My husband and I are getting a divorce. It’s really hard to write this for a lot of reasons, but the one that comes to mind this moment is that it’s so crappy to be in the middle of a divorce when I make a living telling people how to run their lives.
Fortunately I also make a living scouring the world for good research. And, while I have spent forever telling you that relationships make us happier than money, I am really pleased to find some research that says that for some people marriage is like a raise in pay, and it only makes us happy for a couple of years, and then we go back to our baseline of happiness.
This is not true for the kids, of course. There is extremely persuasive research that no one likes to hear, that says that kids do not notice that their parents are unhappy in a marriage. In this seminal study, Judith Wallerstein tracked a large sample of children of divorce for 25 years. And she found that unless there is violence in the home, kids suffer more from parents getting a divorce than staying in a bad marriage. This research is what has kept me in my marriage. But now I am learning that marriage is a little like fertility in that I cannot control everything.
So really, I guess I have to say that you shouldn’t take my advice about marriage, because I failed. But then I think, hold it, I have failed at least once in just about everything I have tried, and I think that’s what makes my advice work. How do you know what you’re doing wrong if you are not failing? How do you ever learn your limits?
Here’s the process I go through to tell myself that I’ll be okay after this divorce: I think about when I used to practice volleyball. If you spent the day practicing a shot you knew how to do, what was the point of practicing that day? Where was the learning curve? Where was the growth?
I think that one reason people listen to me about choosing a career is because I chose so badly, so many times. And bounced back. And I think that one reason that Wired just asked me to write a column on how to start a business is because I have started one and seen it go under. And then done another.
We should all know that success is as much about resiliency as it is about luck and skill. And at this point, I think it’s safe to say that while I have luck and skill, I am most gifted in the resiliency department.
So maybe getting a divorce will make for better advice. Or more humility. Which I’m sure are related, by the way.
There’s a study I read in the New York Times about how the people who are most happy with life are people who can create complicated scenarios to explain why a given situation is not so bad. That is me, right now.
To be honest, I’ve had a lot of time to perform those mental gymnastics since I’ve known for a while about the divorce. I waited to tell you because I didn’t want to blog about it when I was crying. Everyone has their limits, even me. And besides, I’ve been raising a round of funding for my company, and what a terrible post to have up on a day when investors are reading my blog.
Anyway, during the time between crying and deciding that I’m the queen of resiliency, I stumbled across this information about my Myers Briggs type: ENTJ. There are sixteen personality types. ENTJs make up 4% of the general population and 80% of the population of executives.
Here’s the news about ENTJs in a marriage:
“Gender issues are especially significant for ENTJ females. As a type, their arrogant, confrontational manner and need for control can appear to be quite ‘unwomanly’ to others. Of course, the problem intensifies for the ENTJ female when dealing with men. Their demanding, objective, competent, and independent nature is not particularly endearing to most men.”
But, being the optimist I am, I kept looking and found this:
“These qualities may obscure the fact that ENTJ females can be quite nurturing and caring. For them, femininity is not defined by traditional roles. It is reflected in the total involvement and commitment they bring to each moment of life.”
Here’s what I’ve been doing while I’ve been not blogging about the divorce: I’ve been thinking about dating. It’s my nature—being an ENTJ means planning the future. I’m very future oriented. And I can’t help wondering where the female ENTJs are in the marriage world. How those marriages work out. Right now, I can’t even imagine how an ENTJ date would work out.
But I’m starting to remember that all the skills I’ve learned in my career will be useful to my personal life right now: don’t focus on shortcomings and play to your strengths instead; be kind and caring to the people around you to improve any situation, and most of all—setbacks don’t matter as much as bouncing back.