Is Everyone Breaking Up?

I received the news of Heather (a.k.a. Dooce of Mommy blogger fame) and Jon Armstrong’s separation with a mixture of emotions. Having been through the full spectrum of wearing white and saying “I do” to seeing red and saying “get out” myself, I relate. I feel sad for their loss. I worry about their children. I don’t know them, but I’ve followed their lives online since Heather began blogging in 2002.

The press is saying that Will and Jada are definitely breaking up this time. Johnny Depp and Vanessa are rumored to have been separated for some time. J Lo and Marc. Katy and Russell. Even Kobe’s wife finally called it quits.

I don’t care that famous people are breaking up; they’re strangers to me. But I know this: the same thing happens to people in the spotlight and out. And that leads me to ask:

Is everyone breaking up?

And what about it? Is it okay? Should we accept our new identity as a culture of people who can’t stay married for more than five or ten years? Sure, I feel a sense of loss when a couple that was a unit goes back to being two people. But these days, it seems that maybe we’d all be better off celebrating the time served, and thinking of it as just another chapter in a book of a variety of adventures that is our life.

When I was married and thought I would be for the rest of my life, there was a gray dullness surrounding my thoughts, as if someone dimmed my lights from the inside. It came from a sense that my future was predictable: locked in and not likely to change.

Then, all of a sudden, I was single! It was terrifying and wonderful at the same time. Holy hell, what will become of me? I can go on a date tomorrow? With a stranger? And then have drinks with friends and wander back to my house at who cares what time, because no one will be waiting for me and asking questions about where I’ve been!? Fantastic freaking freedom! The lights flooded back on. Good or bad days, they were all mine. I was the only driver of this party bus.

After a while, my single life began to bother me, just as my married life did. Too much of any one thing is hard to handle. I know now that the key to happiness in my own life isn’t held by a man, and it’s my right and responsibility to change things up when the light begins to fade.

My parents have been married for so many years that I’m not sure anyone is keeping track anymore, but it’s somewhere over 40. And I love that for them. Congrats, Mom and Dad! You’ve done something that the majority of our country won’t ever be able to master. But while I applaud your ability to stick to it, I’m not sure that the traditional formula of marital commitment — say your vows, grin and bear it for the rest of your life — is working for the rest of us. And I think that we as a society may need to redefine what a “successful relationship” is.

My boyfriend said, “the best I can guess is that it’s a combination of recognizing the person that’s right for each of us, grabbing hold when the chance presents itself, having a good portion of luck, and constant, open communication so that both people evolve together. And I believe that the best part of rich and diverse experiences is having someone with whom to share it.”

He’s so sweet, and still very romantic in this new relationship of ours. I guess, for now, we’re not breaking up. TC mark

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