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Get the e-book at: https://www.facebook.com/TheNarcissistSeries/app_203351739677351
I noticed today that I feel so much different now about marriage since I swore off of it a couple of years ago.
Out of some odd curiosity I looked at all the WordPress blogs under the category https://wordpress.com/tag/marriage/ and noticed that a lot of them had some sort of religious reference, for one thing. Otherwise they fell into categories of celebrating how long they had endured in that condition, or went on to list ways to mend the marriage or make it better.
I have an odd sense of humor perhaps, but it made me think of someone talking about their Cadillac and how it was the best car in the world and how it had changed their lives, but you really needed to psyche yourself up to drive it and be careful you don’t do certain things or it will break down and the repairs would be expensive.
In short, it reinforced the idea that marriage isn’t for everyone, and those that it is for now seem a bit off to me.
But I say that in a nice way, and don’t intend any disparagement to anyone that is married or wants to be married. A couple of my kids are married, most of my adult relatives are married, and I wish them all the best. And I was married – 3 times for 38 years married. So perhaps I should consider that I’m just as much “a bit off” as they are in that respect.
I haven’t been able to define it to myself precisely, but living in a committed relationship without marriage, as I am now, is distinguishably different. And I wish there were as many blogs about being unmarried together as there are for the married. Maybe it’s just that there are fewer issues for the unmarried? Maybe it’s more like owning a Toyota Prius that never has problems and gets great gas mileage, which helps you overlook the fact that the navigation system sends you to a completely wrong place once in awhile?
So I guess my point is, if you’re living unmarried to someone, write a blog. It might give married people something else to blog about.
In a few days I’ll probably appreciate it a bit more, but for now I’m simply quietly celebrating inside. Today my bank is remitting the last payment under the divorce settlement to my ex. No further obligation exists under the agreement. After 30 years of work, I can now hurry up and pay off the mortgage so I can afford to retire and manage living expenses with a Social Security income.
I don’t seriously regret much of the past 3 decades and the 3 marriages over that time span, although I have to say it’s been expensive. I have 4 great kids and 2 grandkids, and I helped raise 4 stepkids and a bunch of foster kids. The rhythm of life seemed to dance between wonderful, horrible, and then resting in OK for awhile before it started all over again. I’m guessing it just might continue that way, but maybe not.
Maybe I can start to let my foot off the gas now and not be so anxious about the future. I have a lazy dog for a companion, and a wonderful girlfriend to spend pleasant moments together with. I’m teaching myself how to cook, and joined a fitness center. I can keep warm in the sauna in the winter, garden and cut grass in the summer.
With any luck, the next 30 years can be even better than the last 30. Less expensive at least.
Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose,
Nothin’ don’t mean nothin’, honey, if it ain’t free.
Yeah, feeling good was easy, Lord, when he sang the blues,
You know feeling good was good enough for me,
Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee.
The last stipulated payment for my “crimes” against my ex is in 20 days, when I will have satisfied the terms of my divorce parole.
I’ve been married and divorced three times, which makes me one of those people the Wall Street Journal describes, delicately, as having “a complex marital biography.” For most of my life, this has been a source of shame. But lately I’ve begun wondering if I’m really the one with the problem.
I’m certainly not alone. Among people ages 50 and older, the divorce rate has doubled over the past 20 years, according to sociologists Susan Brown and I-Fen Lin of Bowling Green State University. Further, having been married previously doubles the risk of divorce for those ages 50 to 64, while for those ages 65 and up, the risk factor quadruples.
The most obvious reason is that people are living longer. My three marriages took place over a 30-year period and produced three children — not exactly a night in Vegas. My mother, also on marriage number three, followed an early divorce with a successful 30-year marriage to husband number two. Several years after his death, she tied the knot with a fellow retiree — again, not what I would call party-girl behavior.
So here’s a revolutionary thought: What if marrying more than once was actually okay? What if we (and by “we” I mean people of any gender, or as I like to call them, “people”) could enter into legally sanctioned relationships with individuals we loved — and then, if the unions no longer served us or our families, end them?
I have this fantasy of sitting on the couch with my kids, leafing through the family album. “Here’s Bob,” I might say fondly, patting a photograph of a hippie-haired young man in ripped jeans. “We spent 12 great years together, writing music and traveling all over the world.”
On another page, a smiling man on roller blades, flowers peeking from his leather backpack. “This is your father the year I met him,” I would tell my daughter. “He taught me to skate, and brought roses every week for no reason.” And here, my sons’ father, sturdy and tall just like they are. “Remember our summers in Montauk?” I would ask. “We’d sing for hours on the drive out.”
Do I regret any of these relationships? Not for a second. If I met these men now, I would probably make different choices (as would they). But I can’t imagine my life without the experiences we shared or the children we created.
After all, what makes a life well lived? Taking chances. Making mistakes. Loving others. And maybe even marrying the wrong person.
