Google, Oprah and a Marriage from Hell...

Monday, January 28, 2008

so i was watching oprah the other day, listening to thirty-something year olds crying over how they couldn't live their lives the way they wanted to because they're parents had gotten divorced after they got out of high school and they're lives just fell apart. their comments about waiting for a parent to show, always feeling like you're in the middle of your parents... essentially living a double life. i say to these 30 year olds... imagine what it's like to have the same things happen to you when you are just three years old... not understanding, not comprehending any answers that you could possibly be given... not that it would keep these things from happening to kids in the future, but maybe, just maybe, if lovers got married for love as oppose to that being the "next step" in their relationship, it would happen a bit less. after all, if goldie and kurt have lasted without the rings... why can't we? because...

we are a speed-obsessed culture. when the newer, faster, smaller model comes along, we toss the old one without hesitation. we cream our jeans when we read about a quarter-inch-thin laptop with dual processors and 10 hours of battery power. we go to the store and there's a waiting list. and in that instant the decision is made: we will get that laptop. and we do. we show it off to our friends. and for the first week we even wash our hands before we use it, to keep the keyboard clean. but in a month we'll be used to it. in six months, it will seem slow. we won't care when we drip our venti, triple, light soy, sugar-free caramel, caramel macchiato with half a packet of splenda on the keyboard, causing a short. in a year, we won't carry it on the plane anymore because it will be embarrassingly obsolete.

so imagine trying to have a relationship in this environment. and by that i am referring to the arcane concept of the long-term relationship. a marriage, even. imagine living in this culture and not walking out the door at the first sign of trouble. the second you hear "we need to talk" or "i've been thinking," you hit the DELETE key. do you know the chances of celebrating your 50th anniversary? something like 5.6%. don't believe me? google it.

successful, long-term relationships take two things that we, as a culture, have mysteriously become programmed to avoid: hard work and persistence.

we want our relationships to be great, and great all the time. on their own. work-free partnered bliss. as soon as issues occur, we think, "this one's not right for me." or, "we're growing apart." of course, the world is filled with psychos, and sometimes they are attractive and we end up married to or dating one. which is a pity. and in this case, leaving is a very good thing. but most often we're just coupled with another normal person and experiencing normal problems, and leaving is the easiest idea, not necessarily the best one. i think part of the problem is that we marry too quickly. we fall in love, and then trust our hormones and brain chemistry and we get engaged. before we really know what we're getting into.

our national divorce rate hovers over 52% (google again...). even i, with less than stellar mathematical skills, realize that percentage is most certainly an F in american relationships. and it's because we're viewing the first marriage not as the final exam but as the homework. the trainer marriage, the warm-up. the one where we can make all our mistakes. so that we can nail it the second, or third, time around. but guess what? the statistics (google, yet again...) don't show that. in fact, the statistics show the jaw-dropping, sphincter-clenching opposite. they reveal failed first marriages, followed by failed second (61%) and failed third (73%). god, i love google.

so though i'd like my water to boil faster, and though the computer i bought nine months ago is painfully slow, and both of those items will soon be delivered to a landfill where they can infect the environment, in my yet to be found relationship, i'm willing to sacrifice speed for quality.

thanks a.b.

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