Ten Years

Ten years is a long time to be married to someone.  –Gwyneth Paltrow

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Dear Gwyneth,

I’ve been married ten years in November and it has gone by in a silly blur. When we got married, my nephew Wyatt was a tiny bump under his mom’s bridesmaid dress. He’s going to be nine in June—nine!  Behind him came seven more grandkids in seven years and all of them are now walking and talking.

I don’t feel like I have aged a day, even though there’s a whole lot of gray hair and twenty extra pounds that give a lie to that story. Shea is thinner than he was on our wedding day, but the gray ghost has caught him by the chin and we’re going to make a lot of money in retirement hiring ourselves out as Santa and Mrs. Claus for parties.

We still fight over the same stupid things we fought over when we were dating. And we laugh at the same stupid jokes. Sometimes we look around at our three kids, two dogs and home that we’ve lived in for almost all of those ten years and say to each other “When did we become grown-ups?”

Before, I prayed for and waited almost patiently for this life. The last ten years have not always been joyful and we have faced some dark valleys, just like everyone else. But even when those folded up socks in the laundry make me want to scream and throw Shea over the mountain, I am grateful that he has given me this life.

So I don’t think ten years is a long time to be married. Not when we’re standing in the shadow of our parents, who have been married 30 and 46 years respectively. Not when I witnessed both my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary celebrations. Not when some of my closest friends, who are our age, have been married 24 and 19 years. Compared to them, we’re still rookies!

And Gwyneth, this idea of “conscious uncoupling” is dangerous. If it was a way to divorce without anger and resentment and with the children’s emotional and psychological health intact, I could get behind it-ish. We don’t speak divorce in this house, but there are legitimate reasons for it to happen.

But that’s not what you’re saying. You’re saying you got tired, distant, bored. That you’ve had enough and there isn’t any more you can learn from each other. That it just isn’t working.

You’re not saying much else, so we don’t know the nuts and bolts. And normally I would say that it’s not our business, except that the conscious uncoupling made it our business.

You want reform the definition of divorce and hide behind the “science” that humans are living longer and are not psychologically or emotionally equipped to be married for decades. That we should stay in our marriages as long as they have something to teach us, and then, like graduating from college, move on to the next experience with no guilt, shame or sense of failure.

Without even a nod to the mountains of research that tell us what divorce does to kids.

Look, if you aren’t willing to work on it, if your anger is too big and your ability to forgive too small, that’s fine. We’re human and we understand those emotions. We’ve all felt a like a five year old at one time or another.

But own it. Say that you have failed, let down your families and your children and yourselves. Be humble. Don’t whitewash it, like it isn’t a trauma.

And keep this conscious uncoupling stuff to yourself. You are entitled to your delusions. But don’t call my marriage and the marriages around me “exceptions” to your delusion, because we aren’t. Most marriages that make it ten years have more resilience in the long run. Not yours, I get it, but who knows what could have happened if you hadn’t put a limit on it before you even started.

Don’t drag the rest of us into it, even though misery loves company. We aren’t faking it, or denying ourselves personal growth by staying with our partners. We’re still learning and growing and our endoskeletons are just fine, thank you very much.

Jen

PS: You’re on a roll, with your conscious uncoupling and your comments about regular working moms, and not in a good way. I have found that when the world seems to be against you, that’s more about you than the world. Might be time for a rethink. Just sayin’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “Ten Years

  1. I loved the whole darn post! If I were you, I would have added a sassy “boo-yah!” at the end though. I think my ninth graders are rubbing off on me though….

    In all seriousness though, Gwyneth’s headlines have been bothering me as well. While marriage can be difficult, it’s worth it…. As Gorge and I celebrate 12 years as a couple tomorrow, we’re cognizant of the pain, but also the joy we’ve brought together.

    Miss you friend 🙂

  2. Is it too uncharitable to ask if she will be tired of being a parent after ten years?

    From my own experience, life with my partner just keeps getting better after ten years. Yes, of course, there is stuff to work through, not the least of which is myself as a partner, but that’s kinda the point isn’t it? We just got married in the fall after 11(9) years together and one of the things the minister said that struck a note with everyone is that you aren’t just marrying the person beside you but all the future versions of them.

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