I have a 4% chance of getting divorced in the next 5 years.
I found out today that two friends recently broke up. The news hit me kind of hard, as these were two friends I really thought were going to be together forever. They made it through so much, and they just seemed made for each other. I know “together forever” sounds kind of naïve, and if anyone is the first to question the viability of a match, it's me. Still, I wanted to believe it for these two. I have no idea why they broke up; I found out through Facebook when one of said friends changed her status from “in a relationship” to “single.” But the whys and wherefore's are inconsequential for the purposes of this essay. When I saw the news, it hit me in my gut. If these two are breaking up, what the hell chance do the rest of us have?
So I calculated my chance for divorce at http://www.divorce360.com/content/divorcecalculator.aspx. Being unmarried, I entered information as if I were just married today. I sure hope the fact that I did this doesn't freak out my boyfriend. It's research. And it looks like the odds of my fictitious marriage making it for the long haul are pretty good. That's a relief, too, because I've always sworn I'd only do it the once.
And, no, my fictitious marriage was not coerced by a fake pregnancy. I'm not that kind of girl.
I will never forget my high school psychology teacher getting on his soap box and informing the class that the reason so many people get divorced is because they get married for all the wrong reasons. I believe the way he put it was that people date for 6 months, figure that they're in love, and get married. These people, he told us, are idiots. And I agreed. I thought people who dated in high school were idiots, and I went to high school in a small town where most of my classmates planned on marrying each other. According to the divorce calculator, if I had dated someone in high school and married the guy, my chances of divorce in the next five years would be 25%.
Thank God I waited. Um, er...am still waiting. Or am in a fictitious marriage—which, by the way, is not the same as a sham of a marriage.
This breakup got me thinking about the whole “together forever” proposition. I've always sworn marriage is something I will only do once. I believe that I should take my time in making this decision. I believe that marriage has to be about more than being “in love”--it has to be about wanting to create a family. Not necessarily a family in the sense of father, mother and kids, but a family in the sense that these people choose to live together and stand by each other no matter what. To that end, if I get married, that's what I'm looking for and working towards. Of course, I also once swore that I would never live with a lover until said lover and I were married, and it would appear I've changed my mind. At the tender age of 30, I'm planning on moving in with my boyfriend.
I was rather hurt when I told my friends a few months ago that my boyfriend had asked me if I wanted to live together. Me, the cynic, the girl who has been known to say things like, “This is why fuck buddies are better than boyfriends!”, is finally ready to take a chance on something as insane as living together. I thought for sure my friends would all be thrilled. No such luck. I was met with a chorus of, “Don't do it!” from the mouth of virtually everyone I knew. Of course, most of these people's experience with living together consists of moving in with their significant other a mere month after the beginning of the relationship because one or the other's lease was up. I don't want to sound like an asshole, but that's something I've never done and would never do.
You know, unless I was 83 and my possibility of death calculator said 98%. At that point, what the hell?
What changed my mind? I'm willing to move in with this man because we just seem to work. I'll spare you the sappy details. There's no internet calculator for the odds of our “making it.” For a girl like myself (always willing to enter into a completely doomed union because at least I know what's going to happen, never a bride), I suppose that should be unsettling. So imagine my dismay when another couple I consider to “just work” hit the skids. Am I on a fool's errand?
And what does all this living together talk have to do with marriage? I'm sure my boyfriend would really like it if I answered that question right about now. In all honesty, I think it's simply because my generation has so successfully blurred the line between the two. So many people opt out of marriage and simply live together as if married that it's hard to tell the difference. Also, many members of my generation and generations hence say stupid shit like, "You gotta live together first so you can find out if you and the other person are compatible. You don't wanna marry the guy and then find out he doesn't put the toilet seat down or something, do you?" The whole point of marriage is to make a promise to a person and then stick with it so you can grow spiritually and emotionally, making the effort to work through that kind of petty stuff. If you're living with someone to find out whether or not he or she is a perfect specimen for marriage, you're being silly. In my mind, living together and marriage are different, but they're both to be taken extremely seriously. If I'm willing to move in with somebody, I need to be willing to try to remember every day what loving somebody really means. It means I need to be willing to try to see beyond myself, petty annoyances and PMS to remember why I committed to this thing in the first place. Hopefully part of the reason was that I wanted to try to make that person's life better than it would've been in my absence. If I'm only in it for the sharing of bills and the regular sex or until the gas runs out on the butterflies in my stomach, perhaps it's time I rethink the proposition.
But even with all my calculating of odds and hedging bets, there's always an element of chance. The element of chance doesn't negate the need for me to consciously work toward being a responsible partner in my relationship. It's not an excuse to run willy-nilly into a situation before thinking about the possible outcomes and weighing the options. Still, the element of chance means that even with all my big thinking, I may end up where I've always sworn I'd never be: sleeping on the couch in the same apartment with the person who just dumped me/got dumped by me. I know that it would be a huge “growth opportunity,” but why even set myself up for the growing in the first place?
Because I may just end up with plenty of opportunities to grow closer to this person who I think is awesome and past myself, petty annoyances and PMS by staying in this relationship. Oh, yeah. And my vanity. We all have our things we need to work on.
Besides, I may know a couple who seemed to have it all and broke up anyway, but I also know couples who've been married for years and still post really nauseating crap about how much they love each other every day on Facebook.
There may be no odds calculator for which couple we'll turn out to be, but I love him so much I'll take that chance. Besides, if it all falls apart, I still have my imaginary husband.