Wednesday, July 22, 2009

An Uncommon Occurence...I hope

I had a doctor's appointment off Island and had to wait a bit to get in and see the doctor. That was okay since the doctor's wife runs the office, and we've been friends with this couple for decades. She and I were talking, catching up on what was going on with our respective families. It was also a chance to catch up on what was going on with some mutual friends that we have whom she sees more often than we do. When I asked about a particular couple I got a real shock. I was told that they got divorced last month.

Now we are talking here about a couple married almost 44 years. They are already great grand parents. As I received the news I quickly ran through my mind my knowledge of this couple. There was nothing that stood out and yelled "divorce coming." In point of fact, they seemed just like the rest of us. And then I asked what could have happened that would break asunder a relationship that had run this long.

Well, welcome to the modern age, the one where the younger generations have a different viewpoint about what older people should and should not be doing. In a nutshell, this couple had a whole bunch of kids, grand kids and even great grand kids who were counting on this couple to keep on plugging away, keep on working, keep on providing services. The wife, who happens to be the one who made the higher salary all along, wanted to get herself unentangled from responsibilities she was not in favor of any longer. She wanted to cut down and then cut out her working. She wanted to use her older years "indulging" herself a little bit. She wanted her life back. Not only were her children panicking at the thought, but her husband was not in favor either. He didn't mind actively parenting 4 generations up until the grave; she did. Obviously they couldn't work out their differences and divorce was the result.

I sat there with my mouth hanging open. Yeah, I could see where a real life style change on the part of one partner could cause problems with the other partner, bad problems. But how did it come to this? My friend's take was that the social pressure to conform to what "everyone" else was doing finally got to be too much. Sadder still, only one of her four kids is talking to her right now. Accident that this child is the only one totally independent, who has never asked for nor needed financial help from her parents?

I'd like to believe that this divorce is a one-off occurrence, an anomaly for older couples. I'd like to believe that there were underlying causes that we none of us knew about already many decades back. I'd like to, but I can't. One occurrence does not a trend make, and I'm not saying that this is the wave of the future, but even one ripple should be looked at as instructive. It's not the first time that I've said that the relationship between the various generations now living needs serious tweaking. I hope that tweaking comes before there are more casualties in my generation.


Trudy said...

It's a scary thing when couples married so long get a divorce. You kind of figure that if you make it together that long then you're safe. But no one really knows what goes on behind closed doors, or what dynamics are present in a marriage.

I'd speculate that if her deciding to stop working could cause such upheaval that there were probably problems present earlier. But yes, a real life style change for one partner could be a problem.

Thankfully divorces at an older stage are pretty rare, and I hope it stays that way.

G6 said...

A very interesting and thought provoking post.
I'm still "ruminating" on this one...
Certainly there has been a redefinition of what it means to be in one's "Golden Years".

Anonymous said...

So nice that her children don't speak to her after supporting their lifestyle for years. Maybe she is better off divorced.

Anonymously said...

It used to be said that money was the number one problem that couples would argue about. Next came family. After that was the amount of time that a spouse (usually then the husband) spent out of the house at work. Put all three of those together and you have a recipe for marital problems that might lead to divorce.

What's sad here is that the 'frum lifestyle' was a factor.

SubWife said...

I very sincerely doubt that this is the whole story. And even if it is, there definitely was something amiss before. And the fact that most children don't speak to the mother (a statement I wouldn't take at face value) might indicate that she wasn't without blame either.

Regardless, nobody knows what went on behind the closed doors, and just because someone said that something was the reason for divorce doesn't necessarily mean that they know the truth or the whole truth.