I have some friends who are getting a divorce after a double-digit, anniversary marriage. The only option for them both right now is out.
It saddens me because as much as they can’t make it work, a part of me feels they belong together. From a purely shallow standpoint, they look beautiful together. She is a stunning woman and as men go he could qualify as ‘pretty’. But apart from the esthetics of their union, only beautified more by the presence of their children, I am a believer in the sanctity and preservation of marriage. As I write this, I am hearing the collective judgements of people who inevitably have had no recourse but to end their marriages. There is no judgement in this post, simply my observation as a participant in my own marriage (a strong, but less than perfect union I might add).
Unfortunately, the reason most people divorce is that they are on opposite ends of the ring when trying to fix the union. The marriages that survive strife are those whose partners huddle together to fight for their relationship, putting all elements of pride and selfishness on the back burner while patience and love simmer in the forefront. There are irreparable situations and not everything is fixable, but I think if two people want to see something work, they can make it happen through effort, resolve and perseverance.
In speaking to other friends who have gone through divorce, I’ve heard about how one person waits and waits for a ‘change’ while the other person is oblivious their relationship is in trouble. Is this a communication issue or is it easier to suffer in silence until one can suffer no more? Should there be interim checks in the marriage process just like we have performance reviews at work to make sure that there are no surprises? How many of our marriages would survive when measured against a subjective rating system and subject to constructive criticism from a third-party? Does counseling really work or is it simply a scheduled hour to air your dirty laundry and cleanse your marriage palette?
I’ve been married almost twenty-three years and I am still in awe at the longevity of our union. What caliber of fortitude is required (from my wife, of course) to put up with someone as opinionated (this blog is no exception), insufferable and just plain ingratiating as me? I am perfectly self-aware that my behavior might have dissolved my union many years ago, so she must be doing something magical unbeknownst to me keeping us together.
Marriage is a no joke proposition, one requiring work on both sides to traverse the ebbs and flows of the violent seas amid perfectly placed bad days. But once in a great while, marriage is easy because there is palpable gratitude for the life built, genuine affection for each other and a silent bliss that propels a couple to face any forthcoming storms.
So I sit here looking at both of my friends, convinced of the genuine love they have for each other, as they both contemplate going nowhere else but out. I am sad for them and I wish I could fix it. But I can’t fix it because unlike the two of them who sit on opposite corners of the ring, this is not my fight – I’m simply a spectator.