How to End a Marriage: A Game of "Would You Rather..."
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By Mikalee Byerman, Contributor - November 01, 2013

Fotolia_51666805_XS.jpgQuick show of hands: Who here has heard of the game “Would you rather…?”

Oh good. I’m not alone.

(And yes, I see you, silly. Stop being such a doubter.)

The thing is, I fear my family’s version may be somewhat different from the game you’re thinking about. Because, while our typical game might include some standard questions (“Would you rather be a garbage collector…or a sewer repairman?” “Would you rather live without music for life…or live without books for life?”), our version also boasts far more — ahem — peculiar questions.


“Would you rather eat one live cockroach per day for the rest of your life…or replace toilet paper with corn cobs for the rest of your life?”

“Would you rather go to Disneyland for 12 hours, riding three rides per hour and consuming three meals with your hands, without wearing gloves, and without washing your hands or using hand sanitizer…or lick the bathroom door at a doctor’s office one time?”

Yeah, I know. We’re crazy like that.

But seriously, these questions can reveal so much about a person’s character, am I right?

(And just so you can judge me, my answers are: garbage collector, without music, use corn cobs, Disneyland. Go ahead, armchair Freud. Analyze that.)

So one night, as I was playing “Would you rather” with my then-boyfriend-now-husband (yes…our date nights were hot-hot-HOT!), I decided to try to gain some insights into his views on relationships.

Or rather…the end of relationships.

(What can I say: I may just be a teensy weensy bit jaded.)

Me: “Would you rather be blindsided by betrayal in your marriage…or know for years that a break-up in your marriage was inevitable?”

Cue stunned look. Dead silence. Crickets.

Him: “Um. Well. Wow.”

The question stopped him cold. Hell, it stopped me cold, as I shuddered at the icy memory of my own made-for-TV-end-of-marriage moment. (And if you’re curious, my marriage ended with a brick. A literal brick. Read all about it here, if you’re so inclined.)

So back to the game: I hadn’t seen this reaction from him since I asked the question, “Would you rather never drink alcohol again…or never drink coffee?”

His response to that question, by the way, after some quiet reflection: “Coffee. Because with enough alcohol, you’ll forget you’re missing coffee.”

Anyhow, let’s return to the question at hand, shall we? Basically, the thrust of it was this: Is it better…to have a marriage dramatically and surprisingly dissolve, or to live a relatively uncomfortable existence for a while?

Obviously, the best answer is “neither.” But in our game, that’s not an option. Because that would be too easy, and the goal is to make each other squirm. Just a little. Because that’s how we roll.

Clearly, there are pros and cons to both sides. I’ve only experienced the former — the blindside — while my then-boyfriend-now-hubby has experienced them both. So this resulted in a back-and-forth debate about the pros and cons of each.

Yes, apparently, there are “pros” to a break-up technique. Now you know.

“Well, with being blindsided, it’s like ripping the Band-Aid off,” he offered. “There’s no constant nagging feeling, no slow build-up of misery and despair.”

“Yeah, but with the slow build up, at least you have time to process,” I countered. “And after being blindsided, you have pesky trust issues and baggage for life. You’re always waiting for the shoe to drop, for the ax to fall, for the brick to hit you upside the head.”

(See what I did there? The brick — get it? I kill myself.)

“Good point,” he said. “You win. It’s better not to be blindsided.”

While the conversation resulted in a “win” for me (yay me?!?!), it has always left me wondering. What is better? Does it speed the process of healing to have the dissolution of a marriage span scant seconds — or linger for years? Is it better for future relationships to feel like you can’t trust your own instincts because of a surprising turn of events — or to feel like your picker is inherently broken because you had to survive many years with someone clearly incompatible on so many levels?

Is it better to feel like a marriage ended with a flip of a switch — or a slow, constant flicker between light and dark?

Again, I can only speak to the former. The blindside. It’s a dark place, thus making the “blind” part of the word all the more meaningful.

It is a special hell to have all that you felt confidence in ripped away. It inspires such a sudden sense of disbelief — like you’re living in some surreal bizarro world where “down” means “up” and “up” means “a pirate’s dead pet guinea pig.”

I told you: it’s jarring.

It makes you question everything. Should you have known? Were there signs that you missed? Why did this person take away your ability to choose based on truth rather than a lie? If a person can so fully hide the truth from you, how will you ever be able to trust your own ability to guess one’s true intentions again?

But I can only imagine the corollary is its own horrific little slice of steamy scorchy hell.

Personally, I hated the blindside. I doubted I would ever see the light of a trusting marriage again. I was skeptical of my ability to ever lay my heart on that formerly-solid-but-now-painfully-blurred line again.

And yet, here I am, one year into marriage number two complete with a newborn child. How’s that for light from the darkness?

So there you go: I’m hoping to play an amusing, edition game of “Would you rather…” with all of you, because I’m really curious. Would you rather be blindsided by betrayal in your marriage…or know for years that a break-up in your marriage was inevitable? And please provide some evidence in support of your choice — just to give us some insight into your scarred and cynical psyche.

Or you can just answer the cockroach/corn cob question. Whatever turns you on…


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