced since he was two and haven’t seen each other in years, but they are finally amicable.
My parents, on the other hand, have been together for forty years. And this weekend, my mom called and it became very clear they’re on the path to divorce. After five years of dealing with my mom’s PTSD and treatment-resistant depression (while also in an intense, seventy-plus hour per week job), my dad has decided that he can’t take it anymore.
This is heartbreaking. Their ability to stay together with their own personal evolution and all the changes in life has been a wonderful model for me. We were planning to get married in a couple months, but clearly that’s not going to happen in the way we envisioned. Is it crazy to put off my own wedding to give my parents some time to grieve the end of their life-defining relationship? Should we just elope and not include family? I just don’t know what to do.
Children of divorce, how did things go with your parents? Did you experience anything similar (a big, life-changing event coinciding with the big, life-changing event of divorce)? What do you advise?