I Call Bullshit

I tepidly tip-toed into the Al and Tipper split angst at my mommy gig.  Basically falling back on the whole “marriage is work” and that successful marriages – and I am taking the gold standard of “til death do we part”* – are made up of two committed people.  Commitment being key and something that a couple must do over and over again as their relationship rolls on and time/circumstances change them and it.

But I ran across a piece by Leslie Bennets at The Daily Beast that I really wanted to comment on, but didn’t.  Bennets is the author of The Feminine Mistake, which takes to task women who drop out of the workplace to raise children. In Bennets’ opinion, this is idiotic at best and suicidal at worst but as she is working for a world-view model that places material wealth as the most important thing – her arguments make sense.

The Beast post talked about the myriad of ways that marriages die.

There are so many ways a marriage can die.

Some are blown up in a fateful instant; a couple might have been married for years, might appear the ideal couple to everyone who knows them, even believe it themselves—and one day a stranger walks into a room and one partner is struck by acoup de foudre as decisive as a mortal blow. When this happens—and it sometimes does—even the most devoted spouse hasn’t got a chance. Other marriages take years to wither, with love seeping away, bit by bit, as if leaking from a small, fatal hole that can drain an enormous reservoir.

I won’t argue the “withering, fatal hole” position. I have my own theories but won’t share them here as I have done so already in past posts. But I call bullshit on the statement in bold.

The idea that a happily married person or sometimes two lock eyes across a crowded patio at a neighborhood barbeque and are struck by kismet is utter crap. The rationalizing that has to gone on to justify anything so Hollywood High School makes me wonder whether to laugh in someone’s face or just give a patronizing eye-roll.

No one is fated to be with just one other person. Sorry. And any person who has used this sorry-ass excuse on a partner to justify abandoning that person is engaging in classic denial of personal responsibility and was probably the lazy end of the duo in terms of anything requiring heavy-lifting skills to begin with.

Leaving your spouse for someone else is an avoidance tactic of the highest magnitude. It’s one thing to decide – as perhaps the Gores did – that effort, reaffirmation of love and commitment to a partnership aren’t worth the work anymore – but it’s quite another to cop out with “kismet” and “soul-mates” and “this can’t be denied” excusing of one’s very bad, infantile and supremo-selfish behavior.

You’re being harsh, Anniegirl. How would you know even?

Yeah, I heard that. You out there who’s probably pulled this cheesy escape hatch once or twice.

Rob and I couldn’t be more well-matched. In a lot of ways, he suits me better than Will could ever have done. I feel that I have known him always – that we’ve spent the better part of our early existences involved with each other – probably intimately. You can’t get more “kismet” than us.

But, if he and I had met by chance – at one of these across the room affairs – back in the mid-90’s when he, Shelley and the girls were living in Kansas, would it have led to a soul-implosion?

No.

Why?

Because he was a devoted married man who loved his wife and his daughters and knew that marriage wasn’t a trivial thing to be tossed aside to chase sexually fueled mirages. In fact, dollars to donuts that he wouldn’t have noticed me beyond a shared interest in Star Trek and a half-hour’s worth of nerdy conversation.

And me? I didn’t note married men beyond “too bad he’s married”.

There are rules to engagement, and people who disregard boundaries like “marriage” are the least likely to stick with you later on when the going gets tough – and it does for everyone at some time or another.

Those couples exist though, Anniegirl. You’ve heard the stories of the cousin’s sister’s co-workers mom and stepdad, or the neighbor’s best friend’s uncle who left their spouse for a random stranger and spent 30 wonderful years together, right?

Anecdotal urban myths.

People like that exist in so few a number that they might as well be the Lost Ark or the Holy Grail. They are like believing in Disney Princess stories. Most people who leave a partner for someone else – eventually leave that person too. That’s the rule. Haven’t we talked about “exceptions” versus “rule” before, people?

It’s irritating that people like, Bennets – who are quick to chastise people about their relationship choices in general – so willingly feed the mythology of failed marriages by promoting ridiculous ideas like “destiny” and “eyes locking across a crowded PTA meeting”. Marriage is a one of many relationship vehicles that we are presented with in life to work on ourselves in some way or to assist others in their life journey – mostly the latter, but that’s my opinion only.

*Knowing fully well that an awful lot of widowed folk call bs on that as it’s not a standard part of the vows, which can vary a lot depending on religion and civil standards. Although, my personal opinion is that anyone going into marriage thinking they can call the ball on length are living in the Magic Kingdom too.

7 responses to “I Call Bullshit

  1. I came to your blog via the fact you were on the wordpress home page this afternoon- this piece caught my eye. I have to say, you rock. you’re straight forward and said it much better than I ever could.

  2. Man, I agree with you so much. People act on a visceral level and like to ascribe their behavior to some higher calling/intellect. Bully shit, I say.

    I love that the Clinton’s train wreck of a marriage is still solid. Is that wrong?

      • Monogamy flies in the face of everything we are taught about relationships. We are pummeled with messages about how hard fidelity is and for that men, in particular, this isn’t natural. But we don’t know what is “natural” in terms of our ancient ancestors. We are just guessing. And we can’t exactly look to the animal kingdom for concrete examples b/c it’s apples to oranges to pineapples.

        Look at toddlers. Do they share? Are they inclined to be generous with their mommies especially where others are concerned? NO. Toddlers are possessive. And that is us at our core. We don’t share and we find it easy to be selfish in terms of those we believe belong to us. We are taught as we grow to share others and chastised when we balk. As we hit the hormone years, we are told over and over not to expect to have true, faithful love and that it doesn’t exist and that we are setting ourselves up for heartache if we can’t be more flexible. These are modern times after all. We are sexually liberated and whatnot.

        Furthermore, if you look back realistically, men outlived women (who mostly died due to being PG all the time) and so having a string of wives became normal. That’s more likely where the whole “men quite be monogamous came from. They were being widowed every four or five years or so and needing to remarry to find a caregiver for their kids.

  3. well written
    engaging
    and strung with many insights
    thank you 🙂

    i do think the christian marriage vow has had its day
    given we live in such mobile times…
    i’ve played around with alternatives that provide the necessary conditions for bringing up kids
    and yet is flexible enough to deal with the multiple lives we leads
    but it is for women to come up with this…

    be well!

  4. Well, when I was a teenager, my mother left my dad for the guy who drove the bus she took to work every day. Almost twenty-five years later, they’re still together and seem quite happy. But, she didn’t leave a good marriage on a whim; she and my dad were having serious problems and she was already thinking about finding another partner. So while their eyes may have locked across a crowded room (or over the fare box on the bus, as the case may be), it was less of a yielding to destiny and more an active and rather practical choice on her part. As for the rest of it, I agree that anyone who plays the “it was fate, I couldn’t help it” card is copping out in a big way.

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