Yesterday, Jennifer Lopez, the recently divorced singer and actress appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair, which included a revealing interview complete with photos of the singer clad in only a full-length fur and high heels. (In case you’re wondering how that happened so quickly, the story was already in the works when news of the divorce broke. The writer called her back for additional details after the split was announced.) Explaining her split from Latin pop singer Marc Anthony, J.Lo said, “Sometimes we don’t realize we are compromising ourselves. To understand that a person is not good for you, or that that person is not treating you in the right way, or that he is not doing the right thing for himself — if I stay, then I am not doing the right thing for me. I love myself to walk away from that now.”
I ask because I was also reading a Marie Claire story recently that said 30% of now-divorced women who felt like Lopez did in her marriage, felt that way before their wedding, but headed down the aisle anyway.
Jennifer Gauvin, a Denver therapist blamed the reasoning (or fear) on a culture where girls are inundated with Cinderella fairy tales about marriage being the key to a happily ever after life, and women are bamboozled by romantic comedies that show that love conquers all. The article also cites the rise of “Wedding Fever,” noting how many women get caught up in planning a wedding and don’t focus on the pending marriage.
“Women are raised with an unrealistic impression of what love is supposed to look like, Gauvain told Marie Claire. “Women learn that love can always work, even when it’s unhealthy.”
Over the last week, women not following their intuition has come up in a lot here. And it’s because not trusting — and more important not following — your inner feelings is the cause of a lot of life’s conflict. We can blame culture or our need to feel wanted and loved for skewing our priorities, but we can’t ultimately blame it for the bad decisions we make when we know we’re making them.
Knowing better means you have the responsibility of doing better. The first thing I learned as a life coach is that only you know what will make you happy and what is right for you. And although it’s not popular to say, more women need to focus on what is right for themselves and not anyone else.
I can’t say this enough, and I’ll keep saying it until women en masse start applying it to their lives: you know what you know. And when you put society’s expectations, or even anyone else’s before your own wants, needs and desires in the beginning, you are setting yourself up for your own fall — divorce, or worse — in the end.
Trust yourself. Ultimately, you are all you’ve ever got.
Demetria L. Lucas is the Relationships Editor at ESSENCE and the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. She has recently been nominated for an African American Literary Award. Vote for her now on literaryawardshow.com