Monday, January 3, 2011

The Great Epidemic

Greetings Friends,

I've been waiting in the weeds to broach the subject of the disturbingly epidemic numbers of divorces in the news lately. Every day, you read about yet another celebrity couple calling it quits, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down. What is it about marriage that makes it impossible for people to stay together anymore? It's an almost asinine question to be asking, given that 1 in 2 marriages is doomed to fail. I tried to tackle that question by relating it to the celebrity factor in a piece I wrote for The Perpetual Post, but I don't think I really did the topic justice. Yes, many of us go out of our way to emulate our favourite celebrities, but do we really want to emulate them so much, that we will divorce our spouses because that is what they do? Ultimately, I don't believe there is a concrete answer to that question, but divorce has become so ubiquitous amongst the common folk that I do scratch my head in wonder on occasion. 

For the past few months I've been hanging out with a divorced cousin of mine, the majority of whose friends number among the walking wounded. They all got married in their late 20s or early 30s, had kids, and are now residing in "Splitsville". Of course the "coulda, woulda, shoulda" laments are plentiful, and as a woman, I can't help but wonder what the opposite spouse has to say about their role in the demise of the union. Neither party is ever totally blameless, and the writer in me is always hankering to hear both sides. Since I do not have access to the "exes", I am prone to make certain assumptions, which I know I shouldn't do. Men scorned are no different from women scorned, and when you don't hear both sides of the story, you begin to sympathize with the one side you are privy to. 

The one component of this scenario that surprises me is the ease with which the female halves of these broken relationships have moved on to new relationships that are supposedly on the fast-track to marriage. The men, however, are out there on the myriad online dating sites, having coffee, drinks and the occasional hook-up, but nothing more serious than that. Is it because despite the failure of one union, women still ultimately yearn for that "happily ever after" togetherness? Or, are they just incapable of surviving on their own? Since I cannot speak to any of this from personal experience, it has become the great mystery of my current station in life. These particular men all seem to have positive qualities to offer a potential partner, but their intial forays into matrimony all ended in disaster. Does this prove the hypothesis that humans aren't meant to be monogamous? Is romance the great societal myth? 

I'm not attempting to start the New Year off on a cynical note; this is just my usual writerly inquisitiveness getting the better of me. I have no wish to dissect relationships a la Dr. Phil or Oprah; I am genuinely curious as to why relationships are so combustible. In my former life, many of the married couples I knew are still together. In my present circumstances, most of them have been torn asunder. As we forge further ahead into the 21st century, I find myself contemplating what the future holds for matrimony, along with many other things. This seemed as good a place to start as any. Stay tuned...

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