Saturday, June 5, 2010

Some Realities about Marriage

Interesting Op-Ed in the NY Times by Deirdre Bair, author of a book about late-life divorce. I notice the following things:

Some people would rather live alone. One divorced person of my acquaintance likes to say, "I have company when I want it and I am alone when I want to be alone." Bair says,
I found women who wanted a man who would take them dining and dancing, but then go home to his own bed and leave them alone until the next party.
Living with other people can be hard, and some people find that the effort is not worth the reward. And some people just prefer to live by themselves. Those people may find it worthwhile to have a spouse at a certain time of life, perhaps to raise children, but otherwise prefer to be single. Since there are so many single Americans over 50 now, these people can make friends and date if they want to.

Some people are looking to reset their lives and start fresh, and they find their spouses an obstacle:
Men and women I interviewed insisted they did not divorce foolishly or impulsively. Most of them mentioned “freedom.” Another word I heard a lot was “control”; people wanted it for themselves for the rest of their lives. Women had grown tired of taking care of house, husband and grown children; men were tired of working to support wives who they felt did not appreciate them and children who did not respect them. Women and men alike wanted time to find out who they were. . . . Margaret Mead thought every woman needed three husbands: one for youthful sex, one for security while raising children and one for joyful companionship in old age.
I find this a little sad. Our ideal of romance is that the right companion will support us through all our changes, will help us grow and change rather than hold us back. But obviously that is a fantasy that many marriages don't live up to. For many people, their spouses and how they interact with them are a huge part of the rut they want to get out of. To make a big change and a new start means divorce.

I have never been interested in condemning other people for their choices, and I think that most people who get divorced probably should. Who would know better than they do? What I take away from all of this is, first that happiness is hard; second, that as circumstances change, we need to be able to change with them; and third, that I am very lucky.

1 comment:

David said...

How about people who choose to vote Republican? God damn 'em, I say!

Or those who choose to watch QVC . . .