Last month, Bette Midler admitted that she and her husband used to fight like cats and dogs, but despite the dark days of their marriage, they never divorced … for the sake of their daughter.
I really don’t want to sound like a hypocrite. My marriage is its own roller coaster at times. But marriage is hard work (like duh, right)? And I just wish more young couples of our generation would fight for their marriages with their blood, sweat and tears the same way Bette did. The same way I do, and plan to keep doing. Too many people are throwing in the towel for reasons that seem a tad selfish these days.
New York Mag, for example, featured a survey conducted in 2003 by Penn State in a recent article. Of the two dozen or so reasons why many couples put a permanent expiration date on their marriages, infidelity, incompatibility, and simply growing apart from your partner are some of the top ones.
Thinking about these supposed good reasons for splitting, I can’t help but wonder: are we giving up too easily these days? Next month I’ll be married for ten years. It’s not always easy, and adding two small people to the mix makes it even harder. But for every heated argument, every spat, and every time I’ve wanted to ship my husband off to the Bermuda Triangle via priority mail, I try to remind myself that there were strong reasons why I fell hard in love with the man I share my monthly AT&T bill with. Do we fight? Yes. But if I had to choose, I’d rather deal with him being an incompatible jerk (and he would probably say vice versa about me) than emotionally scar my kids for the rest of their lives because I decided all of a sudden that I need my space). Fights to me are always 50/50 when it comes to the blame. There are no victims, just perpetrators.
Thankfully, an even newer study offers better news. This one suggests that young couples ARE making things work and that one of the reasons why is that they are waiting longer in life before tying the knot. Marina Sborchi, author of Nasty Divorce: A Kid’s Eye View, says that the good thing about newlyweds these days have a clearer vision of what they want in a marriage while being much pickier in choosing their partners for life, too.
Here are five reasons why I couldn’t imagine getting a divorce. Again, circumstances (and people) can change, but in the meantime, I’m willing to fight the fight and then some more to make my marriage work:
Raising two children under one roof is hard. Doing it under separate roofs would probably break the bank. With our home, the kids’ school tuitions, our investments and so on (and even our Starbucks rewards card), I couldn’t imagine splitting everything up and living under one income instead of two because one of us needed “our space.” That space can come in the form of a couch downstairs and not a couch in a different rented home.
2. Dating in the age of social media
Without giving away my age, back when I was single, the big social media network was AOL Instant Messanger. (OK, maybe I just gave away my age). As a hypothetical single mom of two, dipping my feet back into the dating scene would be hard enough without knowing someone did a full virtual background check on me before we even had our first date. And I don’t really know if I have what it takes to sext. That’s all I’ll say about that.
These days, I can’t remember the last time I put on lipstick and now rather than date nights out we usually watch a movie on Netflix and open a bottle of wine marked on clearance from Target. There might also be a bout of flatulence passed from here to there, but that has become just as common as the mess left in the kitchen by the kids and the dog puking in the porch after digging into unidentifiable objects in the backyard yet again. It all sounds so sexy, doesn’t it? But when you’re with someone for so long, you easily grow a high tolerance to all sorts of questionable smells and bowel movements and if I have to deal with my husband’s now, that’s the only one I want to deal with for the rest of my life.
4. Kids and custody
Perhaps the number one reason why I wouldn’t want to get a divorce is that I wouldn’t want to scar my children by breaking up the one safety net they’ve always known. Maybe I have my mother’s old world mentality, but I would rather take in the suffering than see my children emotionally devastated, and especially at their tender ages. I don’t even have to cite the dozen or so surveys that say children that are a product of divorce are usually linked to higher drug use, lower grades, and suicide. That’s not to say that it happens in every case (although I can see lower grades being a common problem), but as divorce is an ongoing conflict — even if there is no real squabbling going on — it can still cause division within the child. Plus, you don’t want to see me in a LeAnn Rimes/Brandi Glanville-type of conflict. I couldn’t stomach seeing another woman raising my children and if I had the choice, I would rather deal with every fight – both small and big – than see any of my husband’s future love conquests influence one of my cubs.
I’ve even had this conversation with my husband in the past and he basically echoed my sentiments about seeing another man father our children as a stepparent. Our kids are ours, and only ours.
My husband has been a part of my life for almost 12 years. I couldn’t imagine erasing our last decade together. No one can convince me that you can go through a painless separation without being emotionally scarred somehow. Sure, I’ve seen civil divorces in the past, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t tornadoes of emotions billowed under the surface. If there was a strong love to begin with, there’s going to be an even stronger hurt to deal with before, during, and after the separation process. I’m all about the memorabilia, the sentiments, and the time we spent together in all the places we’ve ever been too. If we were to separate, I could never imagine passing by our favorite Thai restaurant, coffee shop or heck even a Disney Park without feeling like my heart is ripped out of my body. If we’ve made it through our 12 years together, then unless the ground beneath our feet is parting, we can make it another 12 years. And hopefully forever.
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