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Ep #129: How Our Cultural Socialization Around Marriage Makes Divorce 10 x Harder



Have you ever thought about how our cultural socialization around marriage makes divorce 10 x harder? In this episode, we get real about these deeply entrenched narratives and challenge the notion that divorce is a tragedy. I'm going to talk about how we can unwind the social conditioning that values us based on our romantic relationship status, especially as women.


The more knowledge and understanding you have around romantic relationship socialization, the more power you have to move beyond the societal expectations. In this episode I'll explore the historical context of this socialization and the double standards around getting married, becoming a mother and getting divorced. This episode might just be your game-changer, redefining your perception of your own divorce journey.


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Grief and trauma are the two biggest struggles women deal with as they go through their divorce. It's highly likely that you are experiencing both and don't even realize what you're feeling. I'm here to tell you that it's okay for you to grieve your marriage (even if it was shitty) and it's normal to be experiencing some kind of trauma (which is essentially a disconnection from yourself - your mind, body and soul). I can help guide you through the grief in all of the forms it show up so you can heal. I can also teach you how to ground yourself in healing so you can ease through the trauma. Schedule your free consult by clicking here.


Featured on this episode:

  1. Interested in the Divorce Betrayal Transformation? Learn more here.

  2. Are you lost and confused about who you are after divorce? Don't worry. I've got 51 Ways to Get to Know Yourself Again. Click here to download.

  3. Want to work first hand with Karin so you can stop worrying about what your life will be like after divorce, and instead begin making it amazing today? Click here to schedule a consult to find out more about working 1:1 with Karin as your coach.

  4. Haven't left a review yet? No problem. Click here to leave one.


Full Episode Transcript:

