One of my favorite movies is Bye Bye Love, a Rob Reiner film featuring Paul Reiser and Randy Quaid that tells the story of three fathers dealing with the aftermath of divorce. It is at times hilarious and also heartbreaking, especially as it concerns the children of various ages.
My earliest memory of divorce involved some friends of my parents. I don’t remember many of their friends, and I didn’t know these well. But this man was notable because he had only one leg and still managed to drive a big Suburban out to Senator’s Wash, a manmade lake my parents often took us to cool off in the desert heat. I remember his wife even less, because one day she left and I never saw her again.
How Long Is Too Long?
I’m not sure how I found out they divorced. We must have asked about it, since I remember my parents offering a feeble explanation for their separation: they’ve been married too long.
What?! How long is too long to be married?
I would find out just a couple years later when my own parents would divorce. I didn’t know at the time that my own father was actually someone else’s, that my mother and my biological father had divorced when I was maybe two. My stepfather had also been married before and had children I didn’t know. This was just the beginning for me.
Later I would learn that an aunt and uncle would divorce, and still another aunt and uncle, that my maternal grandparents were both on their second marriage, that my mother’s father (whom I didn’t see until a few years ago) was on his third wife (his second having died) and even his parents had divorced. I’m not sure how far it goes back in my own family.
The Sanctity of Marriage
I’m sure many in my generation (I’m 34, by the way) have similar accounts, since ours is a generation stung by divorce to the degree that many of us are numb and have chosen not to marry. If you want to talk about protecting the sanctity of marriage, then before we discuss gay marriage, let’s talk about the fragile union between a man and woman that apparently must end after some arbitrary number of years, or when we just get tired of one another.
Certainly, I’m troubled to raise our children in a culture that celebrates homosexual unions, but even more, I’m concerned about the sanctity of my own marriage. Nothing will influence their view of marriage greater than their own parents’ relationship. For us, there will be no too long. I want when one of us dies in fifty years for the other to look back with joy and fondness but also a bit of pain at not having more time.
Today’s post was a bit of a downer, I realize. On Wednesday, I’m going to follow up with some accounts of when irreconcilable differences become reconciled, when as someone close to me used to say, “Our divorce just didn’t work out.”