Monday, December 01, 2008

Divorce is a Wonderful Thing

Everytime I see my Grandma I think, "Divorce is a wonderful thing". She would probably bemoan the surging popularity of divorce though, coming from a better time, the good old days of the depression where your father was most likely to die from WWI aka 'The Great War' while your husband was most likely to die of WWII.
You grew up in the great depression and not dying of polio or rubella made it through to adulthood.
Anyway I'm sure the 'good old days' are exaggerated. And I'm sure the 'ideal family' is one of these exaggerations.
Historically speaking I'm pretty sure the most popular form of marriage remains one man married to a whole bucketload of women. It's the law of the jungle.

But I don't really subscribe to a condemnation of the institution of marriage. I certainly don't celebrate it as any kind of significant achievement. But that said I do believe that at some point it is easier to marry someone you know, like and trust than continue through the fluctuations of the dating scene. Particularly for the purpose of molding kids in your own respective images. It helps to put in the face time.

But divorce is wonderful because it means you can fuck up your decision and not be stuck with it. And I firmly believe the large increase in divorces is merely indicative of the large number of poor decisions that resulted in getting married.

Things like lifecycle, money, convenience, pregnancy and spur of the moment romantic 'true love'. The myth of the perfect stranger.

I believe divorce instead allows for a social evolution, where we can move away from the 'love at first sight' criterion for marriage to looking towards the real reasons couples work. Even if it is something as banal and depressing as a 'high tolerance for boredom'.

Comparing the breakdown of the institution of marriage to days where if not outright being illegal divorce was a total social no go zone, you aren't going to be able to find out the reasons for divorce. Because your asking people that never felt they had the choice to do anything but stick with marriage.

Now though, now you can ask long standing couples why they stick together. Why she stuck around after he cheated on her, why he stopped cheating. Why you got divorced on the honey moon. Why you stick with someone you don't love but don't cheat on them. Why you never feel tempted to cheat. Why you knew after 6 years of dating that it was time to get married. Why you stuck together after the kids left home.

Eventually I'm sure we will find that the marriages that last won't have much relation to 'true love', 'love at first sight' or 'soulmates' but instead are those that were entered by people who put a lot of thought into what they were getting into and what they were foregoing by doing so.

Eventually it will just be a phenomena of solid commitment not social obligation entered into by people of the same psychological disposition. And there will be others that are perfectly comfortable having a string of temporary relationships with various people through the course of their lives who having the choice never bother with the pretense of monogomy.

And for that reason divorce is a wonderful thing.


mr_john said...

It may be old fashioned, but marriage is still a nice way to say to someone in front of all your friends and family "I intend to spend the rest of my life with you". In fact, that's all it's going to be for me and Shelley. Fuck the legal stuff. Damo is going to perform the ceremony and that's that. We'll get around to signing the document when it becomes inconvenient not to, but we'll still call ourselves married.

ohminous_t said...

Agreed, infact if there is one thing truly never romantic in a wedding ceremony, nor particularly inspiring it's that part where they talk about the legally binding document.

Particularly the 'a marriage is a binding relationship between man and woman to the exclusion of all others' I mean what if I want to marry an Elephant? Surely there is no more secure income generator in Melbourne than an elephant?