October 04, 2008

Not All Marriages Are Meant To Last

Some posts are sad by nature and some are sad by association. I am not sure if that makes sense to anyone else, but it does to me. And since this is my blog it is my vote that counts. Anyway as I grow older and presumably gain more wisdom I get to bear witness to more life experiences.

Marriage, divorce, childbirth, life and death. I have seen a little bit of everything. Can't say, or won't say that I consider myself to be an expert on any of it. But if there is one thing that I have learned it is that we all have separate paths to walk and that there is no one right way to live life.

Some people have accused me of trying to take a stance of being a fence sitter. I suppose that it is nice to live in a world in which everything is black and white, good or bad, etc. I wish that it were so easy. I wish that I could divide the world up in this manner, but I just can't.

It doesn't mean that there aren't areas in which I draw lines or that I don't have very clear feelings about what is right or wrong, I do. But I learned a long time ago that in some areas of life it is not so easy to make these claims.

Denise and I have been friends for many years. We met at youth group event a thousand years ago, attended the same summer camp and have a number of friends in common. I was at her wedding as she was at mine. So it is fair to say that we have been a part of each other lives and that we have grown up together.

A while back she confided in me that she and her husband were having some problems with their relationship. For a while I did nothing but listen and try to absorb it all. From an outsider's perspective you'd never guess that they were unhappy. They are good actors, but that also comes from trying to protect the children.

Anyway, Denise told me her story and then waited for my response. I was very cautious in how I replied. I tried to go for the safe response and suggested that she consider going to counseling with him. She told me that she really didn't see the point and that in her experience once the love was gone it never came back.

So I asked her if she wasn't going to go to counseling why she would stay in her marriage. In response she told me that her husband was a child of divorce and that he had told her about how horribly it had affected him.

I didn't say anything. She pressed me for a response and gave me the speech, "I won't be angry, just tell me." On a side note I hate that speech. It is no safer than the "does this make me look fat" talk.

Anyway, I hemmed and hawed and decided to give her my real opinion. Here is a rough outline:

1) I do not believe that all marriages are made to last.
2) Divorce doesn't have to be a nightmare for you or for the children. Sometimes it can be the best thing.
3) Staying married solely for the children is not always smart.

Please remember that I am not a doctor, social worker or miracle man, I just play one on television.

On a serious note, Denise was surprised when I told her that I didn't think that all marriages are meant to last and that I am not an advocate for staying married solely for the children.

I won't rehash the entire conversation, but I'll share this. I think that marriage is a wonderful thing that a good marriage is amazing. And I'll say as I have many times that relationships take work. You have to take care of them or they start to suffer and bad things can happen.

But the thing is that sometimes even if you try to take care of them you find that you and your partner grow apart. As you age sometimes you just go in different directions. Sometimes you can bridge that gap. Sometimes that works and sometimes you find yourself so far apart that you don't recognize the other anymore.

At some point you have to commit to working together to find new things in common or you have to accept that you have chosen to go a separate way. But if you do choose to take that separate path you are really sailing in uncharted waters.

Denise came right out and asked me if I thought that she should get divorced. I told her that I couldn't answer that question. I am not a part of that marriage. I can't say whether it is beyond repair or not. It is not my place.

All I can do is listen. I really don't know what she'll do. As our last conversation she was going to try and hang on until her youngest graduates high school. If I remember correctly that is around 14 or 15 years.

But if you ask me, it won't last that long. Based upon what she told me I just can't see it lasting that long. They don't do much as a couple anymore. They're more like roommates. She is a serious romantic. At some point in time she is going to miss that and she is going to begin to grow more irritated with him.

Unless something happens, I give it five years, but what do I know. I am not part of that relationship. Maybe it is better than she suggests.

Crossposted here.


Kate said...

I'm no expert, but from what I've seen, when you start asking friends, you're already considering ending things.

She's lucky to have a friend who listens without feeling the need to judge.

Jack said...

If you are asking people for advice it is already bad.