Thursday, June 26, 2008

Divorce

And no, I'm not talking about my own. Instead, five bloggers that I closely follow are either getting divorced or have recently gotten divorced. If Dooce or Defective Yeti or Hippogriffs decides to leave their respective spouses, I will shut down my own blog as a preventative measure for the sanctity of my own marriage.

Seeing a couple you know or care about divorce is weird when you're single, but its downright fear inducing when you're married. Could what happened to them happen to us and how do we stop it?

I'm old enough to know that we can never really see into the inner workings of another couple. One of my best friends in graduate school left her husband of 20 some odd years even though it looked like, from the outside, they were a great team.

I also know that sometimes couples just shouldn't be. I am thinking of a good friend of mine who left his longterm partner years ago and it was obvious he had grown deeper and further than his partner and it was time to move on to a deeper, healthier life. I'm also thinking of another couple married for 17 years until she found out he had been having an affair for the last 4 years after they lost their first child and, obviously, they didn't deal with that loss as a couple.

And I can also see how a person can feel like he or she is suffocating or being hold back or just can't breathe air because of their relationship. And this is the one that freaks me out the most. I can see how one could let their mind wander down that path and put the blame on one's unhappiness on the other person. Which could be the rightful place where it belongs. Or maybe it's not. I hope I will always choose not to go down that path in my mind.

I don't know if that is what has happened in these relationships I'm following online. I know it has happened in some of the relationships I've seen break down in the past, especially when it doesn't seem obvious to the outsider what is so wrong with these unions.

I do know that my relationship with Dave is the easiest one I've ever had in my life, even when he doesn't properly file away his bills or when I react too quickly at some small offense. (Of course, that last one is always easy on *me*!!) We've been together for nearly 8 years now, and at no point has it felt very hard. Am I not paying enough attention?

A friend of mine who seriously considered divorce last year (with what one might call really good cause) was stunned when I told her recently that "Dave and I just haven't hit a rough spot yet and I hope we'll be able to make it through it when we do."

Tenure? Miscarriages? Vacation? (her bugaboo with her husband) And no rough spots?

Well, maybe rough minutes. Maybe rough hours. But never rough days and certainly never rough weeks.

It just scares me that perhaps one or both of the partners in the couples I see divorcing felt the same way, too. And now they look back and see nothing but rough terrain on what they thought at the time was a sunny, stable landscape.

8 comments:

Piratewench said...

Anita,
Scott and I are in the same boat as you. Personally, I think there's something to be said about getting together when we're a little older to begin with and knowing ourselves better. By that time, we've had lots of opportunity to deal with our inner monsters and have been through a few relationships and now know what we want, after trial and error.

It's similar to how we have so much to offer as an older mom, compared to when we were younger. At least that's how it is for me.

When I first met my husband, I asked him what he was looking for in a permanent relationship and he said that in the long run, he just wanted "someone he could stand."

Besides making me laugh, I really thought about that and how true it was for me too, because of all the relationships I'd been in where it had gotten to the point where I just couldn't stand that person anymore. Sounds like a simple formula, but it seems to work for us...lol!!!

niobe said...

In my experience, when a couple divorces (especially a couple with children), there's almost always a third party involved. Not necessarily an affair, maybe just a crush or a very close work friend. It's not so much that there was anything really wrong with the marriage, rather that one of the partners meets someone who offers something (and it could be just about anything) that the current partner lacks.

I know some people say that if one of the partners decides to look outside the marriage that that suggests the marriage wasn't all that strong to begin with. At least from what I've seen, that's not true at all.

Helene said...

It is true that so many couples who divorce appear to the rest of the world to be a happy perfect couple or family. But the truth of the matter is that we all have public personas, private lives and personal lives and they may not all be in alignment.

I think your fear, in healthy doses, can be used constructively by inspiring you to tend to the proper feeding and care of your marriage, which is often neglected after years in coupledom.

Divorce is not always a pretty thing, but it has become a normal part of life and in some situations, can lead to greater happiness for those involved.

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean, Anita about sometimes feeling like you're surrounded by the plague. We've been (extremely!) happily married for 40 years now, and most of our close friends are long-term couples as well, but our kids' friends are almost all the product of double-family homes. One of our young friends has asked on several occasions over the years "How did the two of you avoid divorce?", and I've never been able to give her a "good" answer to that question, because it's simply never been an issue for us. Never something blocking the paths we've chosen that has needed "avoiding". We too have been through some rough patches involving serious medical situations with one of us and with both of our kids, not to mention the very major relationship issues with my family. But each of those experiences is something we've weathered and dealt with *together* and the end result has been to strengthen the ties rather than fray them. You would know by now if there were going to be "issues". My educated guess is that you and Dave are good for the long haul!

Carroll

Karen said...

Married 26 years. Won't divorce. Neither of us has ever entertained the notion, either. I think for us, Divorce is like when our son asked us what dropping out of high school meant: "Not for you."
That said, I've certainly seen some situations where it was definitely warranted. And even on where is was a necessary thing to do but neither partner wanted it.
We just don't know stuff unless we have walked in others' moccasins.

kate said...

Sometimes it seems like it's all around you, but no one too close, and then it's suddenly you thinking about it. I don't really know that anyone was immune, and if someone figured out a way to be, I'd like to know how.

Here's hoping you can strengthen your relationship by recognizing the things before they cause harm.

Just me said...

It freaks me out when is I see so many people divorcing. My partner and I have been together for 14 years, married for almost ten. And there are times when I have wanted to trade him in for a pastrami on rye -- but we continue to hang in there.

The other part of this is that after many many years we finally have a child and with that as you know comes great responsibility.

Divorce wouldn't be for us. Ever. I'd move into the guest room first.

OneTiredEma said...

Well, laid-off dad and Moxie are two halves of the same couple, so maybe you can count it as four divorces?

Divorce doesn't really happen in my circles, which either means that people put up with more or suffer through things that aren't right. Sometimes it is better to go separate ways, I think. I don't remember my parents married to each other, but each them seems so "right" in their second marriage it's hard to imagine them still together but not as happy.

My husband and I have been going through a rough patch, not with each other per se but an outside "entity" that is Making Life Difficult. We are fighting through it. But it's hard. We are lucky in that we had a really great foundation....