Questions For The Loveless Marriages

You, sitting on the opposite ends of your cold, cavernous house, letting the space between you become so much more than just the beige walls and Pier 1 furniture that fill it. You, the ones who make visitors uncomfortable with the palpable anger and dissatisfaction that simmers and lingers in everything you do. You, sitting across a table in a restaurant staring coldly out the widow or towards the kitchen, anywhere but in the eyes of the other. You, who allow your disappointment to become a grave complacency, watching two separate televisions on low volume until you fall asleep next to your overfull glasses of wine, night after night after night.

Who are you?

I know who you are technically–you are the members of the PTA, the coaches, the suit-wearing number crunchers, the lovers of all things monogrammed. You are the perfect slice of suburban involvement, but equally so of middle-class ennui, the walking embodiment of first world problems. I know you because I’ve seen you, I’ve had sleepovers with your daughters in your drab McMansions and ridden to play practice in the back of your SUVs. But there must have been a you before this you that exists now, there must have been a part of you somewhere that danced, that smiled, that lived in some way aside from vicariously through your children and the people on your TV.

Even those of you who’ve let it slip, who’ve vocalized it after a few too many drinks, who’ve said to me that life is disappointing and marriage is a soul-sucking trap, you must have been in love once. That, or the photos of your youth where you are smiling, kissing, and hopelessly optimistic were extremely well-choreographed. There had to have been a moment where you turned some invisible corner, where your life went from fun and open to a trap from which you know the only escape is death. You can’t always have looked at your spouse with the unambiguous disdain that you do now, could you?

But when was it? When did you think that you made such a grave mistake? When did you know? And when did you decide that, regardless of how much of a symphony of small disappointments your life has become, you were going to stick to it for the long haul?

What makes you stay? Is it for the kids, even for the grown ones? Is there a desire not to disappoint those you have created, a fear that the implication would be that their very birth was further evidence of the mistake you have made? But I know your children, even the ones who knew at 8 years old that Mommy and Daddy slept in different beds and yelled at each other a lot. I know, too, the children who can’t recall a fight, but who can’t recall a laugh. No, they’ve been witness to the kind of silence that screams at you from across every air-conditioned room. And I can assure you, they’ve told me they know. They know you hate each other, that you hate each other in the way that cannot be fixed.

What does make you happy? Escaping each other, if even temporarily? Drinking? Watching TV shows the other person hates? Touching yourself in darkened rooms with an empty browser tab at the ready to switch over to, should someone walk in?

Do you think it was it just monogamy, or marriage itself, that wasn’t made for you? What would you do with your life if you could go back and do it again? Would you still have had children, were they more than just the symptoms of the illness that you can occasionally make them feel like?

And though I may not want to hear the answer, do you still believe in love? TC mark

image – David Ball

Chelsea Fagan

Chelsea Fagan founded the blog The Financial Diet. She is on Twitter.

Trace the scars life has left you. It will remind you that at one point, you fought for something. You believed.

“You are the only person who gets to decide if you are happy or not—do not put your happiness into the hands of other people. Do not make it contingent on their acceptance of you or their feelings for you. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if someone dislikes you or if someone doesn’t want to be with you. All that matters is that you are happy with the person you are becoming. All that matters is that you like yourself, that you are proud of what you are putting out into the world. You are in charge of your joy, of your worth. You get to be your own validation. Please don’t ever forget that.” — Bianca Sparacino

Excerpted from The Strength In Our Scars by Bianca Sparacino.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=612928768 Samie Rose

    I’m so terrified that could happen to me. This made me all upset and stuff – so that means it was well written, at least. ;-;

  • http://litratula.com Litratula

    This is great, Chelsea.   Thank you.

  • sit on my face

    ew what?! no i hate this article, it just milks the kind of stereotype that’s portrayed in early-2000s music videos about ‘broken homes’

    • Guesty

      • sit on my face

      • sit on my face

      • Guesty

      • sit on my face

      • sit on my face

  • Mdunn23

    Ugh. I dont want to be such a hater but everything you write is so boring. So trite. So cliche. There is a glimmer of talent there under all the lazy editing and cheap assumptions about things you know nothing about. Either try harder or stop all together.

    • sit on my face

      OMG SO TRUE

  • sit on my face

    “You are the perfect slice of suburban involvement, but equally so of middle-class ennui, the walking embodiment of first world problems.”
    Seriously? A ‘relevant’ meme metaphor? God help this girl.

  • Yes

    these are my parents. this was dead on. ugh

    • curd

      but they weren’t chelsea fagan’s vivaciously in-love parents who raised her w/ such an awesome urban life filled with family singalongs and incredible vacations and intellectually stimulating dinner conversations. thank god they weren’t chelsea fagan’s parents. or else chelsea fagan wouldn’t have had the amazing impetus and opportunities to live as a writer in PARIS. but luckily  she did, and now we get to read her original, poignant writing several times weekly! THANKS, MR. AND MRS. FAGAN 

      • Devin

        haterrrrr

      • Yes

        damn dude calm the fuck down

      • http://fastfoodies.org Briana

        this is the first time ever on thought catalog that i have LOLd

  • No

    agreed above — this is trite. if you’re going to be a writer, talk about what you know, not tv-sitcom thin stereotypes of people you don’t. american beauty this is not.

  • Doodlep

    stfu dumb privileged bitch. stick to that which you know (which is…?)

    • Guest

      lol, I don’t like this article much either, but really?

    • http://somuchtocome.blogspot.com Aja

      Yeah even though Chelsea Fagan doesn’t always appeal to me I’m more horrified by anonymous commenters calling women “dumb bitches”  Let’s keep it constructive and non hateful, yes?  

  • Guesty

    they were probably less in love than they were really into the idea of marriage and a married life (like you) and being homeowners and shit (I don’t know if you’re into that)

  • kate

    y’all are mean 

  • Stefan

    the only thing worse than the TC writers are the TC commenters.

    • Guesty

      that’s what makes this website so fun, it’s all terrible

  • Sarah

    Don’t worry about the bitterness in the comments. They’re pissed you just described their parents, I’m sure.

    • Guesty

      Haha, no.  

  • Guest

    I grew up in a home with a loveless marriage and this is about 80-90% accruate… and definitely hit close to home! I always wondered these things about my mom and why she stayed..

  • blah

    Well all I have to say is to hell with the hate comments. I don’t care what they think about your other writing but you just wrote about my own parents. Legit. 

  • Anonymous

    ta.gg/55j

  • http://www.twitter.com/mexifrida Frida

    I just hope most of us steer clear of this. Good article.

  • Chels

    “Do you think it was it just monogamy, or marriage itself, that wasn’t made for you? “-Woops. 

    Otherwise, a well-written and thoroughly depressing article. 

  • Eunice

    This is exactly what I find terrifying about marriage: how do you know the person you swear your life to will end somehow end up as a complete stranger or not?

  • Eunice

    This is exactly what I find terrifying about marriage: how do you know the person you swear your life to will end somehow end up as a complete stranger or not?

  • Eunice

    This is exactly what I find terrifying about marriage: how do you know the person you swear your life to will end somehow end up as a complete stranger or not?

  • spinflux

    One of the parents had an affair, or maybe just cheated a few times. The other one knows about it and still, for any number of reasons, they’re trying to stay together.  

    I think that’s pretty much it.

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