Thursday, January 18, 2007

Starry-Eyed about Divorce

On December 27th I posted about my continuing un-engaged state even though I'm 40 and have been involved for a year with a guy who is 44. While I don't feel ready for marriage or even engagement right now, I'm aware of society's heavy expectation that this guy and I should be tying the knot sometime soon -- c'mon let's go, it can't be soon enough, we're 40 and 44 and neither has been married before, for God's sake, time's a-wastin'.

I got some great input (see the comments for that post), including some from Thomas Westgard who has offered the first statement on divorce that helps me understand how much it truly sucks. I haven't been able to understand that up until now and have mainly just envied people who are divorced. Why the hell would I envy divorce? Because of how single people in the dating world (which is my entire universe) react to never-married's as opposed to divorcees: we never-married's who are past a certain age (around 30 yrs. for women, maybe 36 for men) are not to be touched. Society also sees marriage as a rite of passage and I am suspect for never having participated, even if it had ended in divorce. Being never-married is seen as so much worse than being either married or divorced that I've reached the point of envying both states. The state of being married and the state of being divorced are considered normal, and I long to be normal. I thank Thomas for making the pain of divorce clearer to me so I can release my feeling of being left out of a club that everyone else seems to be in.

I have often wondered about the children of divorced couples. Raising children in a post-divorce family does seem like the main drawback to getting married and then divorced. I also don't know what it's like to be the child of divorced parents, although I used to envy them, too. When I was growing up it seemed like having divorced parents would at least gain you some peace and quiet at home. My parents' marriage did not allow much peace and quiet.

Thus did I grow up believing that divorce is a better idea than marriage. I have to admit, sometimes I still look at it this way. When I consider marrying my boyfriend, I know the consequences of that action could very well be divorce. Nora Ephron, in her book I Feel Bad About My Neck, gives the advice that you should never marry a man you think would make a bad ex-husband. I think considering what divorce would be like is a very practical thing to do when considering getting married. I believe my boyfriend would actually make a great ex-husband and that feels important. Since I don't want to have children and neither does my boyfriend, we can at least avoid that particular pain of divorce.

Does it seem grisly to be thinking so much about divorcing my boyfriend when we haven't even gotten to the engagement ring? It seems practical to me, although I admit that I do tend to be the eternal pessimist. Marriage and divorce are so commonplace in the United States that either is considered more acceptable than never having been married at all. I carry the stigma of the spinster and have longed to upgrade to married or at least divorced status, but Thomas Westgard's portrait of divorce has now taken the stars out of my eyes about it.

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