I couldn’t wait to get together with Mia; she’d met a guy who sounded pretty darn as close to perfect as you can get and I wanted to know more. So we met at the arts fest, not even feeling the raindrops because our conversation was so animated.
“OK, what are the stats?”
“He’s 52, tall, fit, nice salt-and-pepper hair …”
“Loves to hike, super-smart and super-sweet. Coached his kids’ soccer teams …”
“Sounds good. And?”
“And he’s a real gentleman. He paid for our dates, even though I insisted I’ll pay. He didn’t come on real strong; I practically had to throw myself at him to get him to kiss me.”
“Ah, he likes a bit of the chase? Nice!”
“And I’m starting to get crazy about him.”
“Mia, it’s way too soon for that! But I know — it’s hard not to feel excited about someone who’s so great. How long has he been divorced?”
“He’s just separated.”
“As in ‘just’ how long ago?”
I think my mouth must have dropped far enough to smudge my cute new black cotton wedgies — that’s how shocked I was.
“Mia, what are you doing with a newly separated guy?”
“Enjoying our time together, why?” she sniffed.
“Because, because … because, it’s all wrong!”
Says probably about every dating expert out there, although you don’t want to necessarily follow everything they say. But, who needs a dating expert to tell us that getting involved with someone fresh out of a marriage — and I wouldn’t call separated “out” of anything — is a bad idea?
Separated means a lot of things to different people. When Rob and I separated, it was to spend time alone to figure out whether we were going to salvage the marriage or not — that hardly made me dating material. For all Mia knows, this guy and his not-quite-ex could be still working on their relationship, giving each other “space,” dipping their toes into the dating scene to see if they can attract someone new or all of the above. Or maybe they’re actually somewhat happily married and he’s just scouting around for a mistress. Who knows?
As Singlemommyhood notes: “Separated always means in limbo. There is unfinished business — whether it’s emotional, legal, or financial.”
Which is what I told Mia (thanks Dr. Leah).
And Mia would hear nothing of it. Now you know why dating experts and shrinks stay in business — even if we know we’re in a situation that has way too many complications, we still delve right in, hoping this time it will be different.
Maybe it will be.
To me, even a newly divorced guy is a big dating no-no; no one’s ready to be available in a new relationship when he just got out of one. And, if he says he is, it’s because he’s lonely and/or he wants sex.
Getting involved with someone like that is taking a big gamble, one you’re likely going to lose.
- Would you date a separated man or woman?
- How about a newly divorced person?
Photo © Angelika Bentin – Fotolia.com
So last week, I was feeling kind of cynical about marriage, well, at least Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries’. OK, maybe marriage in general. But, maybe we’re going about marriage all wrong; maybe we can tweak marriage so that we’re happier in them so there won’t be as much divorce. Seems easy enough.
Like a lot of people, I was floored when uber-Christian Pat Robertson (he of the Christian Broadcasting network) announced that it’s OK to divorce a spouse with Alzheimer’s because the disease is “a kind of death.”
Robertson advised a man whose wife has Alzheimer’s:
“I know it sounds cruel, but if he’s going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again, but make sure she has custodial care and somebody looking after her.”
Really? Well so much for agreeing to stay together “for better or worse.” “in sickness and in health” and “till death do us part.” Why even vow to do that if we can ignore it when it’s convenient? But, of course, we do ignore our vows in ways just as surprising as what Robertson is proposing:
We cheat because our spouse has a life-threatening illness and we can’t deal.
We cheat because we’re in a sexless marriage.
And, we cheat because we don’t even agree on what cheating is!
But, maybe we’re not allowing for what Robertson addresses; when the marital rules are changed by forces beyond what we can control. Yes, the “for better or worse” part; better or worse for whom? And does that have to be cheating?
Remember a few years ago when retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor announced that her now-deceased husband, John, who was living with Alzheimer’s, had found a new love at the nursing home where he lived? She was happy about it because he was happy; the essence of a good marriage. As we baby boomers age, a lot more of us will be facing something like that.
She was accepting of her husband’s choice — he had Alzeimer’s and therefore “didn’t know better,” and many thought how sweet and kind that was of her. So, should we be so hard on someone who does “know better” even if his partner doesn’t know?
Isn’t loving someone “for better or worse” supporting each other’s happiness? What if your spouse didn’t have the mental capacity to decide what was “for better or worse”?
We promise to care for each other “for better or worse” and “in sickness and in health” and “till death do us part,” but not many of us mean it. That doesn’t mean the vows are flawed — we are.
Maybe we need to change those vows to something that we’ll actually follow — that we’ll love and care for each other as long our partner is an equal participant in the marriage.
Does having a spouse with Alzheimer’s or dementia — versus something like cancer or multiple sclerosis any other illness in which the mind is still willing but the body is not — change the marital vows?
- Is Robertson wrong or right?
- What about O’Connor?
“This is disgusting!” Sara said as she shoved a People magazine in front of me.
“So then why do you keep reading that stupid magazine?”
“Not the magazine; I love People! I mean, the wedding.”
“You mean Kim Kardashian’s?”
“Look, it may be bordering on obscene how much they spent on it …”
“Over the top!”
“Oh, they’ll last longer than that. She has to have the baby bump first. Then they’ll divorce.”
” … but with everyone predicting marriage is dead, at least they don’t think so. They could have just lived together.”
“That’s not a marriage — it’s a photo op!”
I have no idea if Kim and new hubby Kris Humphries really love each other or not — and honestly, I don’t really care (although I would hope so if they’re going to have kids one day). They were smart to sign a prenup (and she makes a lot more than he does), although I’d imagine any breakup that involved a Kardashian would involve a lot of drama, prenup or not. And maybe Sara’s right; maybe it’s all for show (and media endorsements), like a reality TV show somehow got confused with reality. But everyone keeps talking about how marriage is dead and that no one needs it anymore, yet couples keep getting married — more than 2 million a year. The same it’s been for years.
We don’t have to marry anymore. People may still give look down upon divorce but it’s so common that it’s almost expected; so is cohabitation. But, just look at how gaga we get over something Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding, and Kim and Kris’.It’s like we still want to believe in the happily-ever-after part even though we know it rarely ends up that way.
So if half of those marriages end up in divorce (and many men complain about they hate paying spousal support), and who-knows-how-many are married but cheating, and choice moms are having babies with sperm donors (who needs a husband if you can just have a kid?), and more people are living together … you have to wonder why people still get married.
Can it be that we just love the idea of marriage more than the actual reality of it?
I wish Kim and Kris and anyone else who’s tying the knot the best. Hopefully, they’ve given a lot of thought into picking the right partner, especially if they hope to have kids one day. I’m quite done with marriage myself — one wedding was enough! — but I sure do like re-creating honeymoon nights …
- Is marriage irrelevant?
- Why did you get married?
- If you married again, would it be for the same reason or something else?
Photo © Angelika Bentin – Fotolia.com