Sara, her new beau, and Sean and I had gone out to Rancho Nicasio to hear some music, eat and dance.
At one point I caught Sara watching Sean and me in a slow dance out of the corner of my eye.
“You guys are so cute together,” she whispered to me later at the table, when Sean went to the restroom. “When are you going to move in together?”
Good question, because I’m not sure we’re ever going to move in together. But certainly not now.
“I don’t know, Sara; not before The Kid’s out of the house. Plus, his kid’s at home, too, remember.”
“Oh, kids, schmids —That’s so old-fashioned. They know you two are sleeping together, right? So, what’s the difference?”
I know, I know — I’m divorced. If marriage really mattered to me …
No one goes into marriage expecting to divorce. But, marriage does matter, if you’re planning to have kids.
Marriage is under attack lately, perhaps rightly so given the insane expectations people place on it. Fewer people than ever before think it’s necessary. Let’s face it, marriage certainly isn’t for everyone. And people often get married for all the wrong reasons, and sometimes couples marry because they’ve been living together for a while and it seems like the next logical thing to do.
Often, it isn’t.
Couples who live together before marrying tend to argue more and communicate less. If they eventually marry, they divorce more often than those who don’t. Plus, they get fat, and that alone is reason to make me say, no way!
But it you’re going to have kids, it makes no sense to live together without getting married first. Shacking up is marriage lite, with all the daily annoyances and relatively predictable roles of marriage without the commitment. And if you think it’s any easier to split if things aren’t going great, well, just look at Halle Berry and Gabriel Aubry.
And once you have kids — who’ve gone through the trauma of a divorce — it’s all the more reason to tread very carefully on mixing families. Yes, it sure would be nice to go to sleep and wake up next to Sean more often, and to feel more like a family (although we sure do like our “space”). But I’m aware of the message we’d be sending our kids, and it isn’t the message I want to send.
There are like 5 million or so couples shacking up nowadays, and a lot of them are probably like Sean and me — single moms and dads. So I’m pretty sure we’re the minority. But, I’m OK with that. Plus, there’s none of the real or pseudo “step” or “half” things going on — stepmom, stepdad, half-brother, etc. Or worse — “mom’s live-in lover.”
I’ll bet that’s why we’re still so cute together after all these years.
- Is it OK to live together if you and/or your boy/girlfriend have kids?
- Do you think it’s any easier to split if you’re living together with kids than if you were married?
- Did you live with a parent’s boy/girlfriend? How’d that work out?
Photo © Gorilla – Fotolia.com
Sara and I sat happily in our own little worlds at a table at the Depot, two cups of coffee and two wide-open newspapers between us — the adult version of parallel playing — when our shared solitude was interrupted by two fortysomething women at the table next to us.
“I’m just not happy,” the blonde said.
“You haven’t been happy for a long time,” her brunette friend said.
“But, the kids. I keep thinking about the kids. I don’t want to ruin their lives.”
“I know. But, I don’t know if I’ve given it my all. How do you know when enough is enough?”
Sara and I looked at each other, trying not to appear as if we were listening, which of course we were. But the blonde’s question is one every person contemplating a break up or divorce asks him/herself — when do you know it’s over? At what point do you say this marriage or relationship cannot be saved?
I wanted to keep my marriage together, even though I was still stinging from Rob’s affair. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and I wasn’t happy, but I — like the blonde — thought of my kid; I didn’t want to hurt him. But I know the exact moment when I knew it was over — when Rob lied when he no longer had to.
A while ago the Huffington Post asked people to share when they knew their marriage was over. Some divorce stories are funny, some are sad, some seem as if they might have been hasty. But, who knows what goes on behind those white picket fences?
I remember reading something Joyce Maynard once wrote when someone asked her when do you know it’s over. She wrote:
A person who is profoundly unhappy in a marriage is also depriving his or her partner of the experience of being wholly loved and accepted, rather than endured. A person who silently cries out … “I can’t live this way” — and then does live this way, despite her cries — is also quietly teaching her children to ignore their own inner voices, and failing to convey to them what may be the most important lessons we can teach them: To be true to one’s self, and celebrate the extraordinary gift of being alive. To live one’s life to the fullest. To be the best person we can be.
OK, I agree: We must be true to ourselves. And to our partners, too. But, instead of living “this way, despite her cries,” I always wonder if we are doing all that could be done. What could she have been doing instead of crying? There are many truths — how do you know which is the right one?
- When did you know it was over?
- Do you still look back and say, yes, I did the right thing?
- Have you been true to yourself?
photo © Aaron Kohr – Fotolia.com
“So, are you and Sean getting together tonight?” Mia asked me as she, Sara and I trudged up the Matt Davis trail.
“Nah, The Kid’s with me tonight.”
“So?” Sara asked.
“So, he doesn’t sleep over when Trent’s with me. You know that.”
Sara stopped abruptly. “Still? Are you kidding me?”
“Haven’t you guys been together for, like, years?” Mia asked.
“Yeah, about three or four, I guess.”
“So why can’t he sleep over?”
“Kat, that’s crazy!” Sara insisted. “You guys are in a committed, monogamous relationship. You know Trent knows you guys are having sex! Why not be out in the open about it?”
I have no problem being open about a lot about sex with The Kid — just not about my personal sex life.
And, really, what kid even wants to think about his
or her parents having sex?
It’s just one big eww!! Most kids think they’re parents stopped having sex when the last kid was born, and they didn’t enjoy it anyway. So if I were still married, my sex life most likely even be an issue.
But when you’re a divorced parent and dating, it’s hard to hide what’s going on, beyond just the noisy sex thing. Having a man who’s not quite our dad, but more than a family friend shuffling over to the breakfast table in his jammies, bed-hair and morning woody — or that look on a guy’s face that only comes from having taken care of that — feels a little too in your face. And there’s always the chance that a kid’s going to accidentally see a boyfriend or girlfriend naked.
Of course, Trent knows what’s going on. But, I don’t feel like I have to fill in the details for him
- Is it OK for a boyfriend/girlfriend to sleep over when you have kids?
- Does it matter how long you’ve been together or how old the kids are?
- If one of your parents did that while you were young, how did you feel about it?
Photo © Angelika Bentin – Fotolia.com