I don't have any vested interest in Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin's separation, but it saddens me. I let my mind wander to their sadness. I wonder what happened. What ever causes people to separate from their spouse? Same thing when Mayim Bialik and her husband divorced, and when Robin Thicke's wife dumped him. It's shameful I'm even following these celeb relationships, but I'm a sap. I love when a love story works out.
Rich and I have been married for six and a half years now, and that means we're coming up on the fabled seven-year itch. In total, we've been together for 13 years, but we've only been grownups for a few of those. We have seen a few marriages around us end, and it's jarring. Especially so when those couples had wed around the same time as us. It gives me pause to shudder and wonder, "what if?" What if this was all over, turned upside down and done? What if it was out of my hands? What if we just decided to peace out and start over? I can't imagine any scenario like that, and have had nightmares of us separating, ones that leave me with feelings of anxiety and being sick to my stomach for days afterwards.
I am a child of divorce and can testify it is no picnic. It is not the clean separating of assets the statistics may lead us to believe. Perhaps it is true that nearly half of all marriages end in divorce, but the number doesn't come close to telling the stories of division, sadness, confusion, hurt. It is difficult to move forward and be married when there are so few examples of lifelong commitment and love for us to model ourselves after. I once had a difficult time believing it was even possible anymore for two people to meet, fall in love and stay committed for a lifetime. Today, I am learning to do this our own way: without many role models or guides.
We come up with answers as we go along and figure out what works for us. We honour our commitments and our vows the way we know how. We don't expect to be happy the whole way through. What kind of life would that be? The most interesting, strong and compassionate people I know have all experienced great loss and sadness. We need the lows to appreciate the highs, right? In our marriage, we have known great loss and sadness, and have made it through great difficulties. We don't expect that to be it.
We are better together. Simple as that. I can cling to that when things are difficult, and I can smile about it when I feel its truth deep down in my bones. It may not work out for everyone I know, though I hope it does. I know I will see more people in my life end marriages for a whole slew of reasons I may never understand. I will always be jarred by it, I predict, always taking stock of where we are and how we can avoid a similar fate.
It is hard work. I look at myself on my wedding day and see someone who has no idea what's coming. She hasn't a clue the hard work to which she has just committed. That's not the point, though. I see someone happy to be bound to her love forevermore, and that's something I still recognize in my reflection today.