Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I Don't Want to Hear It

I don't know if it's because Owen has been really whiny this week because he has this terrible cough or what, but I'm tired of hearing this, "Despite the fact that our marriage is dissolving, we're going to remain the best of friends. We are totally committed to making our friendship last." Or "I will always love so & so with all my heart, but our schedules have prevented us from making this marriage work."

I realize the various reasons why people end marriages is a private affair and it is none of my business, but what I don't want them to do is tell me that they are ending one of the most important bonds between people because of a scheduling conflict. You cancel playdates and nights out because of scheduling conflicts--you don't end marriages.

I also don't want them to tell me that they are going to still be best friends. Really? I married my husband because he was my best friend. I wanted to be around him all the time; I didn't think I could find anyone else better suited to my personal needs and desires. Have you ever read Little Women by Louisa M. Alcott? The ending to that books drives me bonkers because Jo, who has always been best friends with her next door neighbor, who is a male, does not marry him. In the end, they determine that the marriage would've never worked because they were the best of friends. What?!?!? Then you find out that the author never married and you think, "Yeah, now I know why this ending is ridiculous!"

Not that I want each spouse to come out swinging and throwing mud at each other. I just really don't want my kids to grow up hearing that people who were best friends just couldn't make it work. If they fall for this message, what will prevent them from thinking their own marriage is a failure when it isn't all fun and games. There is a lot of simple day-to-day monotony in every marriage. Not that I'm advocating staying in an abusive marriage or one that is unrepairable.

When I worked as a legal secretary/paralegal, we had a couple come into the office once who wanted a divorce. They were completely amicable with each other. They had already decided how everything was going to be divided and all they needed was an attorney to write up the legal papers. In my little experience with divorces, that one was the most difficult for me to understand. I just kept thinking, "Would a counselor be able to save this?" I wanted to see some passion, some anger, some...emotion!

So, next time one of these couples ends a less than perfect union, here's what I'd like to hear:

"We couldn't make this marriage work. I want a career more than I want a spouse." Or, "We got married in the heat of passion and have regretted not having any common goals to work toward." That's not good news, but it is the truth.


Lara said...

I wrote a similar post about a year ago. I just feel like the reasons people are choosing to end their marriages are completely ridiculous. Of course there are justfiable reasons for divorce, but too many marriages end for seemingly trivial reasons.

On another note, I really like the rings you pictured. Makes me want a new ring. :D

Audrey said...
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Audrey said...

FYI: These rings belong to Eva Longorian and Tony Parker.

Mariley Johnson said...

Okay...I want to know who is ending their marriage because of a scheduling conflict? If that's why it doesn't work, we all would be single!
Here's the flip side of that. We are committed and know we want to be together, but we still aren't ready to be married. But, that's an entirely different post. Work on that one will you?

JenW said...

that's some nice bling...maybe in my next life...hmmmmm....but seriously, it is becoming so commonplace for marriage to mean nothing. people seem to have more affection for their pets than their spouse these days...why is that...all of those prophecies about the last days and how natural affections would turn away are really true huh? sad but true...let's not be a statistic, okay? okay! because really, we don't see our husbands all that much these days and we still like each other:)

Lacey said...

SO where did this pent up frustration come from Audrey?

I agree with what you said..sadly, our society is always looking for a quick fix and marriage nowadays is one of them...I had a friend I worked with that was so shocked when Chris and I got engaged....she thought I was way too young to get married but yet she was living with her boyfriend! I told her flat out..the only difference between what we are doing and what you guys are doing is my man forked the money out for a ring and is COMMITTED!
I'd take that over any live in situation!

mmhamblin said...

So, did you hear about that senator(I can't remember from which state) who wants to pass a law that would dissolve all marriages after 7 years unless you had it renewed? Isn't that crazy!

Julie said...

This casual attitude about marriage really is a problem... and it is creeping in everywhere! Someone close to me is freaking out about the possibility of marrying the guy she has been dating for awhile. For one thing, she's scared it won't last, and for another, she figures what's the point of getting married in the first place? There seems to be nothing I can say that can convince her of the value of a a good, working marriage. Emphasis on the "work".

Thanks for your thoughts, Audrey.

rachel said...

