Let's Call the Whole Thing Off!

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

They’re called divorce suits, because nothing but a divorce seems to suit.  

Henny Youngman 

Cemetery Flowers

 

When I first thought about doing this blog, about two years ago,  I wasn’t sure that divorce was still a “hot topic.” Then I saw the mini-series, Starter Wife, with Debra Messing and realized that divorce is still a household word.  But when I saw the article last week on the Internet from The Atlantic by author Sandra Tsing Loh, I knew that the subject of divorce is still a difficult, but timely topic.

Sandra, married 20 years, opens her article with the statement, “Sadly, and to my horror, I am divorcing…..”  I remember when people asked me if I was over my divorce, and I thought, How can you be over something that took 30 years of your life?  Instead, I choose to say I survived my divorce, but barely.  I also remember when Molly Katzen, famous cookbook author of The Moosewood Cookbook and others,  was asked how she survived her divorce.  She said she didn’t. She died and was reborn. I can certainly identify with that statement!

 

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Again, in the Internet article,  Sandra goes on to ask, …”isn’t the idea of lifelong marriage obsolete?” According to the author, Americans have the highest divorce rate in the Western world, which she attributes to  the paradox of holding onto two cultures at the same time: a culture of marriage and a culture of individualism.  My take on this is that with Betty Friedan’s ground-shattering book, The Feminine Mystic, those of us brought up in the 50s and 60s started to rethink our role as “housewives.”  We wanted to have the same opportunities as our spouses, even if that meant being on our own.

What is even more upsetting to me is that the rate of divorce in second marriages (about 60%)  is higher than in first (about 50%).  Now that I am married a second time, this statistic gives me food for thought, because having divorced once, if there is a next time, will I survive emotionally and financially, when I am already at an age when holding down a full-time job  would be difficult?

 

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The article does not end on a happy note, but then divorce is not easy, even when it is amicable.  There is a lot of history to sort through and a great deal of rethinking and recreating of your life after many years with the same person, whether the years were good or bad.  Loh suggests a different kind of living relationship, one that does not include monogamy, which many Americans find unsavory.

I think each woman has to figure out what works for her and help those around her understand that, without being in sync or at peace with herself, she won’t function at her best. Children always seem to suffer, but better to have one loving parent than two parents always yelling at or ignoring each other. In the end, each of us must sort out the pros and cons of marriage and divorce and do whatever works best.

 

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Speaking of which, over the week-end I saw Woody Allen’s movie, Whatever Works, which involves marriage and divorce.  It is cynical, funny, sad, and very Woody Allen.  I think whatever works for you may create pain for others in the beginning, so when you venture into the maze and daze of divorce, tread lightly and lovingly with those you care about, while also taking care of your own heart. As my friend Daniel says, Love cannot be hurt.♥

To read the entire article: On Marriage: Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off, Google the article’s name and the site will come up. Thanx to my friend Honey for alerting me that the address I first posted did not work.

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