RE: There They Go, Bad-Mouthing Divorce Again

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From: Lisa Dusseault (
Date: Tue Sep 12 2000 - 09:40:43 PDT

Much as I'd like to agree with the pro-marriage sentiments, I'm dubious
about the "I know n couples who are truly happily married" statement. I
used to think I could at least count on my parents and grand-parents, well
that's three couples there, right? Um, actually, no. Both my grandmothers
wrote "auto-biographies" in the last few years, and although each of them
married one man and stayed with him, neither of them was happy about it. In
fact, the complaints are bitter. Boy am I glad that society restricts me
less, in that I can get divorced or separated without suffering social
discrimination for decades, which is what one of my grandmothers actually
considered as an action/consequence. And my parents? Well, my mom is
pretty closed-mouthed, but I get the impression she would like my dad to
travel less, and wishes she had more to fill her time. Can I claim that
another couple is happily married when they might have plenty of reasons for
concealing their problems from me?

[I've started to wonder whether, given that men seemed to have the
advantages in a marriage in the past, most women were unhappy but socially
trapped. That could explain why today's more independent and socially less
restricted women leave their mates more often. There's too many factors to
know though.]

Have you ever had the experience of knowing a couple you beleived to be
"truly happily married" -- until it falls apart in an awful, messy divorce?
I have. Many people hide their troubles from everybody, or at least only
confide in a friend or relative or two, which probably isn't you.

Sadly, you can't even trust declarations from people who say "we are [I am]
truly, happily, married". I've said that. I was wrong.

Does "truly happily married" encompass people who are sticking it out and
working hard to make it work -- perhaps because they have kids, or a house,
or just that public social commitment -- but might separate some day if the
situation gets worse or the ties somehow loosen?

Does "truly happily married" encompass couples who seem happy, but in fact
have some internal stand-off arranged (e.g. an affair now and then is
tolerated, or serious compromises made in terms of how much time they can
stand to be together)?

Does it count if there have been serious troubles in the past? E.g. I know
an older couple that barely made it through the years when their children
were young and the wife was frequently sick yet they needed the money she
got from working. I know they're doing better now, but wounds likely still
exist from that time. In my experience, making it through a difficult
period might not make a couple stronger -- it can also introduce or expose
cracks which only burst open later.

Not to say "truly happily married" doesn't exist, but it certainly is rarer
than I wish it were. I'm in favour of divorce, which isn't to say I think
everybody should get divorced: I just think it's a reasonable and
un-disgraceful solution to a common problem.


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