I have noticed these same things and you know I have really been trying to figure it out. I have come to the realization that instant gratification and lack of sacrifice is ruining our society along with idolatry and bunch of other scriptural related doctrines. You had an awesome post about putting your spouse first and I think people have forgotten in general how important it is to have sacrifice in our lives. We know its a law but how is someone who is raised in an era with the internet - info at our fingertips, fast food -food at our fingertips, video games and movies entertainment at our fingertips, supposed to grasp the importance of lasting relationships,hard work and sacrifice. Sorry for the novel but I have been pondering this one for a while.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you that marriage and divorce should not be taken causually.
That said, I think that it shows a great deal of Christ-like love and forgiveness to not air out your former spouse's problems to curious minds. Really, whose right is it to know? It is between you, your spouse, your kids, and God. Especially when there are children involved, I think it is much better to tell the sweet lies of "due to scheduling conflict" and "best friends", then the kids don't have to hear crap about a parent from friends or relatives. Would you really want anyone thinking ill of your kid's father? Even if the father deserved it, the kids do not.
We have all seen what happens when celebrities breathe a hint of issues in their failed marriage, the public eats it up and speculates the worst. I applaud those who are able to show a kind heart and not tarnish their former spouse's image.
When a marriage and divorce is taken casually, yes that is wrong. But we don't have the right to judge that that was the case. We don't have the right to know the details of other people's failed marriage. They only have the responsibility to share the truth with each other, their kids, and God.

Audrey said...

I have to disagree. This post is about what is stated to the public. As I stated and agree with you--the dirty details should be left unsaid. My parents are divorced and both of them had the courtesy to not speak ill of each other to me, but they didn't insult my intelligence by saying that it was some trivial, totally worked out issue that ended their union.
Our kids are listening to what we say, what the media says. When they hear that a marriage can be ended for no more reason than a scheduling conflict, that is not acceptable. I'd rather hear, "We weren't able to make our marriage work." Than I would, "We refuse to schedule time for each other."
If scheduling is a reason to cancel a marriage, my husband and I would have some serious issues as would most marriages. How many couples do you know where the spouse travels a good deal or works much more than 40 hours a week?
What you tell your family and children is private and should remain so, but please don't send the message to me or my kids that your marriage was dissolved for trivial reasons.

Anonymous said...

As an intruder anonymously commenting on your blog, you have every right to delete my comments with no hard feelings from me.
Of course how you raise your children is up to you, but I respectfully disagree with your opinion.
I think that "friends" and "scheduling conflict" explanations are a wonderful opportunity to teach our children about not only the importance of taking marriage seriously (as your point said), but also about gossip and unnecessary uninformed judgment. I personally hope that the reasons people give the public for ending their marriage become more trivial and rediculous, such as:
"He just could not accept that my two inch high little purple friends were real"
"I realized I didn't like the color green on him"
"He refused to cut my sandwiches diagnally."
I think it is a wonderful opportunity to remind people that it is not their business. The statement "we just could not make our marriage work" implies that they both tried every route and nothing worked for them. I think that statement is more dangerous than any I mentioned above. I want my kids to be taught that if both people try unselfishly to make a marriage work, using every tool they find, it has a very high chance of succeeding.
But I am just sharing my own point of view and I respect that your's is different. Whatever we disagree on, I hope that we both can use what is told the public as a teaching experience for our kids.

Bethany said...

I love Little Women... but truth be told, LMA really botched it up when Jo married the old guy. I feel bitter about it every time I read the book.

Audrey said...
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JM said...

Oh, dear. At least I'm not the only opinionated chick in the world. Though, this time I am inclined to agree with everyone, I guess. If someone is getting divorced, it should be for a bloody MUCH better reason than "scheduling conflicts", which amounts to "I didn't try." They SHOULD try. If they weren't planning to try, then they certainly shouldn't have married one another in the first place. People who don't want to try and hard as they need to for the sake of their marriage would be much happier living together and moving out without needing a divorce decree once they discovered that he leaves up the toilet seat and she squeezes the toothpaste in the wrong place. You're not gonna try, just shack up.

However, to say "We just couldn't make it work..." OR to say "I didn't like the color green on him" is STILL making excuses. And that right there, everyone, is the problem. WHY DO WE FEEL A NEED TO MAKE EXCUSES? The bottom line is "It's no one's business but ours as to why this divorce is requisite; please just understand that we're attempting to create an amicable situation, and that we will not be speaking ill of one another either in public or around our children." None of this "we tried" or "scheduling conflict!" or "diagonal sandwich" bunk...What about sustaining the privacy of our union, failed or not, and our family?

But again, the reasons offered by most people today are ludicrous and give off an inappropriate message...as does offering a reason at all. It's none of my business that he cheated, that she didn't want to leave her job to move cross-country, that they didn't agree on how to raise their children, that the toilet seat was a serious issue, or that "their schedules conflicted." I just want to know that the innocents involved -- the children, if there are any -- come out of a divorce as unscathed as humanly possible, and that means that NO excuses are offered, only self-control.