If you're listening to this episode, you are listening to episode number 129 of Becoming You Again, and you guessed it. I'm your host, Karin Nelson. I'm so glad you're here. Welcome to Becoming You Again, the podcast to help you with your mental and emotional well-being during and after divorce. This is where you learn to overcome the grief and trauma of your divorce. We're going to do that by reconnecting with yourself, creating lasting emotional resilience and living a truly independent life so that your life can be even better than when you were married. I'm your host, Karin Nelson. Welcome back to the podcast. My lovely ladies, how is everyone doing? Kids are back in school by now. Both my kids are away at college. We have my boyfriend's kids half the time and life seems very quiet. Lately I got to say it is very different and I am figuring out how to adjust. But at times it is great and at other times it is difficult and I'm just trying to feel my way through this new transition in my life. I would love to hear how you're all doing. Feel free to come message me on Instagram at Karin Nelson Coaching and just kind of let me know what's going on in your life. I love chatting with the podcast listeners. So come, let me know what's going on in your lives. Speaking of Instagram, which is kind of a nice little segway into today's podcast episode, I was scrolling through Instagram the other day and a picture popped up in my feed of a very famous couple that had been together for many, many, many years not even just in Hollywood standards, but just like in regular human life standards and they were announcing the end of their marriage. They were announcing that they were getting divorced to the world, basically, and my first reaction was like, oh my god, I am shook. Those two have been together forever and they seemed so happy. Now let's give a little context to this story. These are people I do not know. I know literally nothing about them, except what they've shown me on social media, that I see every so often, in pictures of them at movie premieres or something that they've posted on, perhaps social media that seems to just pop up into my feed. I don't even follow either of these people. You know how, when you're scrolling through social media, things that you don't follow sometimes will just pop up for you. So that's how this was, and yet my initial thoughts were they seem so happy. This is so sad. I can't believe they're breaking up. But we all do this right, we all have these narratives of what we think other people's lives are like. We do this and this is not what the podcast is about this idea of building narratives around people's lives that we literally know nothing about Although I definitely should do a podcast on that someday because we do do that and it makes our lives much harder, because then we compare those lives, those fake narratives, to our own lives and we make things so much worse for us, we make our lives seem so much worse. But I digress and so I'm sitting there, I'm thinking about this. A little time has passed and I'm kind of thinking about this idea of these two people getting a divorce and I just kept questioning like why I thought this was such a big deal. Why do we as a society feel like we have to put so much emphasis on these types of relationships, on marriages breaking up, on breakups in general, and why we look at divorce as being such a terrible, sad tragedy in everyday society? And then I took a beat and I was like hang on, and I kind of remembered who I am and what I do for a living and I'm like you're a divorce-agreive coach Like I don't actually agree that divorce is a terrible, sad tragedy. I think there may have been a time in my life when I did agree with that, but I don't anymore and I sort of like had to. It was almost like I had to give myself a little shake and a wake-up call and be like, wait a minute. This idea that this is sad, that this is a tragedy, that this is a terrible thing, is something that I've been socialized to believe and I don't have to accept that any longer. I don't have to believe that any longer. In fact, I don't believe it any longer Because, going through my own divorce and working with every single one of my clients all of my clients who have gone through a divorce, we have all either found or are finding so much more happiness, so much more fulfillment, so much more individual satisfaction in a multitude of different ways outside of our marriage, after our divorce, that I can't possibly continue to accept this idea that marriage is the ultimate goal and if you get divorced, it basically means you are worth less than you were before that, than you were when you were married, and so that's kind of what I want to talk about today, I started kind of taking a closer look at socialization around marriage, around romantic relationships in general, and how these ideas that have been embedded in our culture make breakups, and especially divorce, that much harder to swallow, that much harder to deal with. And so what do I mean when I say socialization? I talk about this quite a lot in the podcast, especially probably within the last maybe like 20 or 30 episodes. I talk about socialization a lot and you might be like I just don't even know what that means, but socialization is basically how we are taught or how we learn to behave in certain ways that is socially acceptable, and so socialization around romantic relationships, around marriage, is particularly pervasive. And in this podcast specifically this one episode, number 129, I am going to be addressing romantic relationship socialization from the point of view of a woman or someone who has been socialized as a woman, and that is because I am a woman. All of my clients are women and this is the perspective that I know and that I want to address. However, I want you to keep in mind that men also have been socialized in different ways around romantic relationships. I'm not really going to address those ideas in this podcast. I might do it in a future episode? I don't know, but just keep in mind, socialization goes both ways and especially when it comes to romantic relationships, there's two sides of the same coin and all humans are affected by it. Okay, and so getting back to this idea of romantic relationship socialization, the ideas of what that means or what is socially acceptable when it comes to romantic relationships, they're everywhere, literally everywhere. This is how we get socialized through books, through television, through social media, through magazines, newspaper articles, magazine articles, movies. We get it through how people talk to us, stories that people tell us, in what we're taught at church and what we're taught at school, in what your friends tell you and what your parents tell you or other relatives tell you. Even if you were never explicitly told that your place as a woman in this world is to get married, have babies and raise kids, which is kind of like what I was taught as a child raised in the religion that I was raised in, it doesn't matter if you weren't explicitly taught that. You are still swimming in a sea of romantic relationship socialization and there is no getting away from it until you intentionally choose to think about it, to see it for what it is, and think about it in a different way. What specifically is this romantic relationship socialization that we're bombarded with? Is this idea that women, who are chosen by a man to get married and to be the wife in the relationship, have now been given their ultimate value. And then, if you add kids to that equation, to that relationship, well, even better, even more worth and value has been added to you as a woman. Good job, you've achieved something now, because until you meet that goal of marriage, that achievement of marriage, perhaps you're just not quite good enough, but once you're chosen, all right, great, you've stuck into the realm of worthiness. Now, remember, you might not believe me, you might think these are my ideas. I want to remind you I don't agree with these ideas. These are cultural constructs that