June 24, 2008

"And we're still together!"

This morning I woke up rather early (for me) and sat in my bed looking around bewildered, and my eyes stopped on two pictures of my grandparents in their youth that are stuck above my bulletin board. My grandparents stayed together til the end--that is, until my grandfather died of a heart attack, which I've heard family members say in anger that it was because my grandmother stressed him to death. I thought back to my childhood when I'd go visit my grandparents and how every night, without fail, a huge argument would break out between them and I'd end up shuttled off to my cousin's house to stay with them. That is how I remember my grandparents. Then I started thinking about my own parents, and the scenario hasn't been much better.

Not saying that I blame my parents and grandparents for my divorce, but experiencing all that growing up did not help the cause any and, well, just didn't give me much incentive to stay married. Troubled couples tend to stay together "for the kids", but as a child of two generations of "intact" famlies, I say you can keep that shit. I've been walking on eggshells my whole life, waiting for the next melee to pop off. I wouldn't know what a normal, happy marriage looked like even if it walked up and bit me on the nose. And let me clarify that there was no violence or abuse involved, just lots of tension in the air and arguing and conflict. And it wasn't all bad all the time, but the negative definitely had an impact on me to the point where I wake up 20 years later and think about it and feel it in my soul (I'm tense right now just thinking about it). Honestly, there are times when I wish my parents would have gone their separate ways to go seek their happiness somewhere else, because it seemed like they weren't finding it there. Not that I am not grateful that they stuck it out, but I will definitely say it made an impact on me.

So...... on to the main event. I wrote this blog back in 2006 (pre-separation obviously) and wanted to repost it just to demonstrate that divorce is one of those things that's a long time coming, and you can't point to one thing that "caused" the divorce (though stay tuned because I might one day discuss The Beginning of The End..... I just don't think I'm ready for that yet) and it's not something that you just wake up and decide to do. You can hear the distant rumblings before the storm hits, and here's one of those rumbles:


After countless surveys asking the question, I think I've finally come up with what my greatest fear is: growing into an old woman who can't stand her spouse. If you're friends with me, I'm sure you're old enough to remember the skit from In Living Color with Mr. and Mrs. Brooks, the old married couple that had been together for 50 years, but continuously and unsuccessfully tried to kill each other..... "And we're still together!"

In Living Color - Mr. and Mrs. Brooks (sorry about the commercial... just be patient, it's worth it)

I think this happens more than we'd like to acknowledge. I think both sets of my grandparents despised each other as much as they loved each other..... I rarely heard my grandmas talk fondly of my grandfathers until they were both dead. And I've heard of or seen other couples who, while they're still together, they don't treat each other very well. You love the person, but, well..... you just don't like 'em very much. And, if you're constantly on the brink of killing each other, is being able to say that you've been together for 50 years really worth it??

I see it with my own parents all the time..... today was a perfect example. My dad got taken to the hospital at 1am last night because he couldn't breathe.... turns out his blood pressure was way high because he hadn't been taking his medicine (bad daddy!!). My mother doesn't call to tell me about it until THIRTEEN HOURS later and tells me "Your dad's in the hospital again. I'm going home because I haven't had any sleep" and she just sounded irritated more than worried. I asked my dad if she was coming back up there, and he just shrugged. I know what it was..... she was mad because he inconvenienced her. I believe my mother loves my dad in some way, but there's just no compassion, no consideration, none of what makes a relationship enjoyable and not just something that you tolerate or that makes life a little easier (for financial reasons, child rearing, someone to talk to, whatever). One of my very good friends told me that he viewed marriage as a business.... I told him that was a fucked up attitude and that he'd be divorced within a year.... turns out my prediction was true, but I'm starting to wonder....... maybe you have to view it that way in order to make it work.

Let's be real here...... 30, 40, 50 years is a looooong ass time. And like Andre 3000 told Erykah's momma: "Forever never seemed that long until you're grown" and as Machiavelli observed, Love between humans is unreliable and fickle, and Love is perishable. Anyone who's been in a long term relationship know that "love" and "work" go hand in hand. So it's easy to see that the odds are stacked against enduring love. Sad, but real. That is not to say that we are all doomed to end up in loveless, old beat down marriages..... but it just shouldn't be surprising that people do.

I'm only 28, so I don't know shyt about shit about relationships. But if I had to put some money on one side or the other, I'd say it is worth it from the perspective of keeping family units whole, which typically creates more stability in a person's life. Maybe the key is just being real and having real expectations from the person you're with. If you're constantly measuring your mate against the person that they should be, they're going to be a constant disappointment, and it's no wonder that you can't stand them after 30 years.

I don't know what it takes to have a long, happy relationship.... maybe it just takes the stars being aligned just right (seems like Saturday I was having a very drunken conversation where someone talked about the "stars being aligned" and I started pontificating on how the universe is expanding and stars move, and the Big Bang theory and all that..... if that convo was with you, it really DID make sense at the time..... but I think whoever it was said they couldn't stand my ass..... LOL!) or maybe it's just luck. But I just know I don't want to be stuck in that relationship purgatory, teetering on that thin line between love and hate.

(originally posted September 18, 2006)


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