By: Meredith Sparks
You’re either one of three people when it comes to love in college: you’re on the hunt for your forever and always, you’re using college as the time to let loose before you confine yourself to the moderating chains of marriage, or you have decided that you’re never going to get married. Chances are that you are a girl in option one, a boy in option two, and the child of a divorced marriage in option three. Dating, sex and relationships in college drive us all crazy and nobody can deny that we enter into romantic explorations in hopes that this might be it — that we might actually be within arm’s reach of love and contentment. Actually being in a serious relationship in college comes with a lot of implications since many people meet their spouses at a common alma mater. A lot of the girls go to colleges to get their MRS degree and they join sororities to mingle with the fraternities where they’ll meet their future breadwinning husbands. It’s quite the tradition and that’s okay because all of our parents did it and they ended up just fine in the brick houses with the golden retrievers in the yard and the BMWs in the driveway.
Most of my friends come from homes with parents that love each other (or at least pretend to) and they live in, what I consider, the most perfect little bubble. I am one of the few kids from my town whose parents split up and it was a dirty divorce at that. One guy told me that he couldn’t imagine being “f*cked up” from divorce like me and his other broken-homed friends. It’s amazing the stigma that comes along with being the child in a divorced family. My friends laugh about my cynical commentary on sex and relationships, but the sad truth is that a great deal of our generation, obviously including me, has very little faith in the institutions of marriage and family. Time Magazine printed an article that explained that children from divorced homes perform at lower levels than those from happily married (or even unhappily married) homes. Children from divorced homes are more likely to adopt dangerous drinking habits, dabble in hard drugs and engage in promiscuity. The divorce rate in the United States was as high as 50% in the past decade, but as of 2008, it hovered at about 40%, and children from divorced families are three times more likely to get a divorce. So really, what is the point in me being in a serious relationship ever, much less in college, when statistics are telling me that I am doomed before I can even begin to fall in love?
In what could be a related or unrelated statistic, Time Magazine reported that 15% of young people imagine themselves dying young. I can’t see myself with the husband or the children and I certainly don’t envision myself growing old with the same person until death. It’s unnerving to me the blind confidence that people have in their futures while the children of divorces have only known uncertainty. The cleavage in thought processes between whole family and broken family homes is engrained in every aspect of American culture. We’re raised on fairytales and happy endings and positivity and other countries can immediately spot an American in the crowd because Americans are always smiling. Science even tells us that people are likely to fulfill the expectations that other people have about them, so psychology has got me and an enormous number of kids headed for Time Magazine’s statistics.
Although I am very jealous of the faith in love that most of my friends have, I know that my parent’s divorce is very much a part of who I am and everything that I do. The anger, the distrust, the stigmas – the children of divorcees can either embrace the realities or let it drag them down. We’ve learned not to depend on other people for our happiness and security, which will turn out to be either a blessing or a curse depending on which course life takes. I’ve tried to let loose and fall in love and depend on people. I hope that I can be as happy and in love as my whole family counterparts. One of my best friends adopted her stepfamily and her father’s dozens of girlfriends into her life with open arms and she says that she wants a loving marriage with a cubic zirconia instead of a diamond so that she can do the dishes. It’s nice to know that there are some people who aren’t going to become another statistic.