permeate our society and they have for generations, for thousands even of years. I want to probably do an episode on the history of patriarchy and where it comes from, but that's another total episode that I'm really not even going to touch on. But I really want you to think about this in a historical sense even. I mean, if you even think about it like 100 to 150 years ago, women who never married, they maybe had more rights, but even like that is kind of questionable, because women weren't really allowed to have land in their names and women weren't really allowed to own their own property, so it either had to be. If they weren't married, it had to be like in their father's name or their brother's name. If they were married, of course it was in their husband's name, right, even if they were the ones that came from the money, which is so crazy. But okay, we're not even going to talk about that, just thinking about, like historically, 100 to 150 years ago, maybe these women had more rights if they were single. However, they were definitely looked at as outcast in society. They were titled spinsters, which has a very negative connotation when you think about it. And these women who were quote unquote spinsters because they were old sometimes like 30, meant old right and not married. They were looked at as unwanted and undesirable romantically. So perhaps you're starting to see this picture here of where socialization is coming from and what it is doing to women, even today when it comes to romantic relationships. That makes it 10 times harder to deal with our situation when we go through a divorce. We have to grapple with this idea that now that we are not in a marriage relationship, now that we are not in a romantic relationship any longer, now that we do not have that title of misses and we have now been downgraded to the MS period abbreviation Ms that by societal terms we are no longer as worthy as we were before. We are damaged and there's something wrong with us. I mean, even if you look at this idea of like a single mom versus a single dad, just think about, like this illustration that I'm going to give you. Let's say that you're in the grocery store and you see a single mom at a grocery store with all her kids. And, by the way, in this scenario we are just assuming, for illustration's sake, that the mom is a single mom with all of her kids, and the dad that I'm going to talk about in a minute is also a single dad with all of his kids. I'm not saying that every woman you see in the store that has her kids with her is a single mom, and vice versa with the dad. I'm just using that for illustration purposes. So just bear with me here. Stay with me, let's just get through this, okay. So let's say you see a mom and we're just assuming she's a single mom with all of her kids, right. What do we usually do when we see that? We either pity her and think, oh my gosh, that must be terrible. That must be so hard to be a single mom with all the kids, or we're kind of mad about it, right, we're kind of like judgy. We're kind of like ugh, why couldn't she just freaking hire a babysitter? Why does she have to bring all of her kids with her? We're not even like coming in with any kind of compassion of like, oh, she's a single mom. She might be struggling to have a babysitter, she might not have enough money to have a babysitter, maybe she's working two full-time jobs and this is the only time she gets with her kids. Like, we're not even thinking about those things. We just come in straight with judgment or pity, right. And then, on the flip side, think about, if you see the single dad in the store with his kids, what do we immediately do? We think, oh my gosh, that is so cute. What a good dad. He's taking his kids to the store and spending time with them. He's getting donuts. Oh my gosh, that guy is so cool that he is just stepping up to be such a good dad in his kids' lives. Do you see the difference? Do you see the difference of the socialization of what we, as women, are piled on? And I'm not saying men don't have it hard, they do. They have different things that they have to deal with. Again, I'm not talking about those ones today. Today we're just focusing on women. But this idea that we are worth less not necessarily worthless, but worth less when we're divorced than we were when we were married, that is a socialized idea and it is something that you do not have to accept. It is something that you do not have to take on and add that much more shame, that much more guilt, that much more pressure as you are going through your divorce. And so I want to get back to this idea that marriage is what seemingly gives women their ultimate worth, which, again, cultural socialization is telling us that when we get divorced, it's taking our worth away. This is one of the reasons why our socialization around romantic relationships and the emphasis that we put on them culturally is making divorce feel so much heavier. It is making divorce feel so much more terrible. There's so much unspoken, targeted pressure that gets heaped on women who go through a divorce, and I just want to say it's not cool and it's not fair. Let's just lay that out right now. Yes, socialization sometimes is unfair and sometimes it sucks, and that is why we have to do our part to shuck off the stereotypes, the ideals that cultural socialization have piled on us and continue to pile on us. And then we get to decide for ourselves what we will accept and what we will buy into. You have a choice to accept it or not. And the more aware you are of it, the more aware of the ideas and the expectations that you're told you have to live up to, the easier it becomes to start to unwind from those ideas, to start to detach from those ideas and you don't have to be entangled in them any longer. And don't get me wrong here. Like I'm not saying that marriage is stupid or that you shouldn't get married or be married, or that marriage is bad. I'm not saying that at all. I'm saying when you go to make choices in your life about marriage, about romantic relationships, about divorce, do it based on knowledge and understanding of what's really going on. Your individual worth and value as a woman does not increase if you are chosen by a man to get married. It does not decrease if you get divorced. You are not unworthy if you never get married in the first place or choose to not be in a relationship. Your value and your worth is inherent. Inherent means that it is your right, it is your privilege. It is something that you are born with. It's already permeating inside of you as part of you, at full capacity, the moment you are born. It can't increase, it can't decrease your worth and your value just are. They just are. So I want you to keep all of that in mind as you go through your divorce. Don't let this romantic relationship socialization make your divorce heavier, make it harder to bear. See it for what it is and do the work necessary to unwind this belief. You deserve it. You deserve to see and recognize your worth as is, whether you're married or divorced. All right, my friends, that is what I have for you today. I love you so much. Thank you for being here. I will talk to you soon. Hi, friend, I'm so glad you're here and thanks for listening. I wanted to let you know that if you're wanting more, a way to make deeper, more lasting change, then working one-on-one with me as your coach may be exactly what you need. Together, we'll take everything you're learning in the podcast and implement it in your life, with weekly coaching, real-life practice and practical guidance. To learn more about how to work with me one-on-one, go to Karin Nelson Coaching dot com. That's wwwkarinnelsoncoaching dot com. Thanks for listening. If this podcast agreed with you in any way, please take a minute to follow and give me a rating. Wherever you listen to podcasts and for more details about how I can help you live an even better life than when you were married, make sure and check out the full show notes by clicking the link in the description.

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