How “Harry Potter” Is Helping Me Get Through My Divorce
My husband and I recently decided to get a divorce, and naturally (or perhaps unnaturally?), one of the first things I thought about was the fact that divorce is never explicitly mentioned in the Harry Potter series. It initially seemed strange to me that in a world where anything is possible, the dissolution of marriage doesn’t appear to exist. Surely not every wizarding marriage resembles that of Arthur and Molly Weasley or even the highly dysfunctional but seemingly inextricably attached Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy, right? We know that J.K. Rowling is not afraid of anything, especially when it comes to addressing tough topics and creating scenarios that allow her to explore and expound upon those topics. We also know that J.K. Rowling herself has been through a divorce. With those facts in mind, I felt at first that this omission was odd at best and insensitive at worst. After some rumination, however, I have not only a better understanding of this omission but also a deep appreciation for it that is honestly helping me get through my own divorce.
There are no two ways about it: Divorce sucks. Regardless of the particular circumstances surrounding a divorce, the termination of a relationship that you initially thought would last forever is a profoundly sad experience. I won’t go into great detail about my own divorce, but I will say that I consider myself lucky to be going through an uncontested, no-fault divorce through which my soon-to-be-ex and I will likely emerge as friends. It does not escape me that this is a rare and fortunate situation as far as divorces go, but I am still struggling a bit to adjust to life on my own and accept that this chapter of my life, which was often actually quite wonderful, is ending.
So how does Harry Potter figure into all of this? My relationship with the series has changed because of this dramatic change in my personal life. For starters, I decided to part with some of my Potter collectibles partly because I’m moving to a smaller living space and partly because it felt like the right time to let go (don’t worry, I still have a pretty major collection). I also had to take a step back from MuggleNet for a while to sort my life out a bit. That said, I have been thinking a lot about the series and what it offers in the way of helping people hold on to hope, seek the light, and find the courage to rebuild. It was during this time of reflection that I realized that the series never explicitly mentions divorce. The closest we get to the topic is Seamus Finnigan’s mention of his father being unpleasantly surprised to learn that his wife is a witch; we never learn, however, how this discovery affects the Finnigans’ marriage. Are we to believe that divorce simply doesn’t exist in the wizarding world?
In a word, no. I do believe that divorce exists in the wizarding world. I believe that there is adultery, substance abuse, domestic abuse, and mere incompatibility. I believe that there is uncertainty, loneliness, and regret. I believe that, as is the case with our own world, the wizarding world is a deeply flawed, sometimes incandescently beautiful, and sometimes utterly heartbreaking place. Perhaps Rowling doesn’t explicitly mention divorce because there are bigger battles to fight and more important things about certain characters who may be divorced to mention. Perhaps there is so much love – and so many different types of love – to go around that the loss of a specific kind of love for a specific person isn’t so earth-shattering after all.
I’m sure that Rowling has her own specific reasons for omitting divorce from Harry Potter, but I’m also sure that she wants her readers to think for ourselves and let the books speak to us in whatever way we see fit on any number of topics. For me, the omission of this particular topic is empowering because it helps me see that the world at large and even my own little life are about so much more than this unfortunate thing happening to my marriage. I may be getting a divorce, but I refuse to let it define me. Bigger battles lie before me, more love awaits me, and there is already so much to be grateful for – including this magical book series that has helped me through so many different seasons in my life. Regardless of the particular hardships you may be dealing with in your life right now, remember: Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.