Great blog, Aud! And go with Mariley's idea: what to do when you're everything but committed. (grrrrr.)

Zim Family said...

I am scared to think what marriage will mean when it is time for my kids to get married. Probably won't have to be between a man and a woman. Probably will rarely happen. Probably can get a divorce in 5 minutes for 5 bucks on the internet. Society's mindset on marriage and divorce is so flawed, it is really scary. It seems to me people are getting married because it is the "in" thing to do right now. And it doesn't matter, because they can get divorced at any point and do it all over again. What happened to marriages and divorces being a big deal??

citymama1 said...

Interesting post. I'm of the opinion that most of the time, it's just none of my business. This may seem a bit callus but, unless it's someone I care about in an abusive relationship, I just don't care. There are people who are "bad influences" all around. This is inevitable and unchangeable. The only thing in my control is my own marriage and my own family. It's "hard work" enough to focus on making my own marriage work, and I have no need or interest on finding out why so-and-so's didn't. It's just none of my business. I try not to judge them, love them through the difficult time and try to learn from others' mistakes.

As far as it's effect on my children, it's just a fact of life. Olivia has a little friend who's parent's are divorced and I've had to explain why Sophia's daddy doesn't live with her. It sucked, and it freaked her out. But it offered a great opportunity for me to talk to her about my own marriage, commitment, and eternal marriage. (Well, as much as you can explain to a 4 year old) She seemed to understand and hasn't mentioned it again. We are the most important influence in our children's lives. I think so often we worry about outside influences when really we should be concentrating on inside ones.

JLJ said...

Interesting post and interesting comments. Did you know that in Utah (perhaps in other states too) in order to file for divorce you must attend a divorce 101 class? But I've never heard of any requirement to get a marriage license. I think most people reading this blog have good common sense, but there are an abundance of people out there who are lacking. There are people who get married that have no clue that they will have to sacrifice and forgive. Maybe they genuinely are splitting up because of "scheduling conflicts?"

Sabina said...

Very interesting post and comments Audrey. I'm watching very closely the divorce process and the aftermath that follows. I had no idea that even a "nice" divorce could be so very painful. What I have noticed is that it doesn't ever end. It's not like you get a divorce and then the union is over. There are issues, hurts, decisions, problems, and challenges that continue to pop up that the couple have to work through. It is such a difficult process. Once that union is formed I don't believe it can ever be completely severed. I think people are being naive to think that they are getting out of their troubles. Really they are just creating a new set.

Lauren and Trevor said...

Audrey, this was a thought provoking post. I also appreciated the perspectives in the responders’ comments. This may seem tangential, but I recently learned of a study on American mothers. In summary, the results indicated that a significant number of American mothers do not enjoy spending time with their children. This was especially interesting in light of the finding that most of these same women placed their children at the top of the list of the things they valued most. Upon further investigation it was discovered that the explanation for this seeming paradox was that the after school time these parents spent with their children tended to be infused with a million other activities (e.g., making phone calls, emailing, finishing projects for work, etc). In essence, these parent’s were trying to do so many different things and going in so many different directions that adding children into the mix only made situations more hectic and stressful. While a certain amount of business is healthy and inevitable, I believe there is an important lesson here. Doing too many good things at the same time may actually lead to bad. Indeed, often less is more. I recently heard an analogy that applies here. Let’s say you take your favorite song and listen to it and on a scale from one to ten you rate it a 10. Then you take your second favorite song and listen to it and on a scale from one to ten you give it a 10 as well. But now play them together. What do you get? You don’t get a 20, you don’t even get a 10—you get noise. And so it is with our lives, too much of even good things all at the same time can lead to deleterious consequences. There is a great need to simply our lives just as Elder Oaks taught last conference. Maybe scheduling really is a much bigger detriment to marriages than we realize. How easy it is to pack in so many good things that there is no quality time left over to devote to our kids or spouse. Of note, almost all parenting programs emphasize the importance of “special time,” meaning individual one-on-one time with each child where they get to positively interact with you as the sole focus of your attention. This is not only crucial to the upbringing of well-adjusted children however, such specific nurturing is also essential to a successful marriage. For as long as I can remember the brethren have encouraged continued courtship, even weekly dating. Do we realize how vital this really is? I would argue that almost all newlyweds placed their spouse at the top of the list of things they most valued, but how often do schedules reflect this in the long run. I believe that only when the allocation of our time and energy parallels our values’ list will we be truly happy in life in general, and especially in marriage.