The Kids Are Gone, Want a Divorce?
There must be fairy tale type marriages. You know the kind. They are the stuff of romance novels… and well, uh, fairy tales. All that consistent romance rhetoric has to get its origins from somewhere.
I personally don’t know of any of those always-happy-ever-after marriages. All of the ones that I have any knowledge about have had their ups and downs with some downs to the point of divorce. Its what is bound to happen when you anyone tries to live up to a fairy tale.
For me, and that is really all I can tell you about in any detail because it’s the only thing that I know about, my marriage has been like my salvation, a process.
Frankly, I would have liked for both to have occurred in epiphany. Like Apostle Paul. Yeah, like that. Just to refresh you and make sure that we both know what we consider epiphany. Imagine. In what must have been quite a moment there in the middle of the dusty road towards Damascus, when all of the middle Eastern world was taking sides on religion, profoundly persecuting a group he despised, Paul was struck blind by the very voice of God in the middle of the day about said persecution. The scales of blindness physically drop from his eyes, where upon there and for ever more he recognized the way of Christ and His importance.
No questions, no indecision, no doubt.
Not God’s general plan for me.
God brought me to the altar of submission, kicking and screaming, backsliding my way down the road fifty years later and I guess He intended for my marriage to follow that same path.
To be fair. There is a part of marriage that does parallel a fervent religious conversion, in its early stages, because, let’s face it, passion is passion. The freedom of sexual discovery, repeated and often, with Prince Charming is literally, a blinding experience. . Yeah. Sometime around the first years of child rearing, things begin to come into a different focus, scales falling left and right, child rearing taking center seat in the consciousness of this Snow White. (Which can be amazingly confounding to Prince Charming, blindsided as he is by this up until his own scale dropping experience, which aids him in recognizing that the previous condition of sexual interest has been co-opted by the rigors and demands of child rearing.) And child rearing, despite the fact that not all marriages are forever more and hold your peace, child rearing, at least, child loving is exactly that, forever.
It turns out that if you are in it for the long haul be it marriages or salvation, epiphany or not, we are talking about commitment. Commitment would definitely be the operative word here.
I wish that word somehow described just how tough the journey would, could be.
So imagine my surprise, when upon weathering twenty some odd years of marriage, with children successfully ensconced in university or already out, our dream of giving them this gift fueled by mortgaging and remortgaging everything we owned, I realized they, our sons, were considering that we would divorce.
Apparently, conversations has flown between them, centered around the oldests proximity to our empty nester condition, reporting his observations on whether or not we were filing for divorce.
I was astounded when they finally confessed these conversations around one of their birthday dinners, one of the few occasions we had at that time for group assembly.
“Why would you think we were getting divorced,” I asked incredulously. “I can’t imagine there were any signs that we were,” I said outloud and then considering, to myself, how many times in the past that might not have been the case if they had had they wherewithal to notice.
Silent Bob observed and took it all in, silently.
“We had all left. We didn’t think that you would have anything to do once we weren’t around,” one of them explained.
“It happens a lot, Mom. A lot of our friends parents’ divorce when the kids leave. We were just looking for signs,” another one said, softening the collective self centeredness of the previous statement.
No one would question their observations or their analysis. I for one was consumed by them, my children, my sons, my role as their mother. I thought it sad, bold, brave, and protective of them for us and each other to prepare themselves in the eventuality.
“When we all left, we would call Jake to find out how you were doing.”
We were laughing around the table.
“What did he say,” I asked, as I looked at my husband and in a moment the scales of a lifetime dropped and there he was my own imperfect PC in the form of Silent Bob. I thought about our sons and our years together.
“I told them that you go places. Lots of places. I guess they have a life outside of us,” Jake said.
It was a good moment, for the very reason it ery well could have not been.
“We aren’t getting a divorce that I know of,” Silent Bob said in what we have all come to know is his way of offering a reassuring statement.
I’m thinking about that day as I give you your third piece of old woman marriage advice. I doubt I took the time to tell them then about commitment, to launch into one of my family famous moments to belabor the point of the foibles and joys of marriage and by the way, Heavenly salvation, too. Or maybe I did.
I can tell you today though, commitment, all that the word can mean, is worth it, no matter what we might be assigning it to.
Life will never be perfect, but your commitment to the things that are important to you, unwavering in practice despite what might assail you inside your heart and mind, will be the closest thing to perfection you will find this side of Heaven.