I’m getting a divorce.I know, I know, it’s horrible, just terrible, let’s all look at the floor and tell me how sorry you are for me, while I mumble “I’m fine.The kids are doing well.I’m taking care of myself.”
Here’s the thing, though.It’s not horrible.It’s not terrible.In fact, it might actually be one of the better things that’s happened to me.I’m doing great, the kids are happier, and my new girlfriend blows my fucking mind.
There is, though, something horrible and terrible about it, and what’s horrible and terrible is that I’m supposed to hang my head, while the masses swarm around me wondering how and why my marriage “failed.”The whole notion of a marriage “failing” is culturally annoying.Did we fail to raise two beautiful children for seven years?Did we fail to run a successful business together?Did we fail to live in tight domesticity, respecting each other as best we could?
All of which gets me to the crux of this essay: Why on earth does marriage have to be forever?As I look at the wreckage of my marriage (and there is wreckage, this wasn’t peaceful), I wonder how much better things would have been if we had never expected it to last forever in the first place.I mean, what if marriage wasn’t an eternal fairyland forever, but a more reasonable length of time, like, I don’t know, seven years?What if when you got married, you signed a contract, and you said, we’ll try this out for seven years, and if it’s going well, we’ll get married again, and if it’s still going well, we’ll sign for another seven, and so on, until we’ve chosen each other forever through a series of studied choices, rather than in one fell, newlywed swoop?How much less miserable would we be now, if after seven years we could have looked at each other and the people around us, and said, “Jesus Christ that was rough, but you know what, we made it!We lasted seven years!Hi-five!Now let’s have a HUGE party and get out of each other’s hair.”
My soon-to-be ex-wife, bless her dark soul, published an essay about her feelings around our marriage in an online journal at the beginning of our separation.My friends and family were furious at her.I quote:
“I did not think of divorce. This was my family and I was in it for the long haul. (But) I… daydreamed of my husband not returning from his writing retreats. Not that he would die. Just that he would never return. And, I suppose, I finally recognized that it was an unhealthy relationship when an acquaintance lost her husband in a snowstorm and instead of feeling horror and grief for a widow and her two daughters I imagined myself in her place and the relief I would feel had I been her.”
While I appreciated my friends’ loyal reactions (not that he would die.Just that he would never return.What a bitch!), what I saw in my wife’s essay was a woman who felt caged—by me to a certain degree, but also by her own and our culture’s expectations about marriage.Would she be feeling this trapped if she wasn’t forced to be in it “for the long haul”? Was there a better, alternative way to do things?
Why does a marriage have to be endless for it to be deemed “successful”?I mean, think about it.What’s wrong with shorter marriage contracts?There are so many advantages to a seven-year marital contract I can’t even begin to list them. You’re in year six of your marriage, and instead of being bored of your wife’s pussy, because you’re stuck with it forever, you suddenly might lose it to her hot co-worker if she decides not to remarry you.How much better behaved are you going to be to each other if forever isn’t assumed?Or let’s say you’re seven years are almost up, and you decide you’re going to renew.You can get married AGAIN.Just think, a brand new set of dinnerware just as the original becomes outdated, and a month-long vacation in Bora Bora.And if you’re not getting along?Well that’s fine too.Nobody’s going to lay the big guilt on you.Marriage is tough and you lasted a while.Chin up and what’s next.
Clearly, there’s some gallows humor in this essay, and things aren’t as simple as I’m making them out to be.But a little less social stigma around divorce, and a little more acknowledgement for those toughing it out, might go a long way towards keeping married couples from wanting their partner to die in a snowstorm.