So let’s try looking at marriage as an exit off life’s highway, rather than an irrevocable dead end. Maybe it will lead to a road we want to follow forever; that would be a great blessing. But if not, we should be free to head in a new direction without feeling like we failed.
Search for “divorce” on Twitter, and you find countless posts like the following:
I don’t believe in divorce….when me and my partner have problems we will sit down, talk and work it out! Commitment for life
As though one can make divorce not real simply by pretending it doesn’t exist. I hate to break it to them, but divorce is kinda like gravity’s impact on an aging body; it exists whether you want to admit it or not.
I didn’t believe in divorce either. I believed in commitment. In working things out. In staying together. However, my husband did not feel the same way.
The problem with the Twitter quote above is that it completely neglects to acknowledge your partner’s view and actions, neither of which are under your jurisdiction. You may not believe in divorce but if your partner stops believing in the marriage, you’ll be forced to change your mind real fast.
I try to remember that these statements are coming from ignorance and a lack of exposure. These are people who have not been touched by divorce. These are people that believe that promises made can never be broken. These are people who think that their wishes are strong enough to ward off any unwanted situations.
I both envy and pity them.
I was them.
I had that certainty, that confidence in my marriage. I believed that divorce couldn’t happen to me because I didn’t want it to. I didn’t realize that my husband had developed a different view. My certainty that it couldn’t happen to me meant that I was blindsided. I was betrayed, not only by my husband, but also by my beliefs.
I feel the judgment from these unbelievers, the thought of “You’re defective” barely hiding beneath the words, “Oh, you’re divorced.” They see me – and others like me — as too quick to give up. Impulsive. More concerned about pleasure in the moment than love in the long term.
But what they don’t see is the endless years of a dead marriage, spouses orbiting without connection. They do not witness the harsh words or blows delivered in anger, causing the other to wither in fear. The affairs often remain undetected to those looking in to the marriage; the piercing betrayals kept secret. They may never see the desperate attempts to make it work, on one side or both, until the decision is made to wipe the slate clean. They do not know that it is possible to be lonelier in a marriage than when alone.
They do not know that we, the divorced ones, were once like them. That we also didn’t believe in throwing in the towel. That we believed our marriages would endure, that the promises made would be honored through sickness and health.
Perhaps most importantly, the unbelievers also see divorce as something that is always within their control. They do not yet understand the particular mathematics of marriage: one added to one equals two yet when one leaves, you’re left with zero. Some divorces are completely initiated by one person, such as when my husband made the decision to abandon the marriage with a text message. Others are more subtle, the disengaged partner forcing the issue through withdrawal or attack.
There are times when divorce is the only remaining option, even when it is last thing you want. And that is a painful truth to face.
I worry about those who believe that it can never happen to them. I hope they are right and they never face the pain of lives torn apart. However, I am concerned that many of them will realize that belief is not enough to hold a marriage together.
The most difficult aspect of any relationship is the acceptance that your partner is an individual with his or her own thoughts and actions. You cannot control them. You cannot change them. You cannot lash them to a chair and force them to talk it out. All you can do is love them and embrace them while being the best you can be.
Maybe instead of saying, “I don’t believe in divorce,” it should be, “I believe in doing everything possible on my side to ensure that we do not divorce and I hope that you can do the same.”
Now that’s something I can believe in.
First, figure out when you and your spouse will be laid off or be too sick to work.
Second, figure out when you will die.
Third, understand that you need to save 7 percent of every dollar you earn. (Didn’t start doing that when you were 25 and you are 55 now? Just save 30 percent of every dollar.)
Fourth, earn at least 3 percent above inflation on your investments, every year. (Easy. Just find the best funds for the lowest price and have them optimally allocated.)
Fifth, do not withdraw any funds when you lose your job, have a health problem, get divorced, buy a house or send a kid to college.
Sixth, time your retirement account withdrawals so the last cent is spent the day you die.
As we all know, these abilities are not common for our species. The current model for retirement savings, which forces individuals to figure out a plan for their retirement years, whether through a “guy” or by individual decision making, will always fall short. My friends are afraid, and they are not alone. In March, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, only 52 percent of Americans expressed confidence that they will be comfortable in retirement. Twenty years ago, that number was close to 75 percent.
I hope that fear can make us all get real. The coming retirement income security crisis is a shared problem; it is not caused by a set of isolated individual behaviors. My plan calls for a way out that would create guaranteed retirement accounts on top of Social Security. These accounts would be required, professionally managed, come with a guaranteed rate of return and pay out annuities. This is a sensible way to get people to prepare for the future. You don’t like mandates? Get real. Just as a voluntary Social Security system would have been a disaster, a voluntary retirement account plan is a disaster.
……………………..MORE via Our Ridiculous Approach to Retirement – NYTimes.com.