There just seems to be so much peer pressure to divorce these days. It’s everywhere. Either you’re doing it, you’re talking about doing it, talking about someone else doing it or helping someone through it. I’d let an arachnid crawl on my body (likely restricted to the pinkie toe on my right foot, but even that’s a huge deal) if you haven’t had a conversation that included a mention of divorce in the last month. I bet it was this morning. It’s as if talking about divorce is the equivalent of sneezing directly into the open mouth of another person. One by one, it’s infecting us all.
It would be fascinating to have a “Divorce with Zero Consequences Day”, where any married couple could divorce in 1 day and not lose any assets. Or, put another way, no financial gain or loss to either party. You will continue to live as you do, within the exact same means, your kids will still screw up like all kids do, but now you do it alone. Best of all, it would cost nothing.
How many people would look across the breakfast table at their spouse and say,” Who could pass up that offer?”
If 50% of marriages end in divorce then it’s a 50-50 shot you’re gonna pick the right potential partner. But even if you do pick the right partner, you have to actually figure out how to do marriage. That’s at best a 50-50 shot. I suck at math, so I can’t accurately calculate how together those two statistics equate to bad odds, but I’m guessing the odds for a successful marriage are as slim as Nicole Kidman in full body Spanx.
When you look at the divorce rate of 50% keep in mind that those are the couples that actually go through the wretched burden of getting a divorce. It doesn’t take into consideration those couples that are massively miserable but still together. They fall into the 50% that are married. Miserable, but still married.
For the last month I have been taking an unofficial poll of the women that I know well or just connect with randomly about whether or not they are happy in their marriage. They were all women, so not exactly a cross-section. (It’s probably dicey for me to be walking around asking married men if they are happy in their relationship. I am fairly certain that line of questioning would be misconstrued.) I tallied 14 responses over the course of 4 weeks.
So, what do you think the results were? 50-50? One-third not happy? One-third happy?
Try NONE happy. Not one. A super-sized zero. Some shrugged and talked about the challenges of keeping a relationship alive and well while raising children, others mentioned the strains that the economy has placed on the relationship, and others said they simply share the same roof. Not the same bed. The same roof. Their relationship died long ago, but why dig up the corpse? They don’t talk much, just logistical stuff. They aren’t interested in each other anymore. Sex? Yea, no. They don’t even argue anymore. That’s the quiet before the storm. And while most seemed bothered by it, or saddened as they shared, no one had a plan to change it.
It was as if it’s a forgone conclusion that eventually your happy marriage becomes just palatable. Tolerable. Survivable.
Had I approached me and had the same conversation I would not be eliminating the possibility of a shutout. I wasn’t happy, and like the women I spoke with, I didn’t know how to fix it. I had plenty of issues to point to like The Genius’ insane travel schedule, my independent streak, our communication challenges, or the frenetic pace of life in general to explain away our troubles. But those are nothing more than excuses.
Somewhere along the way we stopped making each other a priority. I was far too good of a soloist, making it easy for The Genius to focus on himself, a very comfortable role for him to play. And then we let it ride for 16 years. Making a few poorly executed attempts to improve our relationship over the course of that time. We even went to a counselor. Twice. Before The Genius went on the road for 8 weeks.
We never had momentum on our side.
Somehow we went from being what I thought was a great match to betrayal to divorce. How did I stand by and let that train wreck through? I’m a pretty smart girl. I nurture and listen to my intuition. I have great intentions. I loved him. I wanted to be married until death parted us, but my preference was that we would go together, holding hands. I was going the distance.
As I’ve said before, my soul must really need to learn something, and my marriage to The Genius was going to be part of the curriculum.
So did I pick the right person or the wrong person to marry? The Genius was the perfect person to marry.
I’m not 100% sure why, yet. That’s a big part of what I need to come to understand. But I have learned this: We humans suck at relationships. We are bad at it. For all the attention paid to them, all the experts who study them, all of the days upon days we invest in them, we haven’t figured them out. We make the same mistakes over and over, even though the pain of heartache should be enough of a Pavlovian kick in the ass to solve this riddle once and for all.
I want to be part of the solution.