I have become bitter about marriage. I know a couple where the woman is an animal communicator and the boyfriend is a chef. They recently became engaged. He thinks it is perfectly acceptable that she can tell him what the cat or the turtle are thinking and she coo’s about his cooking because she “can’t cook a thing.” In my cynicism, I can forecast with confidence that within five years of being married he will scoff at her ability to talk with animals and she will tell him if he makes enchiladas for dinner one more time she will drive his prized knife through his heart.
When I see beautiful homes for sale on the country road that connects my town to Ft. Collins, I inevitably think: “Divorce.” Because nobody would sell such a precious house on a lake unless they were divorcing and needed to sell the house to split the profits. “Well, that’s a sad way to go through life,” I can hear you thinking. Yeah? Prove me wrong.
My first husband’s parents were married for 50 years and his mother told the same story over and over. She wanted to divorce her husband after their first year of marriage and went to her parents, but they told her no. 49 years later when he lay dying of prostate cancer in their living room, after being given a little too much morphine by the hospice nurse, his mother was sitting at the desk writing bills. He died. She mailed off the bills. The end.
My second husband’s parents divorced when he was 12 or 13 and his sister even younger. His father practiced infidelity with no shame and after his mother’s ultimatums went unaddressed, she divorced him. He then set out to starve them by refusing to pay child support, thereby reducing them to hotdogs and macaroni and cheese for five years while she worked her way up in a bank. My own parents married after having known each other four months when they got pregnant with me. She was an undiagnosed manic depressive and it turns out my father was afraid of undiagnosed manic depressives, so, you know, not the healthiest match.
And, obviously, I’ve had two husbands which equaled 23 years of marriage altogether and consider myself lucky to have survived the OCD, the hoarding, the abuse. My eyebrows disappear when I hear a woman who has been twice divorced longing for husband #3. Inevitably, after a bit of probing, it turns out she has done nothing to change her life, thinking or habits that might procure her a better and healthier marriage than the last two fiascos. She just “wants” it. So in my mind, she is merely marrying ex-husband #3. Which, if nothing else, at least takes any surprise out of it.
I am also not a fan of long-lasting marriages which are merely a facade for 1. Contempt 2. Abuse 3. Fear of loneliness. (See first husband’s parents’ marriage). I had a friend of 17 years come and visit me last summer. We had only ever met up on vacations or business events and shared rooms and seminars. I had never met her husband. She was supposed to come out and stay with me a few days and he would meet up with her to attend a local wedding. But, he is afraid to fly alone, so he tagged along on the four day visit to my house.
He got drunk every night like it was an Olympic sport. Down went the beer, down went the wine, the Guinness, the whatever-alcohol-he-could-get-his hands on. I’m no teetotaler but my chardonnay use had nothing on him. He’d slur, get mean, and pass out. So this was the 35 year old marriage we’d all been told was so wonderful? Annette would feign innocence and pretend this was all normal. During the day he would become demanding, irritable, contemptuous and my friend, the MBA, would apologize and become meek. I would just stare at him with hooded eyes.
On our final day together we went to lunch at a Mexican restaurant. He ordered a Guinness of course, and started to tell a long, boring story about one of his friends. I was eating the chips and mentally cleaning my house when Annette added a helpful anecdote about his friend. I thought he was going to bite her. My head snapped to attention as he said like a drill sergeant to a cadet:
“Did. I. Ask. You. For. Your. Input?” he managed through gritted teeth.
“No, but…” stuttered Annette.
“God, can’t I just tell a story without you interrupting?!”
“But I was adding to it,” she apologized.
“Don’t.” he said.
So this was the delightful love story I’d been propagandized about for the last 17 years. I have many other examples of these so called successful marriages but I won’t bore you with the details. Now, whenever someone tells me they’ve been happily married for 15, 20, 30 years, I just smile at them wistfully, like I used to when my son was young and would lie, hoping to get what he wanted.
Author: Deborah Coyote
Author Bio: Deborah Coyote has been writing for 35 years and lives with her dog Kai in the rocky mountains. She is currently in Graduate school studying to become a licensed professional counselor. You can find her on instagram at Deborah_Coyote.