My former coworker had been married for only two years. I could tell from his demeanor that he was the one who left. He was embarrassed about his public failure and hadn't told many people. Despite his decision to leave, I imagine it was still a difficult one. Breaking up is never easy, especially after one has declared to the world, "'Till death us do part."
This news about my former coworker resulted in a conversation with my boss, a man who has been divorced for over 35 years. His one and only marriage lasted only a few months. "Unlike other peoples' responses," he said, "I congratulated him and told him I thought he was brave for leaving an impossible situation and for not attempting to fix something that couldn't be fixed."
Good point, I reluctantly thought, recalling all the pain I felt when my husband told me he was leaving. Then my boss continued, saying how he couldn't understand how marriage truly worked. How anyone could worry about another human's welfare in addition to their own. (Obviously he doesn't have children.) It was tough enough, he said, worrying about losing your own job or being able to pay taxes. Having to worry about a spouse as well doubled the pressure. He had no idea why anyone would want to put their faith and trust in another, open a joint checking account, or purchase joint property, etc. He loved living on his own.
"Living the selfish life," I added, "Doing what I want, when I want, and how I want it."
"Precisely," he said, perking up. "It's very satisfying." He then went on to say how it always irked him that society celebrated successful couples. "How about the single individual successfully living alone? Why aren't they rewarded with praise?"
Indeed, why not? I thought, knowing my boss shirked all parties and get-togethers, and spent most of his free time watching baseball with his two dogs and cats. I have no pat answers to this strange discussion. I was simply happy to get as much from this man as I did. In fact, from now on, quite a few of my posts will center around other middle-aged people's thoughts about divorce, marriage, and the single life. So stay tuned. Meanwhile, here are two links for a man going through divorce. No matter what sex you are, the process is tough.
- Here's an old interview by Bill Ritter, but current in thought and feeling. Men After Divorce/Walkaway Wives