Divorce, Part II

While I’m at it, I would also like to address the bizarre notion that it is too easy to get divorced. I mean, sure, it might be easy if you have not been married very long and your lives have not been irrevocably altered and you don’t own any stuff and you don’t have any children. But from a societal standpoint, those are not the marriages we are worried about. Both parties go on as before, no harm, no foul.

For a long-term marriage that involves irrevocable changes (by which I mostly mean economic disempowerment of one party), stuff, and kids, divorce is anything but easy.

Side note: I read somewhere that before we had no-fault divorces, couples who wanted to split would simply decide to have her accuse him of adultery, even if he had done no such thing. That way, they could escape the marriage and no real harm would be done to him because male adultery was well tolerated. Is that true? I don’t know.

Anyway, disentangling oneself from a long-term marriage is a long, messy, painful, expensive process. It has multiple confusing steps and it’s rather terrifying.

You know what’s really too easy? Getting married.

Anyone can get married at pretty much anytime for any reason or no reason. You can get married by Elvis while blind drunk in the middle of the night. It’s so easy to get married one wonders if it might be a conspiracy on the part of the legal industry. Get as many suckers married as possible and then rake in the divorce money.

Nowadays even starry-eyed same-sex couples can get married in many places. It’s messy, painful, and expensive for them to get divorced, too. Suckers.

Strangely, even though divorce is so very common, we lack the vocabulary to describe the relationships it produces. For example, when you are separated but not yet legally divorced, what is that other person called? I’ve been using “almost-ex husband.” But some people linger in that state for years. There should be a word for it. And then there’s the family of the ex or the almost-ex. Is his mother my “almost-ex mother-in-law,” soon to be my “ex-mother-in-law”?

A few years ago, one of my blog friends had exactly this problem. She decided to call the guy in question “Expunge.” Clever, but with a tinge of derision. I won’t use that one.

Getting back to the point: I think the view that divorce is too easy again reflects the cultural belief that being married makes you a superior person and that those who divorce rightly should be punished. If zillions of people get divorced, it’s not because there is something broken about marriage as it is practiced in our world, it’s because we have not made divorce hurt quite enough.

Let me restate that in a non-sarcastic manner: If zillions of people get divorced, it is not because it is fun and easy to get divorced; it’s because marriage as it is practiced in our culture is not meeting the needs of our citizens.

There is so much more to be said about that, but that’s for another day.

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7 thoughts on “Divorce, Part II

  1. It took me 18 months and I called him Richard Cranium, but never, ever around the kids. A few years later I no longer have that need. I call my relatives I liked my in-laws still.

  2. It did. It was my idea, but it certainly wasn’t easy or fun. My four-year-old son asked my mother conversationally, “when are you getting your divorce?” Because he is a good conversationalist that way. She kinda said, “I already did.”

  3. I’ve never thought about the relative easiness or hardness of marriage in relation to the superior or inferior state of being married v. getting divorced. I think, in general, societal preference is for staying married because of something elusively referred to as, “stability.” I’ve always wondered, actually, why there’s a preference for “stability.” It seems to me that a person or people can be stable or unstable, dependable or undependable, regardless of whether or not they are married or divorced or whatever. But many people don’t seem to be able to maintain stability while divorced. I can’t say why that would be. Exactly. I mean, I can point to specific causes of specific types of instability in relation to divorce, like financial, for example, or employment, or maybe relational…I agree with you though, divorce is definitely not easy. It’s easier legally than it used to be, but still not easy.

    • If the stability of marriage were all we were after then same-sex marriage wouldn’t be controversial. I always thought it funny that so many people simultaneously decried the promiscuity of gay men and denied them the right to get stably, monogamously married.

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