Divorce: We say it could never happen to us, but could it?

Disclaimer: I usually don’t write personal posts on this blog – I save them for the other one that no one reads. 🙂 But I’m trying something new. If this isn’t your particular brand of vodka, please skip.

It recently hit me – for the first time perhaps – that the reality of marriage isn’t all that far off. Whereas for girls my age, the prospect of marriage is already weighing on them, for most gentlemen I”m friends with, it’s something we don’t discuss, something that just isn’t a concern yet. I have always thought of marriage as something that comes in the distant future, after I grow up, almost as though it’s something that’ll happen to someone else – a different Prasid. A taller, skinnier, more-mature, successful, well-dressed Prasid in a black suit and red bowtie, marrying a beautiful and equally-successful, equally-tall girl in a red saree that matches his bowtie. I think perhaps this is part of some deeper problem – some inability to see the person I want to become, my goals and ambitions, and then connect that back to the life-path I’m currently on.

In describing why I read Bill Clinton’s autobiography, I once told someone that I wanted to know more than just what he did as President, I wanted to take the goal of “being President of the United States” and then connect that ambition back to the life-path he took to get there, and trace it back to where I am now. I didn’t get the unvarnished truth – I really should read biographies rather than autobiographies.

In any case, it finally occurred to me that I’m 26, I’m done growing taller, I’ve lost the weight, and I’m not getting any smarter, so the consciousness I have today, the body that I have today, isn’t too far from the consciousness and body I’ll have when I get married. It won’t be someone else, an entirely different taller-older-wiser person – it’ll be me.

Now, facing the prospect of marriage, means also coming to terms with the real possibility of divorce. I grew up a romantic. I didn’t think I’d drink until I did. I didn’t think I’d hookup with girls, until I did. I didn’t think I’d ever hurt a girl, until I did. And I don’t think I’ll ever get a divorce, but whose to say?

I grew up thinking that I was smarter than most, more in touch with my feelings, more moral, and would find someone who truly fit me, and be with them forever. I grew up believing that family was unbreakable – that no matter how much I might hear my parents fight downstairs, in another hour it would be over, and everything would go back to normal. I was lucky enough to grow up without any doubt about the strength of their marriage, perhaps because they hid their own doubts from me. And so now I believe if I ever make that unbreakable vow to someone, it will be forever. Yet as I look around at other smart self-aware people, I see them getting divorces, I see them calling the cops on their husbands, I see married friends flirting with exes, I see them playing with their lives and marriages as though this is high school dating and there are no consequences.

And now I’ve started down the same path. I can see myself slowly doing things that the old me might now have approved of. And I justify it because I treat it like I’m still in high-school, like we’re still just having fun, because we’re not playing in the majors yet – because this isn’t my real life yet – this isn’t that other more serious Prasid yet. But perhaps the only way I’ll bridge the gap from my life-path to serious-Prasid’s life-path is by trying. By being the mature older guy.

Perhaps I’m just not ready yet. Maybe it’ll just take me a couple more years of having fun. Or, perhaps, I don’t have someone to grow-up for. Maybe the more-serious man doesn’t emerge until he is needed, until the universe requires it from him. Or until a woman expects it of him. Finally, perhaps I’ve spent my entire life waiting for my real life to begin. I know in my heart that, at least when it comes to relationships, I’ve spent my entire life waiting to lose weight so that my real dating-life could begin. Well, I’m close enough, and we’re certainly playing with live ammo now.

Here’s another thought: I recently read an article that suggested that today we’ve bought into this fairly-tale of uncompromising, eternal love. We all want someone to find the perfect someone – the perfect soul-mate who is our complement and equal and loves us for who we are, quirks and all. We all expect so much – the fairy-tale – and we’ve forgotten that love is flawed and imperfect and messy. We’ve forgotten that the vows we take are not just to each other, but to the institution of marriage, which our culture used to revere as bulletproof, impenetrable, but which today is thin and rife with escape hatches. We’ve lost our commitment to slugging-it-out in the trenches to make it work. We are convinced we can find someone better outside the relationship, when perhaps the truth is that we can make it work with anyone, if only we are willing to stay and fight.

I wish I had a few older-brother figures to have a serious conversation with about marriage and divorce. I can only hope that somehow, as we watch on the sidelines as others play the game, we are learning something, internalizing some desire to avoid these same mistakes. I can only hope that I stop waiting for my turn, that I get off the bench, and play as though we’re in the majors. I guess we’ll see.

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5 thoughts on “Divorce: We say it could never happen to us, but could it?

  1. It’ll be naive of our generation to rule out divorce as a possibility, but I don’t think the possibility should scare someone from marriage. There’s a “what if?” to everything, but we’re just more confident about some decisions more than others, and the “what if” gets blocked out. I also think some people are willing to work through the real problems than others.

    Matters of the heart should be handled with care, without any game-playing and the flirtations. So I hate when I see people in a serious relationship knowingly act inappropriately. And of course, I can’t stop them if they think it’s just “fun”.

    You’ll know when you need to be serious about things in life, but whether you’ll realize that before, during, or after the fact is where it gets foggy.

  2. Sonya says:

    “You’ll know when you need to be serious about things in life, but whether you’ll realize that before, during, or after the fact is where it gets foggy.”

    I think Sonya you mean “YOU WON’T KNOW WHEN YOU’VE TO BE SERIOUS ABOUT THINGS”.

    I’d say “YOU NEED TO BE SERIOUS NOW! THIS IS IT! LIFE IS NOT A DRESS REHEARSAL.”

  3. Prasid – You know my story….married 23 years to my high school sweet heart, great life, 2 great kids, great jobs, great house, great vacations, everything P-E-R-F-E-C-T…..divorce would never happen to us, so I thought. Divorce was never in my vocabulary. We never talked about it….but we should have. Keeping a relationship especially marriage is a very difficult task. In involves two people with different minds, views, opinions, attitudes and behavior.

    Jobs, kids and other responsibilities also make it hard to focus on each other and sometimes marriage becomes a routine instead of a happy, healthy and loving relationship.

    Marriage has its ups and downs and sometimes you get confused on how to make things work. I was married at 22 years old, right out of college. Was I in love? I thought I was at the time, but now I don’t know. I was in love with the “institution of marriage” I’m sure of that! And now, 23 years later, I’m divorced, single and starting over. When I saw your blog on divorce, I knew you were pondering relationship questions that I should have thought about many, many years ago. People say it’s good to “learn from the mistakes of others.” So, Prasid my friend, what have I learned?

    Open communication. This is a very important factor in marriage. In the beginning, good, intimate and frequent conversation comes easy. But as the years go by, life becomes routine and the conversation even more routine “did you pick-up the kids”, “where is Johnny’s baseball bag”, “can you stop at the store?” When you’re both busy with work and kids, you start to just go through the motions, and the relationship will start to get shaky. Sure, everything SEEMS fine but have you asked your spouse if everything is okay? Probably not. Effective communication is always important in any marriage. Open communication is #1.

    Love your spouse unconditionally. In marriage you will find out that your partner is not as perfect as you think he or she is. You will discover flaws, faults and a lot more. But you also have to realize that you have faults too and you are not perfect. This is where unconditional love comes in, loving your spouse unconditionally despite of his or her flaws. You will need to accept that you and your spouse are not perfect and have to love each other unconditionally.

    I wish someone had given me a little marriage advice many years ago. But then again, would I have listened?

  4. Pingback: dan

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