I am divorced. Apparently, that is contagious. I am sorry. If you are married, or close to married, please google it and read up on the factors regarding communicability of this terrible condition before you read this blog. Get vaccinated. Let your relationship grow some antibodies.
On some level, I think it is a consequence of good and healthy streams of communication that divorce spreads among clusters of friends. I don’t think it is good that it spreads, but that it spreads because after the impact of a divorce, it is hard to communicate clearly what has actually happened, and when you do, others may see an option that they never thought they had or that they thought they never would have.
But, I now know firsthand, that it spreads for other reasons. Apparently some feel I am no longer allowed to say that “everything can be fixed.” This makes me feel terrible because I genuinely believe that, though I now deliver that sentence tempered with reality. “Everything can be fixed at a price. You may not be willing to pay the price, and in a relationship, the other person may not be willing to pay the price, but for the right price, everything can be fixed.”
I don’t hate my ex-wife and I know that for the right price our relationship could have been fixed. I won’t discuss the details here, but in simple abstract terms, there was a large price I could have paid a million times, but that always seemed too high. At the end there, I think she was finally willing to pay her own price, but it was too late; I had paid too many small prices and was not willing to invest any more in that relationship. There was anger and pain in the death throes of a 13 year relationship and neither of us escaped without scars and the embarrassment of hurting each other, but now, it’s not so bad.
So to my friends who are thinking of marriage, I beg you to get vaccinated. Know that you are consciously committing to building a house of cards. It is a beautiful and wonderful thing to have someone you can lean on that holds you up, just by leaning on you. Know that it is beautiful and fragile, and the gentlest breeze or forgetting about it can just make it collapse. Commit to it. It will be hard. With constant hard work, no investment will pay out better. This is not poker. Bluffing gets you nowhere. This is not blackjack. Do not rely on luck. This is not about playing the hand you are dealt. This is about building a house of cards. Faith is the main ingredient.
And to my friends that are married and in the thin of it, that have seen the better, worse and worst of it, know that a marriage does not end when one person gives up. Marriage ends when you both give up at the same time. There will be times when one or the other thinks it’s over and is ready to fall. There will be times when you feel like you have fallen, like you have failed. There will be times when you think you have let the other fall. To you I have this advice to offer: Go punch holes in the wall. Go punch many holes in the wall and look inside. Your walls are full of dust and look pretty dingy inside. The insides of the walls were never painted. The sheet rock looks like cardboard on the inside of the wall. With all those holes, your house may “look ugly” right now, but it still stands.
You are building a house and making a home. It has ugly studs and rafters holding it up. There will be holes that need to be patched. There will be holes that never get patched. There will be extra light switches that do nothing. There will be a random faceplate on a wall covering a hole and making it infinitely more obvious than ever before. None of these are reasons to condemn a house. It can be fixed. Sometimes the patchwork is invisible and melts away. Sometimes it leaves a scar that shines through layers of paint, even after decades.
Regardless, I am just spewing metaphors and advice now. Let me put my real point in clear English. As I wait for my first wedding invite in years and hear married friends and friends in relatively long stable relationships have problems, please do not let my divorce infect you. I am a romantic who had to walk out on the relationship that I thought would last the rest of my life and that sucks. If you ever follow my example I will hate you for following me, but will help you all I can. If there is even a shred of hope I urge you to fix it. Patch the holes. I tried for a very long time and please, if anything about me inspires you, let that be what it is.