Musings from George


Wow. Marriage, divorce, commitment
March 24, 2008, 8:49 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Weird world that we live in. Two people who are close to me have learned that they are going through divorces because someone served papers to them. Not a surprise, no wonderment for either of them … but still, a somewhat hostile attack by the people that they had committed their lives to. I’m a cameo appearance for both plays, but the script still stings.

I was married once before, divorced once before. My ex-wife is happier in her second marriage (two cute boys, clear focus on her passion on riding and raising horses), I’m much happier in my second marriage (two cute kids, killing myself in high-tech and married to someone who has all my same strengths).

People struggle with the American dilemma that half of all marriages end in divorce, and that all publicly viewable marriages are dysfunctional (truly $4000 for two hours? How does that work?) As part of that weird world, I have to explain it — we marry someone based on all that we know at the time, and things keep changing over time. The person you marry is NOT the person you wake up next to ten years later. And that’s okay.

Kids make relationships sticky. If my first wife and I had had kids, we’d still be together — she is a wonderful, intelligent, compassionate woman. But we didn’t, and our interests diverged — so we sought a divorce. It isn’t failure, it isn’t “sinful”, it isn’t even a bad thing — it represents the old Robert Frost poem and two people taking slightly different paths through that yellow wood.

My second wife is great — unequivocally great. She sometimes remarks that our partnership is too good to be true, and that really reflects on her — she’s great to our kids, great to me, great to her friends, great to my friends. I can look at the bigger picture, knowing that my life was very different in my first marriage, and can see the difference. My friends who are being served divorce papers cannot see that — and to be fair, they have kids that are affected by the process so it is much harder / much uglier.

Why is divorce such an ugly stigma and ugly topic in the US? Why is it that half of all kids in Europe are born out of wedlock? When did we become so selfish that it wasn’t important to have a life together, before we made a life together?

My advice: I feared the judgement, I feared the failure that a divorce represents — and I was not judged, and I did not fail. We all have to recognize that people change, and if you find that your current partner is not someone you would marry today then you have to decide whether the pain of leaving is greater than the misery of staying. Work to make today good — if nothing you do can help with that, get out.

We went to church today. Part of the message was that John (the apostle) was asked by Jesus to look after his mother — “Mary, this is your son; John, this is your mother”. As I sat with my 3.5 year-old son on my lap, I have to admit that it made me tear up — how miserable would it be to attend your own child’s execution? and how hard would it be to ask someone else to take care of your mother, as you accepted an unfair death?

My grandmother spoke at my father’s funeral, and said: “He always said he would take care of me. And now he is gone. You don’t know how hard it is to bury your children, and to accept the fact that they aren’t of this world anymore.” It hit me hard — I take care of my mother, and many other people. Who is going to speak at your funeral? and who is going to miss yo? and are you proud of all that you are going to leave behind?

How do we all commit to being better people, and to being better partners? It is a daily struggle.

George

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