Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Big D

Lately it seems like quite a few of my friends and acquaintances have found themselves in the middle of a life-changing but unfortunate event: divorce. On Sunday afternoon I got together with a few of my rescue friends to prepare for an upcoming fundraiser. One of them mentioned to me that she is getting divorced – it will be final in two weeks. I felt terrible for not having realized she was going through a tough time over the past few months. I gave her a call later in the evening and expressed concern that I had been an inattentive friend. “No, I just didn’t want to be that friend,” she said, “The friend who is always talking about her problems.”

I didn’t want to be overly nosy, but I couldn’t help but ask what had gone wrong. They had always seemed to me like such a great couple. He is vegan and she is vegetarian – he was always cooking something or other for her, seemed attentive to her needs. Meanwhile, P once made me a pancake (sometime in the late 90s, I think). I get my semi-annual "You look nice today" right on schedule (typically, once in the summertime and once around the holidays). My friend said that things had simply changed and that he wasn’t the person she thought he was. It sounds like things are pretty amicable between them. She just didn’t want to live out her life in a way that wasn’t genuine and true. The relationship became more wrong than right, I suppose.

A few other friends have gone through divorces recently. Varying reasons, I guess. Yesterday morning one of my mom friends posted on Facebook that her husband has cheated on her. She’s clearly devastated (she posted in the middle of the night – always a bad sign). Obviously it’s not clear at this point that their marriage will be dissolved, but I’m guessing she’s got a tough road ahead regardless. She described it as "the worst feeling in the world." 

Whenever I hear that a friend is going through a divorce, I can’t help but turn an eye inward and examine my own marriage. Are we sturdier than the others? What’s not to say he won’t come home tomorrow and tell me that he’s found his soul mate? What if I look into those brown eyes someday and not feel anything at all?

Generally speaking, I think our marriage does work well. We’ve been together for over 18 years, married for over 13. Before meeting P, I’d dated enough to know what I wanted and didn’t want. What I definitely did NOT want was someone who would smother me. I didn’t want a man who would call me ten times a day and ask way too many questions when I leave the house. P is not like that. Be careful what you wish for, though, because if I go on a solo vacation to visit my family out of state, I can be gone for a solid week and it won’t occur to him to call me even once. It’s not that he doesn’t love me, he’s just not the “oh I just wanted to hear your voice” type. I am surprised that his friends are still willing to be his friend – he doesn’t call them either.

I think the real key is that we have lots of things in common (food, music, etc.) but we don’t insist upon doing everything together. I always envision the two of us like a Venn diagram. Our circles intersect in such a way that the shared area is substantial without precluding independence. I think we communicate well and have respect for each other (even though P does collect comic books). Really, though, I don't know that our bond is any more or less tenuous than the ones my friends knew. I'm sure they thought their relationships were solid, too.  How does anyone really know?

3 comments:

Lisa said...

I always think "what went wrong" for those friends/family too... All I can do is pray that it never happens to me.

Just Lisa said...

This is something think about a lot, too. Why will it work with me and Wylee, when it doesn't work with anyone else?

I think part of what makes us work is that we're not afraid to call the other an idiot. :)

Beth said...

As clergy-people, my husband and I have seen many divorces. Every time we see another one, we find ourselves reflecting on our own relationship. It seems normal but I can't say that ours is any 'better' or 'more stable' than anyone else's marriage.