The Most Unintentionally Disturbing Column About A Divorce You’ll Ever Read

You ever see one of those horror movies where things appear superficially normal, but out of the corner, you catch sight of disturbing things that let you know things just aren’t right? The shadow in the wrong place. A hint of movement, a twisted reflection in a window pane?

That’s sort of like this column about divorce in the New York Times from Wendy Paris. It began with this paragraph…

MY husband and I starting talking divorce at my friend Sara’s wedding. It was May in the Hamptons. Standing before the crashing Atlantic in her strapless gown, my friend looked vulnerable yet serene, as if she knew this man would always hold back the tide. Sara’s bridegroom read his vows, shivering a little as he promised to always listen, to make her goals his goals, to constantly improve his mind to remain interesting to her.

Wait, what? Is this marriage or the beginning of some sort of master/slave relationship between a dominatrix and her submissive whom she’s keeping in a box under her bed like the gimp from Pulp Fiction? Also, I can’t help but notice that Paris didn’t mention BOTH the husband AND wife making those vows. Just the husband. That’s rather odd, in and of itself because they have a freakishly unequal relationship or Paris is just so self-centered that she’s only thinking about what the man can do for the woman and not vice-versa.

After the ceremony, I slumped against one of the dunes along the shore. My husband sat down next to me. “You know,” I said, kicking off my sandals and staring toward the distant sun. “What are we doing? Why are we still doing this?”

He gazed toward the water. He wasn’t expecting me to suggest divorce during our romantic wedding weekend, but he wasn’t shocked, either.

Yeah, I bet he wasn’t expecting that. Geeze….

My husband is a good person: hard-working, committed to social justice. But I’ve come to a startling truth about myself: I might be happier with a less ambitious partner, someone less focused on his career and curing the ills of the world and more focused on me, actually, and the piddling details of our family life.

…I looked at him, driving responsibly, hands at 10 and 2, as always. I felt hopeful, too. I want my husband in my life, and certainly in our son’s. But I did not see why this meant we had to remain married.

Oh, well, if you “might” be happier, go ahead and end your marriage, decimate your kid’s life, and then try to make your former husband into a “friend” that you want to keep in your life. What could go wrong with that well thought-out plan?

In November, when my husband and I finally announced our decision to split, I assumed my friends would bring Champagne and chocolates. “Finally,” they would say to themselves. “They’ve been frustrated for years.”

Instead, I got pushback. “Are you sure you want to do this?” a friend asked. “Maybe you’re just unhappy in your career.”

…The negative feedback began to unnerve me. Were they right? Was I being overly optimistic, trading a subpar match for no one? Would I end up alone, snuggling up with my parti poodle, Paco?

My soon-to-be-ex turned out to be one of the few people who shared my vision of a better, more connected future – with different partners. “If we get divorced, it’s going to be awful for two years,” he said. “Better to get those two years out of the way sooner rather than later.”

This coolheaded stoicism, often squelching in marriage, felt reassuring and uplifting when contemplating divorce. He wanted us to focus on the good parts of our marriage and consider it a success that had run its term.

“No one else seems to see it that way,” I said.

“This is really between you and me,” my future ex insisted. “It’s not really their business.”

I’ve longed for that us-against-the-world unity for years. In our separation, he is finally expressing it.

What else is he going to say at that point? By then, he had surely realized that he was married to an incredibly shallow woman with zero commitment to the marriage, who had rejected him based on the type of person he is and who was perfectly willing to split the family apart because she thought she might be able to find someone who made her slightly happier out there. There’s no marriage therapy that’s going to fix that and since they sound like liberals, it’s not as if they’re going to care what a priest has to say about it. Like he said, the divorce was in the cards, so better sooner than later so they can try to get on with their lives.

Last but not least, here’s a bit of good news for you. Wendy Paris is a life coach with a book of relationship advice. So, if you have anyone whose relationship or life you want to wreck, you now know exactly where to send him.

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