I was twelve– nearly thirteen– when my parents divorced. When they sat down with me and my brother on the deck of our house, whatever warm late-summer evening it might have been, telling us that they had decided to end their marriage after seventeen years, I was not surprised. More than anything, I was relieved. I’m sure there was a time when my parents liked each other, probably even loved each other, but that time had since passed, and now my dad had taken to sleeping on the couch. It was upsetting to watch them constantly be at each others’ throats, and worse yet that the arguments managed to continue even after they weren’t even in the same place– there was a lot of under-the-breath commenting in the laundry room, in the car on the way to school, as one watered the lawn and the other, each just wanting out.
I write these things, of course, from the perspective of someone who has lived roughly half of her life with divorced parents. And I will repeat– I was relieved. I knew, even then, that the marriage wasn’t making either of them happy, and that it was beyond the point of being salvaged. I was relieved then and feel pretty lucky now that everything that followed went the way it did: my dad moved out, but never missed an opportunity to be around for me and my brother; my mom eventually remarried a man who makes her happy and truly cares about us, all of us, as a family; my once-broken and now reformed (mutated?) family that includes me, my mom, my dad, my stepdad, my brother, and a stepsister, regularly splits holidays and attends special events together, with no ruffled feathers or raised voices. I am incredibly lucky.
As GP and I move closer and closer to our wedding date, I am thinking more and more about the ideas I was presented about love and marriage growing up: love is a leap of faith, and marriage requires constant attention and nurturing. We are not religious people, GP and I, but we believe in love as if it were a prayer, an altar, a relic. I am not daunted by what my parents went through– I am hopeful that I have learned the lessons available to me on both what to do and what not to do. I will be the wife that I want and need to be…minus the occasional disagreement over taking out the trash (boy chore!) or washing the dishes as a team (just leave me alone, it gets done faster that way!).
And yes, of course I have to comment on the media-saturated divorce of Jon and Kate (of “Plus Eight” fame). I became a fan within the last year, but loved to watch all! those! cute! kids! Also, sometimes Kate would remind me of my mom, all Type-A and whatnot. It was easy to see how their marriage would be challenging– twins before even a couple years of marriage, and eight children before either of them was thirty would be enough to drive any couple apart. It was hard to watch last night’s “special announcement” (which– come on, there is the internet now, how are we possibly going to be surprised by this news?) episode because, in separate interviews, neither of them took any of the responsibility. “I’m here for the kids,” each said. And me? Well, Jon and Kate, I am here to call bullshit. I would have loved to have seen them at least attempt to talk about their problems together (hey, like grownups!), and am sort of dreading the episode when they tell the kids about it (you know it’s coming! It’s going to be awful!). Did you watch? What did you think?