Tom Wojcik: If it’s until ‘death do us part,’ then someone get me my murdering stick
December 6, 2011
As it is said in an ancient Chinese proverb, “a true married couple can tell each other a thousand things without speaking.”
Unfortunately, most of the things are said in a bitchy, passive-aggressive tone about how you needed to pick our son up from football practice an hour ago and how your dreams of being in a band with your idiot friends are stupid.
The rate of divorce in America has skyrocketed to an astonishing 50 percent. Fifty. Percent. That means, statistically, that if you flip a coin so that ‘heads’ means you will stay married for the rest of your life, and ‘tails’ means you will be divorced from your spouse at some point, you’d still be better off just marrying the quarter. For whatever the reason, whether it’s the culture, the economy, or simply a natural sign of the coming of the end of days, “staying together for the kids” is no longer good enough for the American marriage.
I actually don’t mind divorce. Any legal institution that would lower the standard of happiness to accommodate my misery is hunky-dory with me, but I can also understand its pragmatism. If you are in a marriage that has been falling apart after 10 years of bickering and fighting with no resolution in sight, you should have every legal right to separate yourself from a person or situation that makes you miserable. You’re an adult, and therefore should be able to rightly determine people who you want to be with for the rest of your life from people who you fantasize about throwing out of an airplane with a parachute made out of living bees. I sympathize with that maybe more than anyone.
However, there is hope for the hopeless romantic of the modern age. My parents have been married happily, and I do mean happily, for two and a half decades. They laugh together, they cry together, they hold hands, walk, talk and live together as lovers and equals. They are a living testament to the power of true love, that the term ‘soulmate’ is not some idealized pinnacle of happiness, but an actuality where loneliness is nothing more than our own sense of disillusionment, and that somewhere in the world is a soul that completes our own when joined in the sanctity of marriage.
Their love is touching, a constant in an uncertain world, and from what I can tell, it’s absolutely exhausting.
How could it not be, given what they go through on a regular basis? The bills, the cleaning, the backbreaking jobs, and above all, their son who uses their marriage as an comic anecdote in his mediocre column. Even on Valentine’s Day, or an anniversary, they are treated to a crass, commercialized experience. The disgusting chocolates. The cheesy dinners. The Hallmark cards. Dear God, the Hallmark cards. I really think that if they weren’t so damn happy all the time, they’d be absolutely miserable.
Yet, for whatever the reason, they endure the madness of matrimony. How they’ve done it so well for so long is beyond me. I have, in the past, asked my father how he deals with the stress of marriage. All he says is this:
“The hard part about marriage is making decisions together. The easy part is having someone to make decisions with.”
As usual, my father is right. Marriage is hard. It requires more sacrifice and more perseverance from an individual than perhaps any other bond any one of us may ever face. Some couples, like my parents, thrive on it. Some are not so lucky. Regardless, divorce is a legal institution that should be neither celebrated nor demonized, and certainly should not be taken lightly. It is an unfortunate necessity that, when handled with maturity, can alleviate a heavy burden on a family. But if there is one thing that I have learned from my parents, it’s that if you do find that one person you can give your heart to, you’ll find nothing but happiness forever.
Then again, maybe I’m just a hopeless romantic.